Monday, March 13, 2006

WHy Bother with Membership?

This SUnday's sermon title is Membership has it Privileges (and Responsibilities). I was really proud of the title, (which was largely "borrowed" from the old American Express ads) and was planning a wonderful sermon on the difference between being an adherent and a "full member".

THe problem? I am not exactly sure what the difference is. I mean other than the right to vote on anything coming before a congregational meeting (adherents can only vote on so-called "temporal" matters) and the ability to be on one of the church courts (Board, Presbytery, Conference, General Council) what privilieges do members have? ANd what responsibilities do they have that are not shared with active adherents (apart from the aforementioned church court membership)?

A sermon on the differnece between member and adherent seems a little dry. How do we excite people about making the jump from one to another? On a different side, how do we encourage our Boards (or equivalent) to be reviewing the roll and looking at what members are no longer in good standing? This looking into denominational polity is tricky--I keep coming up with more stuff that neeeds reviewing by our Board.


  1. We were left with the same question. It forced us to examine what being a member really means. Our conclusion--commitment. Members are committed to our church body--prayers, presence, gifts, and service (we are methodist; can you tell?). However, the church is committed to her members. Church care, fellowship, support, love, friendship, etc. It's the difference between dating and marriage.

  2. It's an odd phenomenon, isn't it. Our denomination has more or less switched from caring about membership stats to caring about communicant worshippers stats, because they seem to give a more accurate picture of regular church attendees.

    It makes me wonder though (as someone who grew up in the church, albeit with a lapse in my adulthood) -- what are people afraid of? What's keeping them from "making it official"?