BlogMembership Why Church Membership Matters Membership Why Church Membership Matters Author: Tatiana Morand July 31, 2020 Contents 🕑 8 min read Churches serve many different roles for people today. They’re a place of religious authority, a Sunday ritual, and a home for people to come and worship at. For many attendees, a huge part of the church is the community it provides – and having a solid church membership system set up only helps you make that feeling stronger. Having a formal process in place helps engage your community, encourage members to get involved, and gives them opportunities to try new things, like leading Bible studies or improving on a musical talent on the worship team. If you’re still debating setting up a church membership or have a more informal system in place at the moment, it’s time to get set up with a more formal procedure – and see all the ways it can benefit you! In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about church membership programs, including: Why now really is the best time to get a formal membership program set up How both church attendees and officials benefit from church memberships Potential membership requirements you may want to consider Let’s get started! Why It’s the Best Time to Get Your Church Membership Set Up Let’s face it – large gatherings, including church services, have looked pretty different for the last few months. They likely won’t go back to the “old normal” anytime soon. That’s why getting your church membership set up right now is so important – it’s a way to keep your community strong, even when you’re physically apart. Through a more formal membership program, you can share different gospel readings to the community, post different links to favorite worship songs on YouTube, or send emails to your community with Zoom links for your weekly virtual Sunday service. It will strengthen your community while you are apart and give people options to worship with you as restrictions are lessened and some people are hesitant to return to large gatherings. That’s why many churches, including the Church of the Redeemer, have chosen this option. By providing online services, they’re able to maintain a connection with their members and other attendees even when they can’t meet up in person. And by asking website visitors to sign up for their newsletter, they’re opening the door to building a deeper connection by educating subscribers about their events and opportunities to get further involved. Wondering if it’s the right time to start more online activities like this? Well, with most in-person events postponed, you also have the time to set aside now to set your church membership up right the first time. Take the time you would be spending to prepare for in-person sermons or masses to research software options that would help you manage your church membership plan and what you would want to include on it. Making the right choice now will make it easier for you to manage everything when you get back to in-person events, and can also help you generate more interest in virtual services — it’s a lot easier for members of your congregation to participate if they can find all the information in one place. Three Benefits of Formal Church Membership for Attendees Now that we touched on why this is the best time to get your church membership set up, let’s look at the fun stuff – the benefits! 1. Strengthen Your Community Feeling A church membership really helps your services grow beyond a community that meets weekly inside four walls. Having an online home for your church gives people a place to feel connected, no matter where they are. It also allows you to run more intimate groups more easily. For example, take a look at what Randallsville New Life Church is doing with their Connect Groups. Creating smaller spaces can help members connect on a deeper level than they could through services alone — and it’s a lot easier to reach out to people to attend if you already have a formal membership process set up. 2. Helps Members Feel Committed Committing to anything new can be a struggle – imagine how hard it may be for new members of your church to feel at home right from the first Sunday. It can be easy to drop off after a few weeks, but if they sign up for a church membership it can help them stay committed. Having a process in place also makes it easier for church officials to communicate directly with them (think about how far a personal email asking them how their experience has been so far would go) and encourage those direct conversations with new members. This will help new members feel more engaged and likely to stick around longer. (And for other member retention ideas, check out this post.) 3. Share Opportunities for Members to Get More Involved One of the wonderful things about churches is that there are so many ways for members to be involved. From volunteering with childcare, performing musically in worship, or serving as an usher throughout the service, there’s something for everybody – and having church memberships set up makes it even easier for members to get involved. They can go right onto your membership page, see what’s available, and get started! Wondering how you can share all your opportunities with your members? You could follow the example of the First Universalist Church of Essex, who shares all of the potential ways to get involved by including an event calendar on their website. This type of calendar could be publicly available on your site, or could be available to members only if there are some events you prefer to keep more intimate. Three Benefits of Formal Church Membership for Organizations We’ve covered the benefits of a church membership for your congregation — but what about for your church? Here are some of the main ways your administration can benefit from setting up a membership program. 1. Engage More Volunteers Remember how we talked about the benefits of sharing opportunities to be involved for church members? This is also a major benefit for church organizations! Recognize where you need volunteer support (maybe you’re running a bake sale to raise money for a mission trip or need support in leading online Bible studies) and share these opportunities to your members. It’s much more efficient than putting these opportunities on a bulletin board or announcements at the end of the service. You can also engage directly with volunteers through your membership program, making it easier for you to organize and track who is doing what. 2. Better Predict Attendance Being able to better predict attendance has positive applications for so many different aspects of the church! From large masses, youth groups, or Bible studies, you’ll always know exactly how many people to prepare for. On top of just being prepared with staff support or adequate amounts of food, tracking attendance is especially important right now as restrictions around COVID-19 change and numbers allowed for gatherings fluctuate. When you know exactly how many people are coming to each event, you can ensure you are staying within state restrictions. Set caps for events and have people sign up to help keep everybody safe! 3. Communicate Easily with Your Community Are you trying to let your congress know about a new virtual youth group program? Or maybe you’re reaching out to senior members of your parish to check in and see how they’re doing, or letting your community know about an upcoming event they can attend? This is all made easy with a church membership program. As people sign up, you can gather their information (like email address and phone number) and easily sort through it when you need to reach them. This allows you to share your events with them more easily, and build attendance. This live-stream sermon from the Sanctuary for Spiritual Living is a great example. Just check out all the comments and views they got! Even if members can’t be together in person, you can communicate and connect with them via the power of technology — something that’s a lot more difficult if you don’t have an easy way to reach them. Should You Have Church Membership Requirements? Now that you see all the benefits of a church membership for both church officials and members of your congregation, we’re sure you’re eager to get set up! At this point, though, you may be asking yourself if you need requirements for this membership. Short answer? It completely depends on your situation. Longer answer? Deciding on church membership requirements would be decided based on what they would be used for. For example, maybe your church requires that new members of the congregation attend a series of Bible study courses or have an interview with a pastor or other church authority. In this case, you would want these requirements to be outlined on the church membership forms. This way, new members know what they’re committing to when they get signed up. However, filling out a form or meeting certain requirements may not be a requirement for all churches – there’s no one golden rule across the board. You’ll have to look at what is truly best for your organization. For example, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, Naperville has events that are open to everyone, but requirements for members are slightly more stringent. But keep in mind, these different requirements don’t have to be just for joining. You can also use your membership requirements to help you filter out members who are great fits to lead different programs or be in positions of authority at your church. For example, you might not want members who have only been with you for a week to be leading small group Bible studies. Make that role only available for members who have been with you for a longer period of time, which you can easily track in a church membership program. You’ll also want to consider the fact that you likely won’t have every member of every service signed up as members (maybe people take a few visits to decide you’re the right fit!), but you may want to use membership software to track who members are and offer some member-only events, like speaking opportunities with church authorities or volunteer appreciation events. Does this seem too complicated? Just remember there are great software options that you can get – for an even better price! – that will take care of a lot of the heavy lifting. You can focus on building out what you want your church membership to include and provide to your congregation and leave the technical parts out. There are so many great benefits for everybody when you have an active church membership program set up – and it doesn’t have to be a technical headache to get started! With the right software and some time carved out to get set up properly, you can give your members the best church experience possible, no matter where they’re worshipping from right now. Does your church offer memberships? Let us know if there are any advantages we forgot to mention in the comments! 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