What does it mean to be a member of Green Mountain United Methodist Church? What is (or should) be required of a person as a member of the church? These are questions that we each should consider over and over if we are to take seriously the vows we made when we first became members of the church.
In the United Methodist liturgy for Confirmation and Reaffirmation of Faith, we are asked, “As members of this congregation, will you faithfully participate in its ministries by your prayers, your presence, your gifts, and your service?” Some form of this question has been asked of new members for many years. The Methodist Hymnal published in the 1930’s asked, “Will you be loyal to The Methodist Church, and uphold it by your prayers, your presence, your gifts, and your service?” I imagine that each of us who claims to be a member of the United Methodist Church today at one time responded affirmatively to this question. The question for our current liturgy and that from the 1930’s indicates that membership is something active. As we state it today, membership requires “participation.”
I would suggest that participation requires that one be involved in the worshipping life of the community of faith, and this means gathering regularly with others in some form of worship. This may be the Sunday morning service, it may be the devotional time that is part of youth group, or it may be the devotional time with an Emmaus reunion group. Whatever form of worship in which one is participating, it should be regular. Presence in the community of faith also involves seeking to grow in one’s knowledge and understanding of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. In other words, to be United Methodists requires that we constantly involve ourselves in Christian education and spiritual formation. One does not arrive at a point in life in which there is no more to learn as a follower of Jesus. It is an ongoing process.
To be United Methodist means that we pray for the church. Again, this needs to be regular, which means that we should develop a practice of daily devotions. Bible reading and prayer are essential in strengthening the lives of those who seek to follow Jesus.
Membership also means that we participate in the ministry of funding the work of the church. Does that mean that everyone must give a tithe (10%) of their income to the church? I cannot answer that for you, but I can say that being a member of the church requires that we give of our financial resources to the church regularly.
And finally, membership requires that we be involved in service. For many this has meant being active in one or more of the various church committees. Yes, it takes some sort of administrative structure to “manage” the institution, but I would suggest that the service we are called to involves reaching out beyond the church building and into the community as we care for God’s children and creation in a hurt and hurting world.
So — are you a member of Green Mountain United Methodist Church in the ways expressed through our membership vows? If you haven’t been fulfilling all the vows, then I would encourage you to look carefully at how you might become active as a member of the church. If you aren’t already a member, I would invite you to come to the New Member Class and luncheon on Sunday, August 18th at 11:45 a.m., and then consider joining the church the following Sunday morning, August 25th.
May God strengthen us as we strive individually and together to live out the vows of membership.
Peace, salaam, paix, shalom, heiwa,