To entice people to join the church, I once heard a minister tell a group of prospects that members of the church enjoy special member “benefits.” For example, he said: “You have the benefit of a pastor to visit you or pray for you when you are sick or hospitalized. You have the benefit of programs that are designed to meet the needs of you and your family. And you have the privilege to use the church’s facilities for weddings or funerals without a fee.”
However, I do not believe this is what Jesus ever intended the church to be. Church membership is not like an American Express Card membership, a Sam’s Club, a country club or gym membership where membership has its privileges. The gospel truth is that it is quite the opposite.
Church is not some place to come and receive, but is a dynamic opportunity to go and to give. Church is a chance to fulfill the greatest commandment of Jesus to love God and our neighbors as ourselves. Church is an occasion to deny and lose one’s self in sacrificial service to others. The purpose of church is not to meet your needs, but to transform your needs.
And the gospel truth is that church membership will not eliminate fees. On the contrary, church membership, if it is about following Jesus, will cost you dearly.