Friday, September 28, 2007

Community/Church Membership Proposal

At our September Council Meeting, I made a proposal that we make some changes in how our church does membership. Here's the text of what I gave the council (church board).

Church Membership Requirements:

Background Information: Current rules on church membership: Option 1 – Full Membership in the Church of the Nazarene. Requirements: A) Commit to basic beliefs from the Church of the Nazarene. B) Commit to helping our church fulfill our mission and vision through the 10 Commitments.

To strengthen the community of our church, I will:

(1) Act in love toward others (especially those of other cultures).

(2) Faithfully participate in worship services.

(3) Try to participate regularly in a small group.

To join the ministry of our church, I will:

(4) Find a job in the church that fits me.

(5) Give faithfully.

(6) Invite and welcome new people.

To increase the passion of our church, I will:

(7) Develop my relationship with God.

(8) Pray for our church and our pastors.

(9) Deal with conflict biblically.

(10) Do my best to live like Jesus.

Option 2 – Associate Membership. Requirements: A and B above + C) Must be a member of another church in another city and plan to return as an active member of that church. (Our current plan is not to report Associate Members to the District Office, so as not to create statistical confusion by having one person be registered as a Baptist and a Nazarene.)


Some people have expressed a reluctance to join our church because of one or more of the following reasons: 1) They do not want to commit to the Church of the Nazarene long term, and do not meet requirement C. 2) They do not agree with some of the ethical stances of the Church of the Nazarene (ex: no alcohol, no gambling). 3) They are not able to commit to the basic beliefs of the Church of the Nazarene.

If we could somehow officially include these people in our community, we might see the following results: a) increased membership, b) increased commitment to our church and mission, c) becoming a more welcoming, more inclusive community, c) unity in mission rather than division around doctrines, denominations, and unessential ethical stances, d) more people actively engaging in the spiritual process, e) becoming a church that understands that we are all seeking God (without full understanding).

Sometimes people need to belong before they believe.

Proposal:

1) Change “Associate Membership” to “Community Membership,” only requiring commitment to our mission through the “10 Commitments.” There would be no faith requirements or ethical commitments outside this simple list.

2) Give all “Community Members” the option of also becoming a member of the international Church of the Nazarene (according to Nazarene rules).


I am very interested in hearing your thoughts and ideas about this. In our September meeting, we only raised the issue. We did not have time for a full discussion. In our October meeting, we will devote more time to discussion, and we might be ready to make a decision on this.
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