The Responsibility of New Church Members

MembersEvery few months my church offers a new members class called “Plugged In.” This class is designed to tell people who we are as a church, to give people the opportunity to ask questions about our church, to communicate the expectations of membership at our church, and to give people the chance to become members of our church. Yesterday the Lord blessed us with 15 new families. We’ve had big groups join after Plugged In classes, but not this big. For our church, this was a remarkable moment. It was moving to see these people lined up all the way across the front of our sanctuary.

Some were young. Others were old. Some were returning to Immanuel. Others were brand new. Some were brand new Christians. Others were returning to Christ. For all their differences, these 15 families had one thing in common. They were willing to acknowledge their need for Jesus and his church, and they committed to make Immanuel the place they “plug in” to the body of Christ.

As we ended our service with these families lined up at the front of the room, one word kept coming to mind … responsibility. We have the responsibility to welcome them into our family through genuine relationship. We have the responsibility to give them opportunities to grow as disciples. We have the responsibility to challenge them to use their gifts for the good of our church and the spread of the gospel. We have the responsibility to encourage them as spouses and parents and grandparents. We have the responsibility to care for their souls through healthy church discipline.

In the past, had I experienced a moment like this, the first word in my mind might have been “victory” … We got them to join, hooray, good for us! In my better moments I might have thought about the word “celebration” … Praise God for sending these people to us! Maybe I would have thought about the word “payoff” … All our hard work at outreach, making phone calls and sending emails and inviting people has now paid off!

Yesterday, all I could think about was the responsibility Immanuel has toward these families. Yes, it is a victory of sorts. Yes, we celebrate what God is doing. Yes, there has been hard work. But having these 15 families stand at the front of our sanctuary to become members is only the beginning. The real work begins now. God has entrusted these families to our care, and the responsibility we bear is a weighty one. My prayer is that God would strengthen us for the task at hand … welcoming, discipling, challenging, encouraging, and caring.

Originally published September 14, 2015 on