Saturday, May 14, 2011

Why he HAS to be a Member

I used to work with a graphic designer who was semi in charge of recruiting other graphic designers to hire. One time I remember asking him what he was looking for in consideration of the open position. "Oh," he said,  "creativity, responsibility, they have to be fun, and they HAVE to be a member of AIGA."  (AIGA is a professional association for design)

I inquired further. Why do you say that? Why do they need to be a member of AIGA?

"Because a serious graphic designer is a member of AIGA. It helps them grow as a designer, it is beneficial for networking and professional growth, and it gives them some level of credibility. If they are a for real designer, they are a member."

This story always comes to mind when people ask me what I look for in a potential husband. I say, "He must be creative, responsible, fun.. Oh and he HAS to be a member of a local church."  If he is serious about his faith, one way I will know that is by his commitment to a local body of believers.

Motte Brown did a great little Article over on Marry Well on why being a member of a local church can help you on the path to marriage. Some of the things he talks about in the article are the "benefits" of this membership. They include growing in spiritual maturity, practiced commitment, spiritual compatibility, built in opportunities to serve others, and near instant credibility. I would also want to add in accountability and support. You know this person is learning to submit their lives to Christ, and that is an important quality to grow in as one prepares for marriage/is married.

Members of AIGA learn more about design ethics and how to improve their skills. They go to conferences to learn more and give input on each others design, there is mentorship, and using their talents to help the community.

 Christians need to learn more about their faith and how to implement the gospel. We need support, mentorship, and outreach. But not only do we need to join the church for these reasons, we need to join because it is the example set forth in the Bible as a reflection of the Gospel.

If the terminology is new or confuses you, here are some very helpful resources on the topic of church membership. I've included a short clip from the guys over at 9marks that talks a little bit about what it means:

6-Membership from 9Marks on Vimeo.

What do you think? Is church membership one of your qualifications for a potential spouse? If you are already married, was it a qualification? Why or why not?


Nicole.Ryan said...

What a good story!

Nate D said...

I would say no for me,I actually don't like a lot of the attributes of membership at a "church" they can be misleading. we are all members of the church if we are followers of Christ. while I don't see it as wrong to be a member of a church body,I see it as throwing out the larger picture, and to be honest membership doesn't mean a person is serious about their faith, anyone can be a member if they agree with the doctrine, they don't even have to go to a service to be a member. I think its very important to get fellowship and have leaders etc. but I don't think it matters how we go about that, as long as we are growing. When Jesus walked the earth it was follow me, or don't follow me, there was no "membership" and the pharisees were the ones lacking in understanding, even in the job industry, while it helps to know someone has a working knowledge of a job, it doesn't necessarily better qualify them, nor does it mean they are more serious about it. In fact its often the other way around, the people with the degrees and certifications usually have much less of a working knowledge than those with experience. Its dangerous to be "forced" to grow so to speak, I would rather have a spouse who is serious and strong enough if faith to seek God and grow without a membership status.

Alissa:Adventurer said...

I think there is a misunderstanding of church membership being like a YMCA membership, and that is not the case. Many churches also have hundreds of members, and most of them dont even regularly attend, which isnt how it should work either (that is meaningless and poor understanding of membership). When I talk about church membership, I am not talking about a name on a roster somewhere.
Meaningful and biblical church membership reflects how the Bible defines what a Christian life should be like. It is not to say that being a member makes you a better christian, but it allows you to carry out biblical directives in a biblical context.
1. they should be Christians (acts 2 says that when they became Christians they were added to a church) who are baptized.
2. They should be regular attenders (Hebrews 11 says that Christians should not forsake gathering together)
3. Submit to leaders (hebrews 13:17) if you do not belong somewhere, how can you submit to anyone? How can you submit to elders if you do not actually belong anywhere? How would church discipline take place? (matt 18) When we have a problem with one person should we then take it to the universal church and tell every christian in the whole world to confront the sinning brother? We need a local body.
4. For leadership to be held accountable for people in the body (1 Pet. 5:1-5; also, Acts 20:29-30)(if no one is a member anywhere, then are all pastors held specifically responsible for ALL christians?)
5. People should give (“One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches” (Gal. 6:6) So if you arent a member, where does your money go? It is biblical to give to missions/church life, but if you arent a member, are you just randomly giving without actually knowing what the needs are?
We are all members of the THE Church universal if we are Christians, yes, but the new testament consistently speaks to specific local congregations dealing with specific problems.
Church membership is a commitment to a local body of believers to bear with one another and live as Christians together, uphold discipline, communion, baptism, and other such ordinances.
If you do not believe in church membership, how do you handle texts such as 1 Corinthians 5:1-12, or 1 Timothy 5:3-16 (what is this list of widows? a universal list?). If you do not believe in church membership, then how would we choose elders or bring about any organization?
Brother, I would greatly encourage you to rethink your understanding of church membership. Do not align it with the world and negative connotations of "membership" or "discipline." Church without membership is a consumeristic dangerous mess.

Nate D said...

I will say I did misunderstand you before in many ways because you were comparing membership to a person being a member of an association for a job, which would be a lot like a ymca membership,though I'm not saying it has to be, that's what I got from it.

this is just my opinion, but I think that the word "member" is a poor word choice for most of what you are describing. Its too simple of a word. The only Christians I have ever heard use the word member,in referring to a church body, were talking about a sign up roster,and I know few church bodies who don't have one. you agree with me that we are all members of the church, so while I think its fine to sign up to commit to something, I don't see it as necessary, I think I just have a different idea of the word member than you do. I would describe a person with the attributes you put more like a "faithful Christian" as in being faithful to God and the believers who they meet with. we may have to leave the local church body we are with now and join a new one, by being faithful to God we will be on course,though there might be a lot of change, eventually we would find a new body to meet with, our membership won't change, we are still under Christ serving Him, though we will be leaving that body of local believers to find a new one.(that's how I see it)

As far as the numbers go, I agree with you completely, I think you misunderstand what I was saying before too, I think its very important to belong to a body of believers, to have leaders, hold each other accountable, to tithe, to attend regularly. I don't think it needs to be done in an official building with an official pastor(nor do I think you are saying that), I think we can meet with a body anywhere consistently as long as those needs are met scripturaly.

so wrap it up, I just don't like the word member in the way many people use it, and themselves.I have nothing wrong with your idea of what a "member" is, I'm all for it.

Alissa:Adventurer said...

Hey Nate, my apologies for the possibly confusing metaphor. Lol, I see what you are saying, especially since it could have the potential to carry out the incorrect association with what the word "member" means in a biblical context.

So we probably do agree more than we disagree here.

I also do not like the way people many times use the word "member." It is obviously a biblical word though. Like the misuse of the word "church," or "worship," we cant really just ditch the word, but fight for a better understanding I think.