Member or Disciple?

So, you want to be a member of the church?  I wonder if we are using the right word for that particular question. Membership has at its base the idea that there is something to be gained by being a member. You become a member because you “receive” something. There are perks that come with membership. For example, if you are a member at this shopping center, you can receive big discounts on your purchases. Member at the Country Club?  You may enter and play this course. Or if you are a member at a sports facility, you can use those facilities without additional fees. Membership has its privileges!

That makes me wonder; why do we talk about belonging to a faith community as “membership”. Because honestly, truthfully, being a part of a faith community such as Immanuel has more to do with giving than it does receiving. We give God our worship. We use our gifts to accomplish the mission of the church. We present our offerings and tithes. We give of our time to make worship, events, repairs and the like, happen. What we receive is intrinsic; a sense of community, a feeling that we are making the world a better place, a warm fuzzy because we are able to impact other’s lives in a positive way.

So, perhaps the word that we should be using is disciple. Disciple refers to someone who learns from the master. Someone who follows and reflects the example the master has shown. One who seeks to share the message of the teacher. So, do you want to become a disciple of this faith community? Ok, good; let’s get you connected with a ministry or two and here is the sign-up sheet for worship assistants. Oh, by the way, could you bring a dessert for a funeral? Is anyone available to set up coffee fellowship on Sunday? We need folks to stuff backpacks for Blessings in a Backpack.  “But wait, what do I get?” Well, you get the comfort of knowing you are part of something greater than your own little circle. You receive a sense of peace when you realize you are part of the solution rather than the problem. You get to give your time, talents and resources in the pursuit of God’s mission and bringing forth God’s kingdom. You get to offer your praise and worship because God is worthy even if that means singing some songs you don’t like or being bored for one hour a week. Being a disciple means making a commitment to God that reaches beyond self.  It means surrendering self to a greater mission for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It means sometimes putting aside your preferences so that the message of good news can be shared. It means supporting the community in ways that might make you a little uncomfortable. Being a disciple means your life is about God and what God desires for us.

Want to sign up? There are still plenty of openings!