I googled the word membership and this is what came up in the search results:
Maine Historical Society, Portland Stage, Visit Portland, YMCA of Southern Maine
Often when we join organizations – when we become members, we are provided with tangible benefits. Admission to a museum. Tickets to performances. Advertising. Access to facilities. Become a member and get….
And typically, all that is needed to become a member is willingness to pay a fee. Payment of the fee determines whether you are a member in “good standing” or not. And I would dare say, that when we choose to become a member of most things – we are doing so because we like what we get in return for that affiliation.
So here’s the hard thing – that is not the point of church membership. At First Parish, we could say, become a member and get a plate, a directory a nametag, and a flower – but that I dare say that no one that joined today or in the past ever made the decision to join because they were going to get a free commemorative plate. You might say, well no, that’s not why I joined First Parish. I joined First Parish so I could have a faith community to rely on – one to share with in the good times and one to support me in the hard times. That’s a nice sentiment – but also not a reason to become a church member because - here’s little known secret – you can get all of those benefits of this community without ever joining. You could say I like what’s happening here at First Parish and I wanted to officially attach my name in support so I became a member – also not the point of church membership.