I believe very strongly in decision paralysis. People cling to the idea that the more options you have the more freedom you have. There’s just one issue: many people become less decisive with more options. Pretend you had never eaten cereal a day in your life and I take you to the grocery store. Which one do you choose? (If your answer is anything but Lucky Charms or Cinnamon Toast Crunch, you are wrong). Churches fall prey to this. They offer fourteen baker’s dozens of programming and simply ask you to “get involved” in some of them. And then, before you know it, you are a community group leader, a greeter, on a steering committee for the worship ministry, and a table host at the new member’s class. Then the prospective member asks this (horrifying) question:
How do you see me involved in this church body?
It’s a threat level midnight kind of question. . .
Assuming that people truly own the mission of the church when they join it, then they are likely involved in something (hopefully not too many somethings). Church membership, then, requires the leadership of that church to focus in on what is truly important for your congregation to be walking with Jesus. Think through the following questions.
- What does a fully-functioning disciple of Jesus look like? (What habits exist, what character, what ministry, etc.)
- How does our church help people achieve that look?
- Given that, what are the bare minimum expectations that we would ask members to be involved in to help get them there?
- When would we say someone is over-committed?
It is true that churches can think of these questions without thinking about membership, but the issues of shepherding and ownership would still apply. This allows you to focus clearly on how people would ideally be involved so that you aren’t duped at the next membership class when someone asks how they can be.
These aren’t life-altering questions, but questions any leadership of any church should ask. Membership carries with it a commitment to a church, which is a commitment to Jesus and His people (namely, those people who have also committed to that local congregation). You want your church to be free to pursue the mission of God together without being choked by “church” responsibilities. Wisely and prayerfully thinking through what truly needs to be done can help your members in significant ways.
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