Membership vs. Discipleship (September 2014; Volume 3, Issue 9)
Although the church has many documents describing what membership means (communing and contributing at least once a year), Jesus never talks about membership in the Bible. Instead, he talks about discipleship. Although the church tends to conflate the two, or only focus on the former, the later is really what matters!
This is how Charles Lane differentiates between the two categories in his book Ask, Thank, Tell.
- A member donates to the church so others can to do ministry somewhere else, while a disciple gives of themselves and does the ministry – feeds the hungry, clothes the naked, spreads the good news.
- A member focuses on maintaining the institution of the church by getting and keeping more members just like them, while a disciple focuses on their relationship with God and showing others what the life of discipleship is about – which includes:
- Daily Prayer
- Daily Scripture Reading
- Weekly Worship
- Growth in Giving (to and beyond a tithe—10%)
- Serving Others
- Sharing the Faith story to those who have not heard
- A member strives to lead an upright life as a good citizen, while a disciple lives their life in community with others.
Sometimes we in the church, especially in leadership positions, try not to set too many expectations because we think it will scare people away. However, this does everyone a disservice. When we lose sight of Jesus’ hope for us – being disciples and making more disciples – we run the risk of people not being properly equipped and encouraged to be in a relationship with God and God’s people. This is true of frequency of worship attendance, participation in service opportunities, and level of giving.
Giving is an important part of our relationship with God. God first gives to us—entrusts us with part of creation—and so we give to others.
We will be talking about this more as part of our “stewardship campaign” this year, not in order to raise more money for LCF but in order to help fulfill every giver’s need to give. Please join us!