I have been thinking a lot about what it means to become a member of a congregation. I talk every Sunday with potential members to our congregation. It is really interesting to hear people's reactions to becoming "official" members. Some are very blase and just want to know how they can sign the membership book. Others are very concerned that they follow the exact process to membership and don't miss any steps. Some become completely paralyzed by the thought of actually signing their name to anything (even though they faithfully volunteer and pledge).
What does it mean to you? Do you feel the need to sign the membership book to feel like you belong? Have you signed a membership and still not felt like you were really a member of the community? While the number of members a congregation has is measured by the names in its Membership Book, I feel it can be a weak indicator of the real membership of the congregation. Sure, you can have 300 in the book, but only 100 active members. Or the reverse, perhaps you you have 150 active members but only 75 have signed. What is the true indicator of membership? Should those people who don't sign, but in every other way act in covenant with the congregation, be considered members? Conversely, what use is it to have lots of members in the book if they don't show any real commitment to the congregation? How do you measure numbers like that? Is it really even important?
I would be curious to hear what you consider it is to be a member. Why or why not is it important to you. Can you only be in covenant with a congregation if you have signed to book? How many books have you signed? Was it hard or easy to join? Did you take any classes? Did it feel like a special occasion? Did you expect more then what happened? I would really appreciate any insight you may have. I am looking to rework our process and make it as meaningful as possible.