This is probably (but just like I never leave the house without forgetting something, who knows?) the final posting in the “Why Join a church series?” It’s not because I don’t think there are a plethora of reasons, but because I just don’t feel like discussing more reasons like discipline (protecting you, your family, your church family from YOUR sins, or protecting you, your family, or your church family from YOUR FAMILY’s sins), or some opportunities to serve as teachers and lead which only come with membership.
When you join a church, you are agreeing that you are on the same page with the direction of the church. It does not however, mean that you agree with every decision the elders make (remember, they are elected by the people so its important that you elect ones according to I Tim 3 and Titus ), but the general direction of the church. The specifics just need to fall under the general direction. Now as a caveat, when the general direction isn’t agreed upon by the elders, that makes it difficult if not impossible to uphold your membership commitments.
And it is possible that the church could change and be wrong. But it is equally possible, and perhaps more likely, if you have good elders with a common vision, that your specific opinion could be wrong.
So you are committing to support that general direction without griping or complaining, or maintaining a grumbling spirit, like the Israelites did before they made it to the Promised Land. Our senior pastor Barret once said that he doesn’t expect from members “to complain about the music, I might expect that from visitors, and perhaps regular attenders.” We do have music at Redeemer which incorporates old and reworked hymnody, as well as older/newer praise songs. One reason that we can do so without griping (and I know the worship style is not to everyone’s taste-for some its too traditional and for others too contemporary), for the most part, is because we have had it that way from the beginning. And I can’t prove this exhaustively, but from the newer folks I’ve spoken with who do have different preferences, I can tell many have embraced their membership commitments.
In addition, when you join a church, you are agreeing to “support the church in its worship and work.” Supporting includes tithing as part of your partnership. The work “koinonia,” from which we get the words “partnership” and “fellowship” also can mean “giving.” This is one way to partner. But the “Treasure,” aspect of the pithy, but helpful, “Time, Talent, Treasure” alliteration also includes your property.
I think using your house, or boat, or land to bless others is also part of this commitment which you make when you join. In my last church, one man never had anyone over to his house for hospitality, but he regularly used his land for monthly paintball. That was part of his membership commitment, which he joyfully did.
Many of us have Time or Talent that is often unused in gospel partnership. When you join, you are publicly committing to use your gifts and passions, or perhaps simply time, to serve where is needed.
Anyhow this is my “take” on the public commitment you make regarding church support. You can do many of these things without joining, but its hard to deny that making the public commitment doesn’t means something.