A few weeks ago I wrote on the importance of Worship attendance.
Today I want to follow suit and write about the importance of church partnership. You may know it as church membership, but partnership seems to fit what it means much better.
Membership seems to denote that you are part of something where you get special benefits – think Costco or Sam’s Club. it can also carry the connotation that someone owes you something. This does not seem to fit well with what the church really needs or desires or intended with membership. Yet, some have defined it this way. A partnership, however, denotes that we are in this together. We partner with God to get things done that we couldn’t do by ourselves. This partnership is done through the church which holds us accountable.
Unfortunately accountability is not very popular these days. But the reality is, in our spiritual lives, there are few things that will help us grow in our relationship with Christ and others, better than accountability.
I recently read something that Richard Rohr, a Franciscan monk, wrote that explains church membership (partnership) in a way that I’ve not heard before…
“A crucible, as you know, is a vessel that holds molten metal in one place long enough to be purified and clarified. Church membership requirements, church doctrine, and church morality force almost all issues to an inner boiling point, where you are forced to face important issues at a much deeper level to survive as a Christian or even as a human. I think this is true of any religious community, if it’s doing its job. Before the truth “sets you free,” it tends to make you miserable.”
In the United Methodist Church we hold each other accountable through church partnership. When one becomes a partner we ask 5 questions centered around:
In the end we are saying that we give you the right to hold us accountable to at least these 5 promises.
Some will argue, “What difference does it make whether I partner with the church or not?” Argue the point if you will, but I have been on both sides of the fence and becoming a partner and being held accountable was way better. Accountability makes a difference. You become better at most everything when you’re held accountable, and your spirituality is no different.
Some of my friends agree with Rohr’s statement, “…Before the truth “sets you free,” it tends to make you miserable”, and some of my friends don’t. I agree with my friends! Maybe church partnership is just what you’ve been fighting. Maybe it’s because you know it might make you miserable before it gets better. Maybe it’s time that “you are forced to face important issues at a much deeper level.”
If you have already partnered with a church, then hold yourself accountable to the promises you made to Christ and the church! Ask yourself honestly how well you have kept the promises you made.
If you don’t fare too well, just remember we serve a God of second chances, and make a change today.
Something to contemplate.