Are You a Partner?

35

Before I start…I am asking seriously for whoever reads this to give me an honest opinion and/or reply regarding church partnership or membership.

I have been attending my church for 2 years.  Two years ago this month I walked into NCR and listened to my Pastor, Bill Giovannetti, for the first time.  His message knocked the wind out of me.  God whispered in my ear “This is your home”.  I didn’t know anybody at the church.  I came back all through the holidays that year.  Pastor Bill did a series called Wild at Heart. It was amazing. 

I had been in Redding 3 1/2 years at that time.  My father in law is a Lutheran pastor and for a long time when we first moved I chose not to go to church.  I felt pressure to attend his church and I really didn’t want to or enjoy it.  So I became a 2 time a year church attender, Christmas and Easter.  That only worked for me for about a year and a half.  I enjoy worship to much to be satisfied with just watching it on television.  I also hadn’t found some of the internet services that I enjoy now then.  So the search started. 

Unless it is really scary or just plain odd, I won’t make a decision about a church for a bit.  I will attend through a season.  I will see who covers for the regular pastor when he is gone.  Who does the worship on a regular basis.  Which people in the congregation are happy and which aren’t.  After a period of time I decide if I am staying or not.  So in the 2 years that I searched this area for a church I attended 4 churches before going to NCR.  One visit and it was home, within 4 weeks I was invited to join an iGroup (small group).  My daughter attended the Jr. High Experience and loved it.  We still attend this church.  Neighborhood is our home.

I have recently started training again for a care ministry through our church.  I had started the training last year but due to the unknown health issues I had to stop the training.  I have also been feeling a calling in my heart to attend a partnership class.  This is what they call membership.  I want to be a partner in my church.  I think that it is important to be part of a team.  So tomorrow I am attending the partnership class and it is my intention to join my fellow church goers and become a true partner of Neighborhood.

I was talking with a friend about this on Friday.  She said something that has just been stuck in my head.  I really never thought of myself as naive but I guess I must be.  She asked me why I was going to “join” the church.  I said that I had been attending for 2 years and felt that it was time and that I was going to be later volenteering in a care ministry.  That I felt it would make the care receivers more comfortable to know that I was a partner of the church.  I also explained that NCR is my home I want to help support it.  She then said to me…..”People attend the same church for years and never join.”  Really?  Why?

SO………
What does church membership/partnership mean to you?
Do you know people that have attended for years that never have joined?

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Published in: on November 15, 2008 at 5:28 pm  Comments (4)  
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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Theresa, I personally think that some people are afraid to join because of the commitment, just like people are afraid to get married because of the commitment. While I would much rather someone come and never join than not come at all, there does indeed come a time when making the next step of commitment is not only appropriate but it is RIGHT.

    As the Lord works in our hearts, He leads us to take greater steps of faith and that involves putting ourselves more “on the line” so to speak. It is only as we follow these promptings in obedience that we grow in Him and He reveals more of those treasures He holds in the palm of His hand.

    Church membership is not a command in the Bible…but it is a way of saying “I’m with you. I’m here to serve and to associate myself with this body.” In that regards, it is a way to exhort others in the body and to hold ourselves accountable. For me, this is not a duty but a blessing. And it helps me keep my priorities straight.

  2. This is a good question. I have been attending the same church off and on for 10 years now and am not an official member. I have thought about ‘joining’, but simply haven’t made time for the ‘membership class’. I think that membership may mean more to some then others. Personally, I know that my heart is committed to being where God wants me to be, and right now that’s at Church of the Nations, and I serve and participate there just like any official ‘member’. I think it’s important to ask yourself what your motive is– if you feel like the Lord has put this on your heart then do it, but if you are just trying to please others– I don’t know. It is important to submitt to the leaders God has called you to be under. Heehee, I don’t think I’m really helping here. I would just seek the Lord.

  3. For me, becoming a member (“partner” as we call it) means commitment. Again, for me – it’s the difference between moving in with someone versus marrying them. I knew when He brought me there it was home and that was that … 5 years ago.

    I do know some people who became members in order to serve because you can’t serve in certain ministries unless you go through the training. Had they not wanted to serve in those ministries they wouldn’t have “joined.”

  4. Hi Theresa,
    First, thank you for your very kind words about our church and our ministry. It’s always nice to hear the stories of how God is leading and working in the lives of people at NCR.
    Second, you’re raising a great question, one that our leadership and I have struggled with too! Stonefox and Hope nailed it, from my perspective. We changed the term from membership (like a country club) to partnership (like a team) because we wanted our partners to understand that church life is more than a spectator sport. The act of becoming a member does a couple of things: 1) it helps us as leaders to know who we can count on, you kind of “come out of the closet” and say, I’m gonna pitch in and make this place work! 2) it helps us make sure that our core leaders know our mission, vision, and doctrine… and that we’re all on the same page. Yes, informal involvement is wonderful, but partnership allows us a level of confidence that our wonderful volunteers in key positions have signed on to the same evangelical doctrines and the same evangelistic mission that our church and denomination hold dear. It’s late, and like my preaching, i’ve already gone on too long. Great blog. Thanks again. Bill


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