Letters to my Sheep: Church Membership

Wrote this about a year ago:

 I’ve been thinking a lot about church membership over the past month, as we had a New Members Evening in September and new members have joined the church.  This Sunday, during the Morning Worship Service, we will publicly receive these members and hear them give assent to the membership vows (which they have already done before the Session when they joined).  This is always a time of encouragement for the church and this Sunday will be no different.  Additionally, I will also be baptizing one of these new members – another reason for us to rejoice together as a congregation. 
            One of my primary thoughts regarding membership has been on the thing that all of us need to hear from time to time:  that we are valued for who we are, not what we do.  Usually, when we celebrate someone, it is because of something they have accomplished, an achievement they have earned, or how they have served us in some way.  This is good and right, but we go through periods of our lives where there isn’t much to celebrate or no one notices what we have done.  The one exception to this is our birthday.  Birthdays are the one time during a year (I hope) that you are made much of, not because of what you have done, but because of who you are.  This is one reason that birthdays continue to matter to us, even after we have outgrown the desire for fancy presents or parties.  We all need to be affirmed in who we are, not just whether we have done something (or not).
            Let me make the connection to church membership now.  Yes, there are times that we recognize those who labor for the church, particularly those who are volunteers (sunday school teachers, greeters, ushers, nursery workers, garbage crew, lightbulb changers <it’s not as easy as you might think>, musicians & singers, and on and on).  That said, there is and should be a part of becoming and being a member of Christ’s Church where we are celebrating who someone is. In particular, we are celebrating who Christ has made and remade each member to be.  That gracious work of Christ in our salvation (which is the most important requirement of church membership) can never be accomplished or achieved, only received and lived in.  Jesus said we must be born again (John 3).  So, like a birthday, we should continually be rejoicing with each over the new birth we receive by God’s Spirit.  This should be a part of membership – not what we do, but who we are in Christ.  And in that, every member is important and their very presence (even if some are not able to be physically present as much as they may like) is worth celebrating!  All, in Christ, matter:  young and old, introverted and extroverted, able-bodied and physically-hindered, spiritually mature and those young in faith.  All, in Christ, matter.



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