We at Abbots Road URC encourage people to feel part of a Church Family without making the commitment to membership – but if people want to make that commitment there are two parts to Church membership:
· 1. Confirmation – confession of faith (a re-affirmation of Baptism) which confirms us as part of the whole Church of Jesus Christ
· 2. Reception into membership of the local church – where we can be with other disciples of Jesus supporting and caring for each other so that we can live out our life as Christians day by day, week by week. We all need this support – the Church Membership is a tool/a vehicle for us to do that.
Okay but doesn’t that happen anyway?
As members of the Church Meeting, members are empowered to be part of the decision-making process in the church. Sometimes this may not seem important but there are times in the life of every church when it is – electing elders, deciding vision and mission priorities, calling a Minister (or these days making a case for a Minister). Does this church warrant a Minister? How many members are there? This is in effect how the commitment in a church can be judged. How else can we measure ‘commitment’?
But for us membership goes beyond that. It is about making a public acknowledgement that this is where our commitment lies.
If, as disciples of Jesus, we believe that the local church is important – if we want to ensure that the fellowship will endure into the future – then we have a responsibility to play our part in making this happen. If no-one is prepared to take that responsibility the local church (as we know it) will certainly not last beyond a generation. Membership is both a privilege and a responsibility; It is a privilege to be part of the Church of Jesus Christ and to be seen to express that locally, and a responsibility to do that well as faithful disciples.