Five Promises Every Church Member Makes

by Dan Bracken, Communications Director

This Sunday is Mother's Day! We’ll have free ice cream to celebrate the influential women in your life, and our coffee shop is likely to have a surprise or two. And don't miss the lobby! It will be layered with flowers, on sale to raise money for our Student Ministry mission experience in Chicago.

I love my mom. I love her because she loves me just the way I am. And because she lets me say, "Happy Mother's Day" in weird ways.

In worship this Sunday, you'll also hear a little bit about our upcoming New Members Class.

I recently posted a quick poll in the Ginghamsburg group on Facebook.

(By the way, we're almost at 700 members... if you have a Facebook account and haven't joined, do it now!)

The post mentioned our upcoming New Members Class, then asked, "Are you already a Ginghamsburg member?"

Many of you, Ginghamsburg E-news subscribers, are also "already members." Of our 883 E-news subscribers, 108 are members who have recently scanned the QR code during worship to check-in.

So, for the rest of you who are not members–let me invite you to our upcoming New Members Class, starting Sunday, May 19!

What does it mean to be a church member?

If you're already a Ginghamsburg member, this will be a good reminder of the promises you have made. For the sake of all who are curious, here are the five promises every Ginghamsburg Church member makes:

1. A promise to worship.

Faith in Jesus is a process where followers are lifelong learners who grow through God’s love into a deeper understanding of God, others and ourselves. Weekend worship (both in-person and online) is about being together. We learn names, recognize faces, practice empathy and grow in trust. We embrace Jesus’ design of one body, one church. Unity is a biblical mandate and not optional. Throughout Christian history, numerous thoughts, views and opinions have been held concerning a variety of issues. We believe it is important to promote unity in the middle of disagreement, giving the church opportunity to engage in healthy and respectful conversation. We recognize this means at times passionate disagreement, but we are committed to holding opposing viewpoints in love. Being a member of Ginghamsburg Church means you exceed the cultural norm of "attending 1.5 times a month.” Essentially, you show up for worship because you want to – not because you're required to.

Nationwide, church attendance is declining. 22% of adults aged 18-29 attend religious services regularly. Regularly is defined as "once or twice a month."

At Ginghamsburg, the number of individuals who have "checked-in" (registered their attendance) at least 24 times in the last two years is 425.

I know our wider connection is more expansive than that, but let me say this: It's so good to see everyone each week! It's good to be seen. To be heard. To be recognized. To be with people different than you. To belong!

"He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ." (Colossians 1:28)

2. A promise to group life.

It's in group life that we are challenged to grow in our awareness and application of the Bible. Awareness through study and collective wisdom; application through authentic relationship. Sometimes it's a class, sometimes it's a mission trip and sometimes it's basketball in the Avenue on Sunday afternoons. Being a member of Ginghamsburg Church comes with the expectation that you intimately connect with other Christ followers to develop deeper intimacy with God, experience real community and improve your witness with unbelievers. A life group is a common way to pursue this goal. Life groups create a space for people to intentionally share their lives with others, grow spiritually together, and encourage each other through the highs and lows of life.

Hold each other in accountability. Pray for one another. Solve problems together. Experience deep friendship. Being a member means embracing life rhythms of faith, family and food.

"All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16)

3. A promise to serve.

Volunteerism isn't enough. When you volunteer, your calendar still dictates your availability. Serving is next level. To be a member of Ginghamsburg Church, it's not about your ability, but your availability. As a member, you take your cues from Moses: "Here I am! Send me!" In fact, if you want to teach a Ginghamsburg class, captain a Ginghamsburg life group, start a Ginghamsburg ministry or lead a Ginghamsburg mission experience, membership is typically required.

I can remember my first church volunteer job: playing bass guitar in the youth group band. In ways I can't describe, I am who I am today because I played bass guitar in the youth group band. To be a volunteer is a necessary first step. I showed up when scheduled, rehearsed the songs and followed the leader. That was much different than when I recruited the band, picked the songs, taught the songs and led the way. Jesus commissioned the Church to invite all people to discover their call and giftedness through the Holy Spirit, so that all may love and serve within the Body of Christ. Volunteering is the process of exploration and discovery. Serving is purpose, training, leadership and call.

"In Christ we, though many, form one body...each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us." (Romans 12:5-6)

"So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." (Ephesians 4:11-13)

4. A promise to give.

I've been watching a Netflix series called Suits. It's about corporate lawyers and a fraud who practices law without a license. Parallel to the main plot, much of the drama has to do with the firm's feuding partners. In one of the episodes, a heated argument boiled over between two of those feuding partners. One needed money (a personal loan) from the other to mitigate a situation that was threatening the firm's survival. When his request was denied, he retorted in disgust, "Geez, have a little faith in me!" His partner boldly responded, "you can have my faith. You just can't have my money."

Guess what? Ginghamsburg members are not corporate lawyers (thank God). A commitment to give means you understand that faith and money go hand-in-hand.

Now, I need to be honest. This must be hard for us.

Consider our most recent worship gathering. Worship on Sunday, May 5 had 1,135 people in attendance. If you remove kids, remove students and consider "family giving" (where one adult may represent giving for an entire family unit), our most generous estimate is that 53% of our congregation gave anything at all. Using the same formula for the previous Sunday, our upper estimate is 40%. And that's individuals who give anything. Those who tithe represent a much smaller percent. Our ministry is being sustained by a small percentage of our worshiping body. I chose the word sustained carefully...we're surviving! Members want to thrive, and know that generosity is the engine of innovation. Everything you own belongs to God. For those of us who understand tithing, God lets us keep 90%. Ginghamsburg Church members commit to accelerating creativity and compassion by fueling research and opportunity through acts of financial generosity. That's hard. We can help!

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” (Malachi 3:10)

5. A promise to go ALL IN.

At its core, the New Members Class is specifically designed to help you fulfill your baptismal vows. Therefore, baptism is a pre-requisite of membership. But never fear! The class comes with an invitation to go ALL IN.

Of those 425 individuals who have checked in at least 24 times over the last two years, 163 have no baptism record and are not yet members.

If that's you, what are you waiting for!?

28 of those 425 individuals are baptized but not members. And, according to our E-news subscriber, baptism and membership records, that's at LEAST four of YOU, dear readers, who are baptized, but have not become a church member.

So once more, if that's you, what are you waiting for?!

Either let your yes be yes, or your no be no (Matthew 5:37).

I could call you out by name... but that would be creepy. ; )

Let's love Jesus and do something about it.

Register for the Ginghamsburg New Members Class today.

Dan Bracken

Communications Director


New Series Begins Next Weekend!

We have even more in store on Sunday, May 19!

Next Sunday is Grad Weekend. We're celebrating our graduates and their future endeavors.

Our next series, Wading in the Shallow End, also launches next Sunday.

We’re addressing shallow spirituality - believing in God but fearful to go all in. It's time to dive deeper into the waters of faith. Each week we navigate the murky waters of complacency, and encourage cannonballscan openers and belly flops of wholehearted dedication to Jesus.

It’s time to abandon the the shallows of religion and embrace the depth of God's purpose for your life. Just don't be this guy.


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