Why become a member of a local church?

I’m working on a new project at Grace (oh, secrecy, how fun), and spent a couple hours yesterday reading through membership applications from the past five years or so to find some people who might be good candidates to participate.  It was amazing to read the diversity of life experiences people had had before coming to Grace, and why they had chosen to stick.  Some of the people I knew well, and others less so.

Reading these applications gave me an increased understanding and affection for members of our church.  It also made me think of Hebrews 13:17, which says that the leaders of the church  “are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account.”  It’s a sobering verse, a reminder that success or failure at my job is based on much more than attendance or offerings.

What’s even more frightening (to me, at least) is that there a lot of people who would consider themselves a part of our church, and consider me to be one of their pastors, whom I have never met.  Am I accountable for people who come once a month?  Christmas and Easter?  It would help me a great deal if there was some clarity on how was (and was not) part of our church.  I don’t mean who is or is not a Christian, just who are the people that we are accountable to God for here at Grace Seal Beach.

Maybe “member” is a dumb name for that.  Okay.  We can call them “partners,” “owners,” “stakeholders,” “brothers and sisters,” or any other name.  (BTW, all those come from actual churches).  The important thing is the idea: I am a part of this church.  I am committed to them, they are committed to me, and we are going to pursue God together.  I am not here simply to consume religious services, but participate together in bringing God’s kingdom to Seal Beach.

That’s why I’m a member/partner/owner/stakeholder/brother at Grace.  I hope you are, too.

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