5 Prayer Needs: Need #5
The final prayer need we have listed is simply called “Church Membership.” I'd like you notice some things about this:
This doesn't say “Calvary Baptist Church Membership.” We're praying here that people will become members of a church, not mandating it be this one.
This doesn't say “Church Attendance.” This isn't about just showing up. Rare is the organization that allows people to consider themselves “members” without being active participants. We churches have almost cornered the market on allowing people to join and then expecting nothing out of them. We're praying for people to be active participants and supporters of the church they are members of. Just as you can't join a ball team or the Rotary Club without committing your time and finances, we are praying that people will grasp that within joining a church.
This also places a burden on churches to educate and train church members and potential members. I had a good conversation with a church member Wednesday about things in the 'church covenant' in which we discussed that we don't ensure people know what's in it and commit to it before they join. (I'm actually not sure it's mandated in our church constitution. Something to consider.)
This is also about realizing church membership is about more than having a place to have your wedding or a church to list in your obituary. Church membership should be about where you are right now. If you are a member of a church that you cannot attend because you don't live there, you're a member of the wrong church. You should be a member of a local church. Get up on Sunday, find a church that preaches the Word of God, and join it. And stay put, serving the Lord your God there. If you want to come back to your hometown to get married, it can be worked out. I'm all for being cautious about handing out building keys or letting just anyone pop in to use a church facility, but let's not let facility policies be a stumbling block for people's obedience. Same with providing care for people in crisis. If someone has lost a loved one and God burdens your heart to fix a meal (or organize one), should you check the church roll? No. Just do it, and if there's nothing that cannot be adjusted happening, use the church fellowship hall. Let your church membership be where you are, where you are going to church. Non-resident church membership is one of our unbiblical habits in Baptist life. If you aren't here, you should be a member where you are. We're praying people will take that seriously.
This is also about, when you read Hebrews 10:25, what church meetings are for: encouragement and growth. We're here to learn and encourage. Are you coming to encourage? Yes, there are times when we come to church because we have needs. I'm fully aware of that. That's why preachers take vacations and go to church somewhere, because we have needs as well. What do we need? We all need encouragement, to be emboldened to the task God has given us! We all need better equipping.
Church Membership is about more than just a name on a roll sheet. Let's pray for a better understanding of that fact.