What is Membership Really About?

When you hear the term "church member" what do you think? Someone who considers a church their home? I mean, it makes sense right. If I am a part of a body, then I am a member, therefore being a part of a community is technically "MEMBERship" right?
I personally think the language around church membership can be confusing. How about a story to illustrate it.

As the Pastor here, It's common for me to chat with someone whose been attending for a while, who is not an official member. They'll talk about how much they love being a part of this church and all the relationships they've built. This is their church family. It's so great to see, and I would love to see them get even more involved, knowing that membership is a great way to draw closer to God and this community. I start the conversation... but, pause. Let's rewind and see it from another perspective
[speaking as an attendee] I went a long time without a church home. In fact I never really felt like I had a meaningful connection with God until I found this church. The people were so warm and inviting when I visited and they helped me get to know others. I started attending a small group and even helped out at VBS! This church has welcomed me in and I feel like this is my church home, my family. I've been telling all my friends and coworkers that this is my church.
One day, the pastor comes up to me and says, "Hey, since you have been getting involved so much, would you be interested in becoming an official member?"

Wait what? Have I not been a member all this time? I mean, I've been going here, contributing, and participating for a while. I thought this was my family? Now you're asking me to make it official? It honestly hurts a little to be asked, but I can't quite put my finger on why.
[It's me again] It's a totally understandable question isn't it? This feels like a parent coming up to their child asking if they would like to be an official part of the family. It's seems odd, but that's only because it seems like "being a member" and "belonging" are one in the same. Membership at a country club, or BJ's is about belonging, but is the same true about church?

Well, to put it simply, no.
Belonging to a country club is about whether you are allowed in the club, whether you can have access to all the perks of that exclusive relationship. It's about having something others can't have without paying for it. Belonging at a church has no such requirements. If you walk through our doors, you are family. If you are baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit you are a part of God's family. The only "barrier" to entry is your own choice.
Membership at a church is less about belonging and more about partnership. As a member of the family, you may want to have a say in where the family goes on vacation, where they live, or what we have for dinner. At church you may want to help out in a leadership role or have a say in major decisions. As a member, you are officially taking on the identity and mission of the church as your own and you are committing to it through regular attendance, giving, and participation. 
Belonging to a church is about where you call home and who you consider family, while Membership is about a commitment. being a partner in the work, decisions, and direction of the whole community. It is an important step as you draw closer to God. For some it is only for a season, and that's ok. Membership need not be a chain holding you down. But for others, it is a reminder that God calls us to each do our part and let others know that they can rely on us while we transform into a community through whom God's love flows.
If you would like to learn more about Membership and how you can be a part of what God is doing at Valley Chapel, then simply schedule a meeting with Pastor Ryan using the link below. 

Ryan Rovito

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