What are church members for?

I asked the same question about ministers so it seems only right that I ask the same question about members / people who attend church / adherents / punters (delete or insert as necessary).

What are church members for?

Is their role to turn up on a Sunday morning, sing, close their eyes at the appropriate time and put enough cash in the offering to pay for the minister / roof /organ repair (delete or insert as necessary)?

Is their role to listen to the well prepared and inspirational / rambling incoherent (delete or insert as necessary) sermon?

Or is there something else that the punters in the pews should be up to?

When you ask a congregation to bring a friend to church next week some of them look like you have asked for one of their kidneys.  Some looked as though they’d rather give you the kidney!  I don’t think they are unusual in that.

What does mission mean in your church community?

What does it look like?  Who does it?  Who organises it?

Or would you rather give me a kidney (delete or insert as necessary)?

5 thoughts on “What are church members for?”

  1. I like McLaren’s idea – “the church exists to form Christlike people, people of Christlike love.”

    I think that goes for “professional ministers” as well as those sitting in the pews.

    It also goes along with Lindsay Cofield’s explanation of church – “Church is a group of people believing and acting as the body of Christ in their sphere of influence.”

  2. I love all that Jonathon said!

    The role of worship is not for people to turn up to and not respond to. Worship should be transforming – maybe not everyone all of the time, but that is certainly what I hope I aiming at in worship. Each part of the service is as important as the next – my prayers, the songs/hymns, the talks/sermons all knit together to create a themed experience – the message being the thread holding it all together.

    Church members are the body of Christ that help support the ‘institution’ yes but hopefully more than that – being Christlike – the image of Christ in the world today.

  3. I wonder which church Cofield was in ?? A lot of churches I’ve seen can often resemble the Corinthian model. What Cofield says is what churches should be like, and part of being in a leadership role is to ease people towards that dream.

  4. Shauna and David – Cofield “leads” a church that meets in a park parking lot.

    Very organic. Very simple.

    He pastored a number of Baptist churches along the way as well.

    You can listen to his story here:

    Or check out a couple of his sites:
    http://www.coffeehousechurches.com &
    http://www.greenchurch.info – with a free e-book explaining the green/organic church.

  5. This is another great question, Stewart, and really does tie in with your previous one. Again I can’t help thinking that the system is more at fault than the ability/willingness of the people to get involved. The whole clergy/laity divide makes it very had for the church to be what God intended it to be.

    What you shared in the reply to your previous post about the curtain being torn in two is a crucial starting point, I believe. This showed God’s desire for everyone to be on a level playing field and I think the Christian church started like that with everyone sharing equally and nobody getting paid to ‘lead’ the church. Somewhere along the line, though, it got messed up and we eventually ended up with the system we have today. I often think that it kind of parallels the desire of the people of Israel to have a king, when God told them they really didn’t need one.

    So, back to the question of members. It seems that people are losing interest in the whole formal membership thing in the institutional church today. Since we changed direction in our location we’ve found that those who ‘get’ the vision and mission and want to be involved have no interest to join in the formal sense, which I have no problem with. Yet they are the ones who are most involved in advancing God’s Kingdom. They don’t see the church as some club to belong to, but see it as God’s people gathering together and sharing life together. They are the church, so it would make no sense to join something that they already are.

    I shared, on the something beautiful podcast, about how we had moved to ‘Hope’ and how it was completely different from where we were gathering before. However, I can’t help wondering if there is still too much institutionalism attached to what we do. I think that the next step might be not having paid staff/leaders/pastors/ministers (whatever word you want to use), which may free the people who are gathering even more to share God’s Kingdom with others.

    I think that as time passes the clergy/laity divide becomes more irrelevant and unworkable. It may be only a matter of time before debates/discussion on such issues become irrelevant, too!

    Now, if you really need that kidney…

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