Issue #3: Why You Should Clean Up Your Membership Roll
When I first spoke with the leaders of my new church, they asked me: “Are you going to change things?” I told them, “I don’t plan on changing anything for the first year” and I meant it. What I didn’t know is they meant ANYTHING…like the color of the communion clothe or the where the announcements were placed in the service. I meant I wouldn’t change anything significant for a year.
The first major change I did make, however, was I cleaned up the membership roll, and you should consider doing the same. Here’s why.
5 Reasons to Clean Up the Membership Roll
- You establish who belongs to your church. When I asked the lead elder what constituted membership, he said “if you attend and give, you’re a member.” Really?! How often do you have to attend? How much must one give? Do you realize that an atheist could meet those requirements? This could not stand. Establishing who belongs to your church is basic Christianity. Only repentant, baptized believers, who are committed to your local church can join. This is a gospel issue. Once you have established who those people are, now you know who are responsible to shepherd. You are not responsible for every Christian. So, who are you responsible for (Hebrews 13:17)? Those under your membership care. Only formally committed Christians are members of the church.
- You protect yourself from outside influence. When I was a youth pastor, I once sat in a business meeting in which we were voting on whether or not use the 1 million dollars we had saved to build a new building. On that day, I saw people I had never seen before in my life. These were individuals who once attended the church but hadn’t been in years. They had been summoned to appear and vote No. That should have never happened. But…guess what? They were “members” because their names were on a roll. According to the church’s by-laws, they had the right to vote. We didn’t build. The church was a wreck. Reforming the membership roll will protect you from outside influence like this. The last thing you want is for outsiders to have a say on anything in the life of your church. Only active members should have influence.
- You have numbers to measure. When we cleaned up the membership, we had 46 active members. It wasn’t many, but it was a real number, and we could build upon it. After that we established a membership process and frequently talked about the importance of membership. As a result, that number steadily grew. It’s very helpful for a pastor when he can look at his congregation and know who is a member and who isn’t.
- You raise the bar of expectation. The church is guilty of lowering the bar low enough where Christians can step over it. We need to raise the bar of expectation. Meaningful membership is a step in the right direction. I once heard a pastor give a sermon on “the perks of church membership”. It was an attempt to build membership numbers, but it sounded like a pitch to join a country club. Members do have “perks” I suppose, but more than anything they responsibility. They need to know it’s an honor, not a right, to be a Christian and member of Jesus’ church. Raise the bar of expectation and you will raise the quality of your ministries all around.
- You will help your preaching and teaching. Once you establish membership, you can now incorporate this new reality in your preaching regularly. Christians should be members of a local church. It’s all over the NT. And for those who do belong, the NT enjoins upon the commands and expectations. As a leader, you can bring these truths to bear upon their souls in your teaching and preaching ministry.
Cleaning up the membership roll is a game changer, and these are just some of the reasons why. In my next newsletter, I will discuss a step by step process on how to make this vital change.
Until then, if you’re interested in further coaching and/or a church consultations, check out our pastoral resources at Knowing Jesus Ministries.
I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to send me an email at Brandon@tjclive.com