Members of the Body;
Members of the Church;
Members of the church (small c)
Paul has a great chapter about how Christians are all members of the body of Christ and how the church is the one body. It is a good read and you can find it in 1 Corinthians (chapter 12); I recommend it. Confessing Jesus and being baptized are what make us members of this mystical body to which we all belong. So, if you've done these things, then you are members of the Church (big C) of Jesus Christ in all places and times. That is some great mystical and theological stuff right there, and I should know.
HOWEVER, we also live in the regular, old, everyday world where there are hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions of churches (with a small c). These really are congregations - gatherings of local people in an area who are in the big C Church. Membership in individual congregations has some practical aspects that really don't have much to do with mystery and theology.
Membership at the Bristol United Church of Christ (BUCC) really has two practical, worldly aspects to it:
1.) People who become members of BUCC may vote in business meetings of the church;
2.) People who become members of BUCC may hold certain leadership positions in the church.
These practical aspects are necessary for the smooth and effective running of the organization that is BUCC. Many folks who are members of the big C Church and who attend services and are part of the BUCC ministry and program, are NOT members of the small c organization of BUCC. That is anyone's personal choice whether to join in BUCC membership or to simply maintain big C membership in the wider church. With the exception of the above two items, we make no distinctions at BUCC; indeed, you are welcome here. But I would ask you to consider becoming members of BUCC. Many people claim BUCC as "theirs." Would you allow us to claim you as "ours?" Think about that. And while you are thinking, here are some things you could look into: check out the Church Covenant that is hanging on my office door; ask me about the membership process; talk with some long-term members and some of our newer members (our recent confirmation class); ask yourself if this feels like your church home (long term or short).
I am hoping to welcome new members into the church this spring in at least one of our Sunday services.
Is it your time?