Today I received an invitation to join a service organization in our community. This group is well known in Spring Hill, and is very active in doing service projects that benefit our city. I know several of their members, and they are fine, upstanding citizens.
I found myself intrigued by the brochure that accompanied the invitation.
First of all, it talked a lot about the service performed by the organization, but not much about the benefits to its members. It is clear that this organization values service, and it wants men & women who are more interested in what they can give to and through the organization than they are in what they are going to get out of the organization.
It also set out some rather stringent conditions for membership: An annual membership fee; Weekly lunch paid for by each member; An additional expense for a service project; Members are expected to attend at least 60% of the organizations weekly meetings, which are scheduled to last 1 1/2 hours; Every member is expected to serve on a committee or otherwise participate in the leadership of the organization; They also are required to help with fundraising events and/or other activities and programs.
There is a section of their brochure that deals specifically with expectations for new members.
I couldn't help but compare that service organization's approach to membership to that of the church.
Many people exploring membership in a local church start with the question, "What does this church have to offer me?" or "How can this church meet my needs?" It is rare indeed for people to start from the perspective of "How can I help this church accomplish its mission?"
What if we were to impose minimum attendance or giving standards? What if we required each person applying for membership to tell us up front where they were going to serve in the church? I guarantee you, a lot of people would be offended by such an approach.
Yet most organizations (not just the one I mentioned earlier in this post) routinely set such expectations of their members. Why is the church different? Is the church of Jesus Christ not worthy of these more stringent requirements? Is the Body of Christ less deserving of such commitment on our part?
I'm not proposing such changes in our approach to membership at Life Spring, but I hope every member will pause to consider whether we are giving our best in our service to the Lord. If service organizations in the world are worthy of such dedication, is the church of Jesus Christ worth any less?