These five unspoken questions lead to the second part of our assimilation system—CLASS.
In my opinion, the membership class is the most important class in your church. A strong membership class will build a strong congregation. A weak membership class will build a weak congregation. But keep in mind that a “strong” class doesn’t necessarily mean a “long” class.
Class 101 is only four hours long and is taught all on one day, but it produces a high level of commitment in our membership. Those who choose to join our church know exactly what will be expected of them as members. The strength of a membership class is determined by its content and call for commitment, not its length.
Some churches have a membership class, but they cover the wrong material in it. They fill the class with material on spiritual growth or basic doctrine. These subjects are vitally important, but they are more appropriately covered in classes that are separate from your membership class (which is why we offer Classes 201 through 401).
Your membership class should answer the following questions:
- What is a church?
- What are the purposes of the church?
- What are the benefits of being a member?
- What are the requirements for membership?
- What are the responsibilities of membership?
- What are the vision and strategy of this church?
- How is the church organized?
- How can I get involved in ministry?
- What do I do next once I become a member?
Here are a few tips for your membership class:
- If your church targets the unchurched, you need to include a clear explanation of salvation in your membership class because you will have many people who want to join your church who aren’t even believers yet! We always explain that trusting Christ is the first requirement for membership, and we have people saved in every membership class.
- Keep your membership class interesting and interactive by using video clips, a notebook with fill-in curriculum, small group interaction and a good meal together. Be sure to include a lot of stories that personalize the history, values and direction of your church. At Saddleback, we even include a quiz at the end of each class, testing the participants on how well they can state the purposes of our church and other important concepts.
- If possible, offer three versions of your membership class: a children’s version for older elementary kids, a youth version for junior high and high school, and the adult membership class.
- Make completion of your membership class a requirement for membership. People who are uninterested or unwilling to learn your church’s purposes, strategy, and the meaning of membership are failing to demonstrate the kind of commitment that membership implies. If they don’t even care enough to understand the responsibilities of membership, they cannot be expected to fulfill them after joining.
Membership is an act of commitment. The way you motivate people to make that commitment is to show them, value-for-value, the benefits they will gain in return. When people understand and value membership, they will get excited about it—and what was once just a crowd will turn into a church.
This article originally appeared here.