The term “church member” has a long and venerable history going all the way back to the New Testament. Paul used it to convey the reality of being a living part of an interconnected and dynamic body – we are to be “members one of another”.
But we live in a culture that exalts consumerism. And in a consumer culture a “member” is someone who is entitled, not someone who is responsible, someone who is in a transactional relationship where dues are paid in exchange for benefits bestowed.
We ante up for membership in the neighborhood pool or the country club and in return get a key fob or dining privileges.
Some churches confer the title of “member” on anyone who signs a register, attends a class, takes communion, or donates at least once a year. In return, the member has a place for weddings, baptisms, and funerals.
Membership in a consumer-driven society is played on the ground of the cul de sac rather than a mission field.
In many consumer-oriented churches what is defined as “community” is often little more than enlistment into a lifestyle enclave.
Here’s the key – biblical community is focused outward. It is focused on making a difference in the lives of those who are outside the community of faith at the present time. A true community is called to participate in God’s mission in the world and so the shared interests of those who happen to inhabit a common cul de sac cannot define it.
A lifestyle enclave feels like “belonging” but in fact is often little more than a collection of individuals, pursuing individual interests, shielding one another from life outside the subdivision.
There’s a better way! It’s the way of outward-focused community centered on mission. And in the midst of that mission the richest, deepest relationships are found and shared.
One of the best ways at turning a cul de sac church into a missional community is through a visioning process that calls out the best in your leadership and your people. Give us a moment to share how we might serve your church in this way.