"Why Membership Matters." by Pastor Wayne Ogimachi
When our Launch Team was laying the groundwork for Lighthouse in 2000, I hoped to avoid the issue of having official church membership. I had found that many on church membership rolls no longer actively served or even attended those churches, while a number of those actively serving, giving and even leading were not members. Such situations made church membership seem hollow or superfluous.
I've since come to believe the best solution is not to do away with church membership, but to make it meaningful and to give it integrity. We need membership not only to satisfy legal requirements for incorporation, but for reasons related to DISCIPLESHIP, CHURCH HEALTH, and CHURCH UNITY.
Membership instruction and commitment are important aids to DISCIPLESHIP, challenging us to take seriously the call to live as followers of Christ by making concrete commitments in accordance with his will. At Lighthouse, the members are known as the Ministry Community, and membership in the MC reminds us the Christian life is not a spectator sport, but comes with the expectation of spiritual growth, stewardship and ministry involvement.
Leaders must ask themselves, "If everyone in our church were just like us, what kind of a church would we have?" since, as Jesus said, "Students are not above their teacher, but all who are fully trained will be like their teacher." (Luke 6:40 TNIV) Since followers tend to become like their leaders, it's vital that those in church leadership positions model adherence to biblical doctrine, active faithful service and stewardship, godly character and alignment with Lighthouse's mission, vision, values and beliefs. What chance do we have of becoming a community marked by these qualities if our leaders don't themselves practice and model them?
Membership is vital for CHURCH HEALTH as well. It's a reasonable requirement not only for Pastors, Elders, Ministry Area Directors and staff members, but for any Lighthouse Ministry Team Leader, Small Group Leader, Sunday School Teacher or SYTE Advisor.
Just as the Seahawks or the Mariners must clearly identify the rosters of their teams and know who's committed to their cause, healthy churches need to know who is part of their committed Ministry Community. Our members understand the kind of church we are called to be, pledge their cooperation with Lighthouse's leaders, and embrace our Mission, Core Values, What We Believe (Statement of Faith) and Vision. When they annually sign the Membership Covenant, they can be counted on to steward their gifts, time and resources in ways that honor God and build up the Lighthouse.
Therefore, we've designated membership in our Ministry Community as a prerequisite for all leadership positions. Not as a hoop to jump through or as unnecessary bureaucracy, but as an aid to empowering people. It lets them know the minimal expectations if they are to be entrusted with leadership influence in our church.
Insisting on membership for all Lighthouse leaders also guards our CHURCH UNITY by insuring that those in key positions of influence are aligned with who we are, what's important to us, and the kind of church God has called us to become. Our members understand and embrace the shared blueprint God has given us to build this Lighthouse to light up our world with the reality of Christ.
Membership matters not only for leaders, but for all who care about Lighthouse and want it to thrive as a community of faith extending God's kingdom. People are welcome to attend our church, worship with us, and even serve on most ministry teams without becoming members. But by becoming a member of the Ministry Community, one joins the ranks of those who promise to attend, serve, and financially support Lighthouse. They indicate their commitment to honor the Lord through Lighthouse, and strive to model the participation and godliness we hope others will grow towards.
By joining our growing Ministry Community, you take up your place in our efforts to share God's grace and truth so that people come to know, love and serve Jesus Christ! Those who would like to become members must first attend a Membership Class, then complete an Application and sign the Membership Covenant. To keep one's membership active, all members must sign the Covenant afresh at the beginning of each calendar year.