Friday, April 1, 2016

Notes on the Benefits of Membership

The Benefits of Membership

II Chronicles 34:13-33

Culturally, the decline in people becoming members of organizations is well documented.  This is not limited to the church.  But the easier work is to recognize the deconstruction that has taken place.  The more interesting question is, by placing less value on membership, what are we missing?

Definition from the Book of Order:
MISSION with a Purpose

*Church engaged in God’s mission

*Engaged with all the gifts necessary for being a church

*local congregation provides an example of the witness of the Church, contributing strength to the whole

The specific mission:  Reach out with the gospel, gather for worship, offer care and nurture, speak for justice and righteousness, bear witness to truth and God’s reign coming to the world

Not designed to work without trust and love.

MEMBERSHIP by a Promise

What is membership?

individuals living together in covenant life with God and each other through their confession of Jesus Christ as Lord.

Baptism:  of believers—God’s gift of grace calls forth a response
               of children—God’s love claims people before they are able to respond in faith.

 Let us understand membership in Christ's body as a gift of grace that has come to us from before us, and a gift that needs a response.

Illustration of giving a gift:
Take what you know of a person you love, that you want to bless.
You take care and the steps necessary to make another person happy.
What do you hope for when you give the gift?  Thank you response.

Ultimately, the benefits of membership are not self-fulfillment but participation in God’s mission for the world.

 What do members do?  The ministry of members    (read directly from the Book of Order)


Model led by Josiah (Healed by Yahweh)


*Transition from Assyria to Babylon, Jerusalem free to rule itself

*Josiah comes to reign in 631

*a time of monarchy, not constitutional representative

*part of God’s work in Israel, not the church nor America

*lessons of the benefits to membership to be learned by this story

The benefits of community and membership
1.         Leaders who seek the righteousness of God and are attentive to and humble before God. (19)

2.         Truth telling, even if it involves judgment of sin against the community  (21)

3.         the gifts of a great variety of people are valued, such as Hulduh,  (22)

4.         to be brought into God’s story, his call and judgments  (23-26

5.         mercy to the humble  (27)

6.         being called together (the least to the greatest, together) to listen to God’s word together (30)

7.         healing and mercy to the community that remembers the word of God, even if it has not been reviewed or practiced for generations (30)

8.         togetherness that invites participants to remember God’s covenant with the people and obey it now (32)

9.           to clean the space of idolatry (33)

10.     to live in devotion to the Lord (33)

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