RIVERSIDE, Calif. (BP) — Attendance far outpaces membership at Orangecrest Community Church, where members complete a three-step process to get on the roster and renew annually to remain members.
Brittany and Taylor Neece have renewed their membership annually since Orangecrest’s founding in 2008.
“There have been a lot of things about this church that have been unusual in the very best way,” Brittany said. “This is unusual. We recommit, and it’s actually very special. It’s a really meaningful process, and then membership really means something.”
Orangecrest Community Church has a record of 226 members with an annual average attendance of 535. During the past 18 months, Orangecrest has had 833 adult unique attendees not counting children, Senior Pastor Josh De La Rosa told Baptist Press.
“We’re aiming to help people become fully devoted followers of Jesus, that’s the goal. That’s why we have a membership even to begin with,” De La Rosa said. “We see, from Matthew 28:19-20, we see the church commission to make disciples who go public through baptism, and are being taught to obey (Jesus’) commands. Our commitment is to challenge our members to grow in knowing and living out those commands.
“The commitment is crucial, we think, because it helps us know who has (made) a commitment to be a growing disciple.”
Orangecrest is among 15 Southern Baptist congregations comprising the 17:6 Network of churches launched in 2015 through the ministry of Harold Bullock, who founded Hope Church in Fort Worth, Texas in the late 1970s.
De La Rosa learned the membership process from his sending pastor, Randy Lanthripe, founding and senior pastor of Church in the Valley in Ontario, Calif. It was the first time for de la Rosa that church membership involved more than making a public commitment or transferring by letter.
“The value of membership went up though at that point in my mind. I realized this is a different approach. You actually have an intentional membership process to walk people through their mission, their method, their values, their strategy,” De La Rosa said. “It was really there I learned it, and he learned it from his mentor Harold Bullock.”
The specific membership process may vary by congregation, but all 17:6 Network churches are unified in the acceptance of seven core heart attitudes drawn from Scripture.
Anna Chapman, who with her husband Dennis served on Orangecrest’s launch team, expresses “a specific, beating heart for certain things” in embracing the heart attitudes.
“Our heart is to help people grow in their next steps with Jesus and to reach the lost. That’s like two big things for us,” Chapman said. “We want people to know upfront. We want you to come and investigate at your own pace. You don’t need to be a member to do that, but if you want to be a member here, here’s what we’re asking of you.