This is the fourth of a six part series discussing the role of church members. Previous parts can be found on our blog.

What does church membership mean?

In Baptism and at Affirmation of Baptism (Confirmation) we make the following promises: to live among God’s faithful people, to hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s supper, to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed, to serve all people, following the example of Jesus, and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth.

Just recently, I read an intriguing article. It spoke of what church membership means. And it made an important distinction. The distinction is that as church members, you serve a ministry of the church, you are not a volunteer. She then makes a comparison that has always bothered me. The comparison is that you parent your children, you don’t babysit them. I would get angry when people would see me in public with my kids and ask me if I was babysitting. My usual response, if I wasn’t feeling too snarky, was “No, they’re my kids, that means I’m parenting.” Volunteering is to babysitting as serving is to parenting.

As God’s people, who are members of Bethesda, we are called to serve in the various ministries within our congregation. And in our baptism we make the bold promise “to serve all people.” At times, this can be very challenging but God never promised that following and serving would be easy. We are going to try to be more intentional in our language. We’re not going to ask for volunteers anymore. Instead, we are going to invite people to serve a ministry. As the author of the article wrote, “But whatever we do, we should remember that we don’t just belong to the church–it belongs to us. And we do not babysit that which is ours.”- Pastor Steve