The discussion about the form of a covenantal relationship between a person and a specific church (often packaged as ‘membership’) has stirred up a lot of talk. I’m not surprised. This definitely needs rethinking and experimenting. If you know of other churches doing this in innovative ways (that seem to be working or not) get me connected. I’d like to learn from them.
I believe that as we grow in faith we move from being ‘at church’ to get our fill, and on through being involved to make sure the community delivers what I like, to the realization that I am there to not only meet my needs and preferences, but to build it for God’s purposes and so that others can receive what I have received. Okay, a long, run-on sentence. But those are important points and steps.
I like the idea that the bricks and mortar of Jacob’s Well are made of flesh and blood. We are a community, not a building. A movement, not an institution. Yes, that is a strange and oblique reference to Christ, but I what really mean is that WE are Jacob’s Well.
Becoming part of the Well should be a process, not a moment. It is about learning the vision, throwing your weight behind it and helping it to happen and evolve. It is learning and engaging, not signing and accepting. Perhaps it is a process that isn’t static. Something that people reaffirm yearly.
One thing I know for sure, cf Michelle’s comments to “Who wants to be a member?”, is that there is no special status conferred by this step of commitment to the vision of jacob’s well; such as availability to baptism (yikes! that chases grace right out of the sanctuary!), the expectation of giving, serving, (heavens… we’ll take anyone’s money or help!), or getting on a mailing list (we try to keep in touch with anyone who might feel that jacob’s well could add something to their life.) However the process of choosing to build the well with your own flesh and blood would be a time to help people discern what it means to give generously and sacrificially, to serve in ways that reflect who they are and serve God’s vision for this community, to move from anonymity to identification, etc.
How do we do it? I’ve been a church professional forever… one of my liabilities. I try to get out of the box and sometimes I do, but often I just swap boxes. Examine the role and importance of commitment, and tell me how you read this. Thanks!