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I’ve been ambivalent about church membership for a couple of years. People just are not joining. Not just churches but service groups and other organizations.

We’ve been experiencing a strange phenomenon for the last several years. There are more and more people who are regularly engaged, attending small groups, serving in different ministries, worshiping regularly, and giving and tithing regularly. But they are not members.

On any given Sunday at both the Little Church and Lakewoodgrace the average attendance is 10%-20% greater than our membership.

I used to see this as a positive thing at best, and at worst was ambivalent about it.

But I think I am changing my tune on the membership thing. I am beginning to think that membership really matters. I am thinking I have been misleading people as their pastor about what it means to be church.

You see, most breakthroughs in relationships and in spiritual maturity happens as a result of working through yuckiness, discomfort, and pain. Growth and maturity occur at the back-end of having worked through yuckiness, discomfort, and pain.

And if people quit on each other when yuckiness, discomfort, and pain surface, we will fail to experience growth and maturity.

When things are going really well and people are happy, people continue to come, serve, and give.

But when things go sour and get uncomfortable, people with the least commitment to community bolt.

We, at the Little Church and Lakewoodgrace have been intentional about using the language of “family” to describe how we view our relationships with one another. The thing about family is that families work stuff out. Even when it’s hard and difficult, family don’t desert or quit on one another. We stick it out. We figure out how to work things out together. That’s what families do.

As a result, relational growth and maturity occurs.

Same is true for churches. Because we are sinful human beings, ugly, uncomfortable, yucky situations always come up. And because we are Christ’s body we work it out. We stick together. We don’t desert one another. As a result, we grow and mature spiritually and organizationally.

The temptation to leave, find another place, bolt the uncomfortable is too great when yuckiness happens.

So, I don’t care if we call it membership or mutual covenant or whatever else. The thing is, church is more than a place where we experience “happy.” Church is a place where we commit to grow, love, serve together.

So, if you’ve been regularly attending the Little Church and Lakewoodgrace and haven’t joined the church, join the Little Church and Lakewoodgrace and become a member here. Commit yourself to being family with one another.

If you’re not comfortable with joining a church, then covenant with the folks at the Little Church and Lakewoodgrace that we are going to do life and faith together through the thick and thin.

Without commitment to work with one another through the yuckiness of being sinful human beings, we will fail to grow and mature. Simply, we will fail to be Christ’s church.

The Little Church and Lakewoodgrace exist to grow disciples and mature disciples by sharing the love of Jesus with all people.

I don’t think it’s possible to grow and mature as a disciple of Jesus Christ without being committed to working with other disciples to be the body of Christ, the church.

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