If we are honest, we have to admit that we live in a day of low commitment. People want to keep their options open. We see this in the way that people fail to commit until the last minute. Even in church many of the sign-ups occur during the last week. People want to look before they leap, in most decisions of life.
In many cases that hesitation can be a result of wondering what’s best for me. It’s not mean spirited or with malice. Rather their evaluation of the church is predicated on the same way they evaluate other businesses and groups they frequent or participate in.
“Do I feel like I belong in this church?”
“Is there a good spiritual growth program?”
“Do I like the music?”
“Is there a good kids program?”
“Is the preaching doctrinally sound?”
The questions go on, but in virtually every way you look at them, these questions are suggesting I want something from the church. And too often, the answers to these questions will lead to attending the church, but without the commitment. As Josh Harris writes in his book, Stop Dating The Church, “These days, experts describe America as a nation of ‘Believers’ but not ‘Belongers’.” For Northstar to help the whole world find and follow Jesus, we need committed people. Yes, we have many people that are committed. We need more if we are to accomplish what I believe God has in store for us. It is that simple.
There are many ways to demonstrate commitment to the church. Tithing, serving, faithfully attending are just a few. But in this article, I want to talk about commitment in the form of membership.
“Marty, do I really need to bother with church membership? Is it that big of a deal?” I have been asked those questions any number of times. Sometimes it is said with genuine curiosity as people are curious what membership entails or why I view it as important. Other people are skeptical thinking that by becoming a member they will be automatically signed up to tithe by direct deposit and to have their Sundays locked up forever. Still others perceive church membership as having too many hoops you have to go through before you become a member. I understand why people can feel this way, but like so many opinions about Christianity, the ones I just mentioned are more speculation than truth.
The reality is, church membership matters. There are many good reasons why followers of Jesus should join a church. In no particular order they are:
In joining a church you make visible your commitment to Christ and His people. Church membership keeps us accountable to each other. When we join a church we are offering ourselves to one another to be encouraged, counseled, corrected, and served. We are placing ourselves under leaders and submitting to their authority. Hebrews 13:17: “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.”
There are many more benefits to joining church. When we become members we are saying, “I am here to stay. I want to help you grow in godliness and to engage fully in the mission of helping the whole world find and follow Jesus.”
Mark Dever, in his book Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, writes: “Church membership is our opportunity to grasp hold of each other in responsibility and love. By identifying ourselves with a particular church, we let the pastors and other members of that local church know that we intend to be committed in attendance, giving, prayer, and service. We allow fellow believers to have great expectations of us in these areas, and we make it known that we are the responsibility of this local church. We assure the church of our commitment to Christ in serving with them, and we call for their commitment to serve and encourage as well.”
If you are one of the people concerned that there are too many hoops to go through, we have created a class that will answer your questions and help you understand everything that we believe as well as what it means to be a member.
We do have one hoop. To become a member of Northstar Church, we ask everyone to simply attend Class 101: Membership. This class is offered every other month. In this 1.5 hour class, members of the Northstar staff share in detail our beliefs, our vision, our story, our purpose and our strategy.
So I encourage you to stop thinking about it and make the commitment. Join our church. Go to northstar.cc to see when the next membership class is at the campus that you attend.