There’s been some changes in the last year or so in our church’s membership process, so I thought a blog post might be helpful to clarify.
A picture is worth a thousand words, so basically it goes like this:
Here are some reasons we wanted to change things up from the old way:
- We’re always looking for ways to do things better, and a bit more efficiently in general.
- We wanted to eliminate the possibility that someone could be baptized at our church, but not be a member. This creates a weird “limbo” status that we don’t believe is Biblical. In the past, people have gone years in this state, and we’re still working to fix that problem. In this new scheme, you’re a member as soon as you’re baptized.
- Membership class used to be 10 weeks, followed by several months more while people waited to be interviewed. This seemed too long. We’ve shortened it to 4 weeks, with a subsequent 4 week new-members class where you can get to know the church more. (We toyed with the idea of making it even shorter, but we decided we enjoy the process of getting to know people through multiple-week interactions. But we’re open to further change in the future.)
- Having separate Baptism and Membership classes seemed to create a situation where we were teaching some of the same material twice (and certain people had to go through the same material twice). Combining baptism and membership class allows us to move people through more efficiently.
- In the past there has been confusion over whether people who have already been baptized become members after their membership interview, or if they have to wait for the Baptism service.. We wanted to clarify that people who have previously been baptized become members right after their membership interview, so they don’t have to wait until the Baptism service. Of course, those who need to be baptized must wait until they are baptized, and they will emerge from the water as members!
We’ve been in the process of transitioning to this new way (and refining as we go) in the past year or so. However, not all of this has been implemented yet … we are still working on some of the details. Here are some of the things we’re still working on that hopefully we’ll get in the process soon.
- We’d like to welcome new members in a more formal way after baptism services, and to have a welcoming email sent out and their names listed in the bulletin. Up until now, we haven’t done a great job communicating when people actually became members (this blog post is supposed to be a step towards fixing that!)
- We’d like to have new member testimonies publicly read in service. We’ve done this a few times last year, but we haven’t been consistent with it. Though its ‘optional,’ we’d like to do them more often as a way for us to get to know our new members.
- We’d like to have new members over to an elder or deacon’s house for dinner to discuss where they can get plugged in.
Church membership is simply a way to publicly declare our commitment, responsibility, and accountability to our church body. We’re grateful to be a part of a church that values church membership!