By Thaddeus Williams, Mission and Community Engagement Pastor
“Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” – JFK
On January 20, 1961, President John F. Kennedy challenged the nation with these words in his inaugural address. He was asking Americans to consider how they might contribute to the public good. It was a call to service and sacrifice, to be givers rather than takers. I believe these words could also be applied to the church, specifically as it pertains to church membership.
The question often arises, “why should I join a local church?” Being the self-centered people that we all are (you know it’s true) when we consider joining or becoming a member of something, we usually think about how it will benefit us or add value to our lives. We live in a consumeristic culture with a “what’s in it for me” attitude, which sometimes carries over into the church. However, this is the wrong perspective when thinking about the importance of church membership.
The church is not a social club. It is the living body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). Joining a local church does not increase your social status, but it does add tremendous value to your life. It gives us an opportunity to be part of something bigger than ourselves, which gives us a sense of purpose and fulfillment.
Church membership also adds value that translates to our personal and professional lives. We learn how to lead and love others well and become better spouses, parents, and neighbors. By serving in the church, we discover and develop gifts and skills that help us be better bosses or coworkers.
When we become a member, we become part of a spiritual family that, in many ways, can be more loving, caring, and supportive than our biological families. We enter into a covenant relationship with brothers and sisters in Christ who will walk alongside us, encourage us, pray for us, and challenge us. It offers a safe space to share our burdens and struggles and provides accountability that helps us grow and transform.
As Americans, we all get to enjoy the freedoms and benefits of living in this country, and therefore, most are willing to contribute to its well-being. It is similar in the church but with a countercultural twist in that the more we give or contribute to the body of Christ, the more benefit and freedom we will receive and experience in our lives. We come to find the blessing in giving just as much as receiving. We make the transition from being consumers to producers and make an impact on the world around us.
So, when it comes to church membership, ask not what the church can do for you – ask what you can do for the church… and see what God does in your life! Have questions about what church membership at CPC looks like? Sign up for our next Discover CPC class on November 13. You can do that here.