Thoughts on church membership?

Attending charismatic churches my whole life, I’ve always been part of churches where people sign up as members to that particular church. Usually this involves getting to know how the church stands on primary and secondary issues, and then signing up on a particular Sunday and being welcomed into ‘membership’. I suppose the Anglican equivalent is being confirmed, but correct me if I’m wrong there.

I think the idea behind this is to encourage a sense of commitment from those attending, but also in some bodies (e.g. Baptist) it gives a chance for members to vote on things when they arise in certain ‘church members only’ meetings.

It’s got me thinking though. What about those who attend every week and serve the body of Christ but never sign this membership agreement? Are they any less part of the body for that? Should they be penalised by removing their right to have a say on how the church is run? What is the Biblical example for this sort of thing? Surely we should all be enacting out service to one another - that is what the body of Christ is all about - without having to also agree to what looks to me like a man-made standard? What are the dangers if we removed the practice of church membership?

I’d be interested to know how people perceive the benefits and drawbacks of this common church practice, as a way to remind ourselves of how we can act out our role as the bride of Christ in the most effectual way.

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Hi, @alison :wave:

Always hoping not to come across as crass or uncourteous, allow me to go directly to my response on the topic…

In the local church where I belong, it is a policy to welcome any such regular visitor with the same warmth as we do with regular members, if possible, even better. In two occasions, we have given a regular family visitor the chance to become honorary members without the family asking for it mainly due to their active participation, years of regular attendance, and significant involvement to various church activities. Both families gladly accepted the proposition and continued to be active, and even more so, after their official congregational welcome prayer.

For not being an official member, regular visitors remain excluded from partaking with the communion (the celebration of the Lord’s Supper). They may not also be included in the decision making sessions or church elder meetings.

I think it would be the sense of commitment that will be at stake if there’s no particular rules for being a member.
One of the two families we welcomed is not very active now, partly due to the Pandemic restrictions at first, but they still remain distant even now when restrictions are lighter. The pastor do not have to excommunicate them officially since they were, technically, unofficial members. But, should doctrinal issues arise, then an excommunication would be in order.

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