The Meaning of Membership

 “The more we thought about making disciples,
 the more we had to rethink the meaning of membership.” 
Glenn McDonald
\”Pastors must turn over much of the ministry to the laity. 
Pastors of healthy, growing congregations have a whole new set of tasks. 
If these pastors are still expected to visit all who are sick, meet all who are hurting and needy, 
and go to every meeting, they will have no time to do what they should be doing.” 
Paul D. Borden
     My single greatest desire is to see First Presbyterian Church of Delray Beach become the church the Apostle Paul envisions in his letter to the church in Ephesus, the Book of Ephesians. Clearly, simply and succinctly, that vision is like a ball team; the game is played by the players, not the coaches. For the church, every member is a player; the hired staff is the coaches. That means that “ministry”, including the ministry of care to the sick and needy, is primarily done by church members. The staff stands on the sidelines and “coach”, in church language, recruit players, discover where their talent is, develop that talent and then send them onto the playing field.
     “Listen in” on the coaching that Greg Ogden once gave to the Elders of my former church, the Lenape Valley Presbyterian Church, New Britain, Pennsylvania in 2006, and then answer, “How are we doing?” Ogden tells the Elders that seven things must happen if we are to be like the church Paul speaks of in Ephesians.
  1. Set the expectation for the congregation that your pastor(s) is (are) primarily equippers for ministry, not just caretakers or administrators.
  2. Change the paradigm of how you make disciples from a programmatic to a relational approach.
  3. Refuse to make an unbiblical distinction between being a Christian and being a disciple.
  4. Be willing to call people to the high bar of discipleship.
  5. View the church as the central context in which disciples is made. A Christian is one who has God as their Father, and the Church as their Mother.
  6. Develop a public pathway of discipleship. Have an answer to the question: “If I wanted to become a mature disciple of Jesus Christ here, how would I propose that happens?” (Note: that is what my book, Faith Journey was written to do.)
  7. Model discipleship by being in a small, reproducing disciple-making community (small group).
      I once had someone share with me that they were in a very unhealthy place, physically, emotionally and spiritually. They sought advice from a doctor. After a few questions to the patient, the doctor responded, “It seems that you have neglected the basics of good health: a regular bed time and getting up at the same time each morning, exercise and a proper, healthy diet. Correct these things and then we will determine “what’s next.” Ogdenprovided the Elders of that church the basics of good health. How do you think we are doing here at First Presbyterian Church of Delray Beach?

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