We just finished up a membership class at Redemption Church, and it is always an enjoyable time to share our beliefs, values, and mission to potential members and those wanting more information about the church. Many churches from my denominational background do not do any form of membership classes. Some people say that it makes it harder to be a part of the membership, which is true, and others say that it is harder to get people to make it to each class. These may be true, but it is a necessary part of the process. For us, we see members as owners of the church and essential part of a healthy ecclesiology. We write more about that here if you want more of an apologetic of why you need membership at your church.
Here are several reasons why I believe membership classes are important for your church.
1. Reinforces the idea that membership is important.
When membership is just coming down the aisle and filling out a card, it doesn’t necessarily communicate that membership is important. It says it is a formality that you do because you have to. When you have a membership class, you are telling people that membership means something.
2. It prevents false expectations from potential members.
When you are new to a relationship, organization, or a job, you usually come with certain expectations. Some are realistic and others are not. Membership classes help to provide a way to have reasonable expectations for a ministry. The church gets to present why it does church the way it does. It can share its beliefs, values, and goals. Potential members get a chance to hear the reason why a church exists and the uniqueness of its identity.
3. Helps a church define what their values and mission is.
Sometimes, it’s hard for church leaders or pastors to really understand its vision or mission and value. Many organizations have vague ideas of why they exist. When you present those values and mission in a class setting, it forces you to work through them in a way that makes sense to potential members.
4. Helps a potential member work through their own theology.
Many times, potential members have not worked through their own theology. They haven’t asked certain questions or been challenged from one side or another. Membership classes can be a way for potential members to ask those hard questions and have a biblically reasoned view for why they believe what they believe.
5. Shows commitment by potential member.
When you are thinking of joining a church, it doesn’t require a lot to just walk an aisle, but to go through a membership class says that you are really interested in being committed to the mission of a church. Membership classes are a great way to gauge that level of commitment. These are probably the people who want to serve and get plugged into the work and ministry.
6. Provides a place for questions about the church from potential members.
Sunday mornings are often difficult places for potential members to ask questions about the church, where its headed, or what it believes. There is so much happening on a Sunday. Especially from the pastor’s perspective. You’re trying to greet new people, catch up with the happenings of people throughout the week, be ready to preach, and do some mini-counseling and prayer sessions. Membership classes help provide an environment to deal with real questions those might have about the church.
7. Provides a great opportunity for the Gospel to be presented.
Some of those who come to the membership class may not be believers. Membership classes provide an environment to share the Gospel with potential unbelievers and give them an opportunity to hear and respond to the Gospel. One of the key factors of membership is regenerate membership. This means that those who are members are true followers of Jesus.
- Think about instituting a membership class for your church even if it’s just one class.
- Review the way you do membership and look for ways to improve your enlistment process to include some of these principles.
- Talk to other churches who do membership classes and see how they do things to see what you can institute in your own church.