Church membership. A debated topic nowadays. Have it or not? Covenant commitment or not? Membership classes or not? To be upfront, this is not a suggestion slamming church membership, nor is it a suggestion supporting church membership. I am actually for the beauty of making a commitment to one another like family and getting together to talk about what it means to be church family together. So what is this suggestion about?
This post is simply a suggestion that making church members is not the purpose of the church.
Hear me out.
Many a teacher has said we can make church members but not make disciples. However, if we make disciples, it will automatically result in people being the church. As Neil Cole has taught and written on numerous occasions, we have raised the bar of church membership too high and lowered the bar on being a disciple of Jesus. I agree.
We want to tell people how to be a committed church member, but are we equipping people to be devoted disciples who make disciples?
It is not easy to hear, but one of the issues, in my estimation, is how church leaders have emphasized church membership to families rather than equipping families to make disciples of and with their children. As a result, parents typically take their children “to church” rather than to Jesus. Commitment to church programs gets emphasized more than commitment to Jesus and His mission.
“Make church members” is not what Jesus said. “Make disciples” is what Jesus said.
I fear that the “churched” may love what we have considered to be “church” more than we love Jesus.
Being a part of a local community of believers in Christ who live as a family on His mission is crucial in the life of a disciple of Jesus. IE, being a member of a local church family is important. But that will come as necessary when we are following Jesus on mission with Him, making disciples. We will need each other when we make disciples. However, when church membership comes first, then what the church does for me tends to supersede how we were intended to be the church together.
Think about it. How can we emphasize “make disciples” before we encourage church membership? And how will we equip for making disciples in daily relationships more than being committed church members on weekends?
Lord Jesus, reFUNCTION us to be Your disciples who make disciples as we live as Your church together, rather than “going to church” together with “making disciples” as an option for the super-church-goer. Please give us wisdom to equip for it as well as to be family on mission with You together.