Imagine walking up to a professional hockey player and asking him this question: “What team do you play for?” Now suppose he answers, “I’m a professional hockey player, but I don’t play for any team.” You would think the guy had been slammed into the boards once too often.
A similar scenario plays out in our society when it comes to church membership. There are many people who claim to be Christ-followers, but they are not committed to a local church. I believe the Bible teaches that growing, maturing Christ-followers will be connected and committed to a local congregation. At Fellowship, membership is a high priority. It’s easy to sit in the stadium and cheer for the ones on the field, but we encourage people to climb out of their seats, suit up, and play on the team called Fellowship Church.
We are up-front and honest with prospective members about who we are, where we’ve come from, and where we’re going. And we have developed a member profile—and expectation of membership—based on that history and vision. A member must meet the following criteria: be a Christ-follower, be baptized by immersion, attend church at least three out of four weeks a month, tithe, join a small group, and participate in a ministry team. We expect people who join Fellowship to be serious about their membership. If they are not serious about their commitment to our church, then we don’t want them to take up space; we encourage them to join another church where they can just sit and soak.
I have never been afraid to tell people that Fellowship Church is not for everyone—we don’t even try to be. We have a unique vision that may not be shared by some people, and that’s OK. We always encourage those who don’t share the vision to find another church that meshes with their personalities and backgrounds.
I am also not hesitant to ask a current church member to leave Fellowship. I believe that one of the great principles of a growing church is addition by subtraction. If a church is going to grow, there are some people who need to leave. I don’t mean that they are bad people; but if they don’t support the values, vision, and leadership God has given us, they need to leave. Life is too short to be part of a church you don’t believe in.
Andy Stanley/Ed Young, Can We Do That: 24 Innovative Practices That Will Change the Way You Do Church, (Howard Publishing Co.), 2002. pg. 36