Membership and Discipleship
“How do you become a member as Salem?” That’s a question I am asked fairly often. It’s a good question that deserves a helpful answer.
First, while we love to receive new members (and we're receiving new members during worship in a couple weeks), I want to let you know that our mission isn’t to make new members but to make new disciples of Jesus. Our initial focus, therefore, is to connect with people and help them to first become and then grow more mature as followers of Jesus, who go on to live in a such a way that they participate in God’s mission to transform, to renew the world.
So you don’t need to become a member of Salem. That’s not our goal. And all are welcome to be a part of Salem regardless of membership. That means your baptism, wedding, or funeral can happen at Salem even if you’re not a member. We’re more concerned about your connection to and participation in the congregation. You can worship and serve and be a part of the church in every way except for two. You have to be a member to serve on the Leadership Board or to vote at a Church Conference (e.g. the annual meeting of the congregation). That’s it.
If, however, you do feel called to be a member, and again, we love to receive new members, that means that you’re ready to profess certain vows. Becoming a member means that you take responsibility for Salem with your prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness. These are the covenantal practices of members.
So what does that look like? Upholding the church with your prayers obviously means praying, but it also means opening yourself to and obeying the Lord, and that means participating regularly in some kind of a discipleship group (small group, Sunday school class, Bible study, accountability group).
Sharing your presence means being present regularly with the gathered body in worship unless prevented by illness or travel. It also means being present with brothers and sisters in Christ in smaller circumstances as well as being the presence of Christ to strangers in the world.
Upholding the church with your gifts means living a life of generosity, committing to regular, proportional giving to Salem and moving towards tithing (giving ten percent of your income).
Serving with Salem means participating each month both within the walls of the congregation and beyond the walls of the congregation in the local community and wider world. There are many ways to serve at Salem. Ultimately, though, we are called to transform the world. That means we have to move beyond the walls of the church building and serve in the world.
Being a witness means regularly inviting someone else to come to worship or a church event. It means building at least a few relationships outside the church just to share the love of Christ. It means being ready to share your faith story with others when appropriate.
For people connecting to Salem, we think it’s important to already be doing these things before you become a member. Our Discipleship Menu offers several ways to work on these things.
The reality is we’re all at different place on the journey with Jesus, and that’s good! So, if you’re not ready to be a member, don’t worry. That’s not our goal. We want to help you work on being a disciple of Jesus.
All of us are called to work on our discipleship, following Jesus. That means being part of the body of Christ, becoming more like Jesus, and joining Jesus in ministry (service). Interestingly, a good place to start is with the covenantal practices of your prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness.