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That, my friends, is called click bait.
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Membership. What do you think of when you hear that word? A gym? Costco? A rewards program? A political party?
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What about church membership?
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Unfortunately, a lot of us probably intuitively connect church membership with other typical forms of membership in our world. And the typical structure in those forms of membership is that you pay a certain amount of money in return for certain privileges. Pay your $50 fee, and get the privilege of parking two kilometres away from Costco, ramming your cart through the hordes of shoppers, and coming home with a lifetime supply of Shreddies, baby wipes, and vitamins when all you intended to do was buy a container of salsa.
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We really are talking a lot about grocery shopping these days, aren’t we? (See Nate’s sermon from last week for more grocery humor!)
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You can see how this could quickly become an unhealthy mentality to have when it comes to membership in a church. You can see how it could result in people saying “I pay your salary, so you better preach on ____!” Or, “I’ve been a member of this church for 30 years, so I should get what I want!” (These are not real examples from my experience at The Bridge Church, thankfully.) On this basis, you might even question if the idea of being a member of a church should be discarded altogether.
In preparation for our membership class next week (more on that below), I picked up a short book by Thom Rainer called “I Am A Church Member”. Here’s his diagnosis of one of the major issues plaguing the declining church in the global West: “I am suggesting that congregations across America are weak because many of us church members have lost the biblical understanding of what it means to be a part of the body of Christ…many churches are weak because we have members who have turned the meaning of membership upside down.”
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See, membership is biblical. It’s just that we’ve made the wrong connection. The similarity isn’t with Costco (don’t sue me, Costco). The similarity is with the members of a body. The analogy is not a paying member of some corporate program, but rather a healthy, functioning part of the body using its particular gifts to build up and benefit the whole (this is straight from Paul in 1 Corinthians 12).
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It turns out we do need to get rid of a certain idea about church membership. The solution, however, is for it to be replaced with a more biblical one.
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So I want to issue an invitation to two groups of people to join us for our membership class next week:
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For those who are not members of The Bridge, whether because you’re new or you’ve been around for a while but haven’t made this step. Join us as we delve into the history of this church, our beliefs, our values, our vision, and what it means to be a member. Coming to the class doesn’t mean you’ll become a member, but it is the first step.
For those who are already members of The Bridge, I want to invite you to join us for a refresher about what membership is about, and what you’ve committed to. Just like attending a wedding can help remind already married people what they committed to and to renew their covenant, so joining a membership class can be a great way of renewing your covenant with this particular church body.
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You’ll see this info below too, but we’re offering our membership class at two different times at our church home (it’s the same both times, you only need to come to one):
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Thursday, November 25: 7-9:30pm
Saturday, November 27: 9-11:30am
Would love to have you there!