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!
Kalu James says
Good reasons to join a church !
Yes, the benefits are well worth it! Thanks for the comment! Patricia!
Patricia Reddick says
Church membership is nowhere in scripture. When you become born again you become a member of the Body of Christ. The early church met in small groups within the homes of the believers. Many leaders/pastors in churches today use membership as a way to manipulate and control people. I once attended a church where the pastor said, “if you don’t pay your tithes, you cannot participate in any of the ministries. And if you do not plan on paying your tithes, why become a member? This saddened me. I can not imagine how God feels about it.
I’m not sure if you’re advocating membership or attendance. My husband and I regularly attend church and reap the benefits listed above but, as the study suggests, we have thus far resisted becoming official members. We resent the implication that our original baptism (and then confirmation) isn’t legitimate since membership in our community church requires adult baptism.
Of late, however, I have begun to think my relationship with my church is like the couple who live together but don’t get married because they “don’t need that piece of paper”. As such, I am considering possibly going through the required full-immersion adult baptism – I have only to convince myself (as my faith grows and evolves) that I will be submitting not to the will of my church, but to my God; making public my declaration to live as a Christian.
It’s funny that you have this resistance because I experienced the very same thing! I was baptized as a baby and confirmed as a child but when I found the church I now call home it is customary for adult baptism. Interestingly (I hate to admit this) but I resisted because I felt like I was already Baptized and I didn’t want wet hair and smeared make-up (don’t laugh) but I can tell you that once I did my life changed pretty drastically. Its kind like out with old and in with the new and like you said a public declaration that changed my life! Thanks for the comment! Patricia
I fall into the category of Church attendee but not a member. I resist meeting with parishioners after services as I’d rather spend the time with my family than listen to gossip about the new committee. Sundays are my only rest days and are therefore precious family days. Other reasons I attend church (and tithe) but am not a member is the politics, gossiping and one-upmanship that occurs.
I totally understand where you are coming from and I don’t pretend that those things you resist don’t happen in church – because they do. But I guess I’ve learned to accept that my church family is very much like my real family, non of us are perfect, sometimes we do really dumb stuff, sometimes we hurt each others feelings but we learn to forgive and not let it affect our relationship. Thanks for the comment!
Kipp Hagaman says
The greatest danger I see is letting “church membership” lull me into thinking that it equates with a vibrant living relationship with a vibrant living God. I live in an area where folks love to cling to the traditions of men, rather than following God, wherever He may lead.
I absolutely agree, our relationship with God is our first priority that should never take the back seat to the traditions of men!
Thanks for the comment!
Emily @ evolvingPF says
My name appears on the membership rolls of our church but my husband’s does not. Try as I might to convince him that joining is worthwhile, he still fully participates in all activities (small group, volunteering, tithing, counseling) without being an official member. I guess my church doesn’t put enough of an emphasis on membership or draw enough distinction between members and non-members to convince him it’s worthwhile to join.
Yes I’ve noticed that not all churches require a formal membership process which has its pros and cons but I would say if your husband is willing to participate in all the areas you describe he is reaping lots of benefits.
Thanks for the comment!
A Cover says
by the church membership people can know each other and stay away from evil work. its a good practice to maintain religion. hope so all member have to agree with this benefit.
Hi! Thanks for the comment!
That is a great example of how the church community helps its members. Thanks for the comment!
Sean Hopcraft says
I think this is a good article but we as a church need to make sure that we don’t turn the church into a glorified hangout with social events. You already know that though 🙂
Great point! Thanks for the comment!
Jeff Sanders says
Interesting. I think within your 6 reasons lie the reason why so many don’t want to join a “church”. Billy Grahm once said (paraphrased) 95% of all churches would continue as is if Holy Spirit was removed from the earth. In your six reasons there is not one that can not be accomplished without Holy Spirit. I can go to the boy scouts and accomplish each of the six listen in this article. I believe paople are simply tired of status quo Christianity and are looking for experiences that can only be accomplished by the presence of God. Take prophecy as an example. Paul wrote a whole chapter on it’s importance for the Bride (1 Cor. 14) yet many it’s not practiced in many churches. Why? Because it requires listening to Holy Spirit and then passing on what He has said. It can only be done through a partnership with the Supernatural Being people are hoping to encounter. It can not be done by the boy scouts, the Elk’s lodge or by the Shriner’s. Partnering with God will change the world not “church” as usaul. The devil’s not afraid of us going TO church, he’s afraid we’ll become THE church. The only “membership” requirement is a relationship with the King!
Jeff you make some great pointer! Thanks for the comment!
Doesn’t God’s Word tell us to be in fellowship with other believers? Knowing that we are being obedient to God would be another benefit of belonging to a church. Also, worshipping together with other believers is very uplifting to me. Thanks for the post.
Felesia Ledet says
Great and it also help discover your God-given gifts and talents
Khris Doss says
Being a member; commits you to love one another, to serve others. Pray for other members. Personal care for the Elder. and remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of GOD; Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers; for thereby some have entertained angles unawares. Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body. It is not just referring to “getting religious,” or joining a church or believing and reciting correct creedal doctrines. the issue is becoming a christian.Read ( John 19:30). It is only by the Grace- activity of God in Jesus Christ that the opportunity of becoming and being a christian is afforded to mankind. For by grace you have been saved through faith: and that not of yourselves, it is of God; not as a result of works, Becoming a christian is not a matter of external physical attachment to a social organization called a “Church’. Becoming a Christian is a spiritual reality that transpires in the spiritual core of our being. Our spirit and soul and body is to preserved complete. (1Thess. 5:23) in Jesus Christ. The most basic need of man is not physical rejuvenation, or psychological adjustment, or social improvement, but spiritual exchange and regeneration. Because all of mankind began their physical lives spiritually.*dead in their trespasses and sins. (Eph.2:1,5), the primary need of man is to be made alive spiritually.
Aleshire Mueller says
It sure was nice when you said that being a member of the church give the person a chance to be a part of a community and get to know the people that they are living in the same neighborhood with. If that is the case, then my family and I really need to look for a church to attend. It has been a while since we moved into this neighborhood, yet we are yet to get to know anyone except for the people adjacent to us. That is not enough.
Dave Anderson says
I love how you talked about how most of your friendships are tied at that church anchor. I recently just moved and I am looking to make some new friends. I think going to a church service could really help in the process for my family and me. This could be a great experience for us!
Steele Honda says
Thanks for pointing out that belonging to a church body provides interactions with other people and creates a social community. My mom has always been religious, but as she gets older I am trying to encourage to become more involved in her religion so that she will have friends in the area and people there who can help her. I think the sense of community that comes with being in religion can really be beneficial to people who probably otherwise would not get out of their house much.
Rossonero Oladapo Olawole says
One benefit I guess you omit is that the church prays for her members not attendees. It’s pertinent to be a member and not attendee of a church. Kudos Patricia!
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Wow! Great reasons or benefits to joining the Church. Thank you so much for this interesting information about the church. impressive
Shaylee Packer says
As you mentioned, in attending church, you can make life long friendships and there is a sense of community within the church members. My daughter has moved around quite a bit, maybe joining a church would give her those friendships that she needs. I will have to show her this article, and see what she thinks.
Donna Smith says
The only difference I know of between members and non-members of my church are voting rights. We love, pray for, serve, and serve with members and non-members alike.
Akaninyene Johnny says
Church is place where unperfect people goes to make their effort and selfless services to God with the help of the Holy Spirit to make them become perfect. It is a place where we can interact and make friends with people who are not bloodly related to us but we feel free with them for the seek of Jesus Christ.