This is a guest post from Patricia – a Church Management Consultant and blogger at Smart Church Management where she writes about strategic planning, goal development, church volunteer management, employee development and offers pointers on church administration.
According to a report in the Christian Post, church membership is down in the two largest Christian denominations – The Southern Baptist Convention and the Roman Catholic Church.
While the article admits that further research needs to be done to answer the question “why”, the report does state that “church-goers” who are in their 20s and 30s may attend a congregation but “resist” joining them.
This kind of report is poignant because of all of the benefits there are to being a member of a church.
A well run church provides the atmosphere for spiritual, social and physical support that is not available in other social organizations.
When I reflect on my own church experience, I think of the those things that drew me to a church body and those things that keep me engaged with other Christians.
Benefits of Local Church Membership
Most of my life-long friends have developed through a connection to a church family. Whether it was people I knew through church as a child or the parents of children my kids played with or friends I made belonging to varies church activities – most of my current relationships are tied to that church anchor. Making and having friends that share the same beliefs and values help us all navigate this bizarre world we live in.
2. Opportunities to Make a Difference
One of the biggest benefits of church membership is its collective resource that provides opportunities to help others and make a difference. Church volunteer opportunities are available at most churches and these opportunities provide the system and structure to serve or support a cause. For example, my church does disaster relief work and provides the structure for Volunteers to get involved in helping other people. These kinds of experiences reinforce the Christian call to love and help other people. When we know we make a difference for a cause it gives us hope for a better world.
Belonging to a church provides a level of accountability for its members. Members that receive good biblical teaching learn to make good decisions, are held accountable by just showing up and being reminded of their core beliefs. The world offers many distractions and contradictions to Christian beliefs so having a community of people to interact with who think the same way helps to reinforce and hold us accountable to biblical principles.
4. Sense of Community
Our fast paced culture has many of us living in isolation so much that we often live in neighborhoods and don’t even know the people down the street. Belonging to a church body provides interactions with other people and creates a social community.
5. Personal Development
As Christians we are all on a journey of personal, spiritual and ethical development. Whether we are new Christians or have been a Christian for a long time, a dynamic church can offer church leadership, discipleship and spiritual development and growth.
6. Social Events
One of the many perks of being part of a church body is the availability of social events and interactions with others. Whether it is participating in a bible-study, a baby shower, or the Wednesday night pot-luck dinner – the opportunities are there to participate in church events with friends and other church members.
It breaks my heart when I speak to people who don’t go to church because of some misperceptions about the church experience. It is common for people to get offended or hurt by someone at a church and they decide to boycott the entire institution. I”m not suggesting that churches are perfect places with perfect people – because they are not – but I am suggesting that finding a great church that you can call home and make life-long friends is well worth the time and effort.
I challenge you to step up and get involved if you have a church and if you don’t have one, find a church get involved and watch your life get transformed!
Any other benefits I missed? Share them in the comments below!