An Update on the Membership Process from Craig
It’s a question we get often: “What do I need to do to be a member?”
In the past, when our Sunday morning attendance was larger, but the amount of people involved in the life of the church much smaller, the answer was simple: “Well, just come hang out with us for a bit. Share life with those you see hanging around here and that’ll make you a ‘member.’”
Slowly, though, as those ratios began to change (fewer people in worship on Sunday mornings, more people involved in “everything else,”) the question of what constituted belonging became more complicated. There were far more people “hanging around here” than ever before. And that also begged the question of what “sharing life,” (which became as buzzed a word as “community,”) meant, and how one went about “sharing life” with “those who hang around here.”
2011 came and through a series of important conversations we decided we wanted to be more than a church that housed spiritual refugees who do “hanging around here” quite well. Though we knew we would continue to be such a place, we wanted spiritual refugees to find in us a place to call home and to practice citizenship in the Kingdom of God being lived out here in Waco, TX. The best way to communicate this was through the ancient, oft-misunderstood but ever-relevant word: Discipleship. This movement toward a more intentional practice of discipleship led us in 2013 to re-tool our mission statement—
UBC seeks to form a community of people in the way of Christ that embraces beauty and lives missionally.
It was never our intention during these conversations over the years to make membership the “next step” in our journey as a community. We didn’t sit down in 2011 and say “Alright, first we will stop being a ‘college church,’ then we will start talking about discipleship and beauty and living missionally, adopt bylaws and then in 2013 we’ll change our structure and mission statement and then, finally, institute a membership policy as a bow on top of the package.”
But the subject kept coming up. Usually in passing, sometimes with deliberate intent, in all these conversations “membership,” and our lack of any real definition of what that may mean for UBC, always seemed to be peeking its head around the corner. Eventually we decided it was something we should tend to. So we created a team, led by myself, to pray about and explore healthy ways to move forward with what I have deemed a “codified system of belonging” at UBC.
We have met several times already this semester assessing the need and looking at models of church membership. We have been sorting through things that are not consistent with our ethos and things that fit perfectly within it. We are consulting with other churches and trying to be creative. Above all, we are keeping our mission in front of us, to form a community of people in the way of Christ that embraces beauty and lives missionally. Our goal is to have something to the leadership team by their meeting in April to look over and approve (or disapprove.)
What we have all discovered in our meetings is that this adventure we are embarking on is a bigger deal than we first envisioned. It is both more exciting and scarier than we first thought. And if this is the case for us, we imagine it will be the case for you as well. With this in mind, I’d like to offer observation about our work up to this point by telling you a couple of things that membership at UBC will probably NOT look like, and a couple of things that it WILL look like.
- Rules to follow, “or else…” Most of the current writing and theological thinking around church membership tends to be by fundamentalists and those who have a vested interest in exercising some semblance of power and control over congregations. If you’ve been around UBC any amount of time, you know this is not in our DNA and, frankly, wouldn’t “fly” if we wanted it to. (Which we don’t.) We are, however, interested in encouraging practices and rhythms of life that help us all become the people God most wants us to be.
- A weekly opportunity to “join…” Many of us grew up in church traditions where the opportunities to join, or to become a member, were plentiful. You could basically “join” whenever you wanted to join. The flip side of this is that you could also leave whenever you wanted to leave. There was really no encouragement to spend time in discernment about whether this church was the place we needed to be or not.
- Costly… We are not planning to start a commune or a cult that manages the daily affairs of its people from above and keeps constant tabs on how members are contributing to the life of the church. (Waco has had enough of those.) But we do recognize that life in community, ANY community, whether it be a family, a country or a friend group, requires something of us for it to be meaningful and transformative.
- Counter-Cultural... (Alliteration unintentional.) We live in an over-involved but under-committed culture. Many of us give a little of ourselves to a million different organizations and groups, but not much of ourselves to any one of them. If we do, it’s likely that it isn’t to the one entity that God placed on the earth to be his body—the church. Again, we aren’t concerned with demanding absolute allegiance to UBC or being enablers to “church rats,” people who sign up for every opportunity the church offers. (This would actually be antithetical to the “lives missionally” part of our mission.) But part of living in Christian community, as opposed to being a member of the Rotary Club or Sam’s Club or a Greek organization, is that the church becomes (at the very least) one of our most life-defining associations. This is not the world we live in, but we believe it is the world God has called us to.
It’s likely that once we create a system of membership, you may see very little change. We visited last week with Gideon Tsang, who was the interim teaching pastor between the death of Kyle Lake and the hiring of Josh Carney, whose church instituted a system of membership several years ago. He showed us all the materials they use and the processes by which one becomes a member at Vox. But in the middle, he stopped and said that all of this is stuff that Vox was already doing, but had no way of formally moving into. I imagine this will be the same for many of us. A large number of you will “move into” something you’ve already been living into for quite some time. For all of us, hopefully, it will be an exciting opportunity to join with the people of God for the purposes of being formed in the way of Christ, embracing beauty, and living missionally.
Below are the names of the folks on our membership team. Please spend the next few weeks in prayer for each of them as we do this important work. And feel free to contact any of us with questions, concerns or contributions you may have to this process.
Meet The Finance Team
Meet Josh McCormick
Family: Jessica and I met at Baylor a very very long time ago and dated through college. We’ve now been married for 10 years and have two sons, Jake (5) and Drew (3). We have a good time!
Vocation/Job/What I do: I am the Commercial Sales Manager for the Dwyer Group Franchise System. My job is to recruit, train, and manage the commercial sales force for 150+ Mr. Electric locations across the U.S. and Canada. It is more interesting than it sounds (has said no one ever).
Favorite Movie: Shawshank Redemption or Joe Dirt, I like it when the good guys eventually win
Best Restaurant in Waco: Baris is so good.
Chapter from the Bible that is meaningful to me: Exodus 20 (ten commandments)
Best Television Show: Game of Thrones … new season April 6th!
Favorite Holiday: Memorial Day Weekend.
Something you might not know about me: I am an introvert, which seems to surprise a lot of people.
Hobbies: I’ll have to find one someday. For now, family, kids and Baylor Soccer.
Lenten Ecumenical Services: For the Love of the City
I have been working with some downtown churches to put together a series of noontime Lenten services for the larger Waco community. They will be held at Turner’s on Austin Ave (723 Austin Ave) from 12:00-1:00 for four consecutive Wednesdays. There will be food trucks stationed outside if you need eat. The services will be about 20 minutes. Would love to see you there.
Wednesday March 19th
Wednesday March 26th
Wednesday April 2nd
Wednesday April 9th
Fat Tuesday Family Pancake Dinner
Hey families. This Tuesday we will be having a Fat Tuesday pancake dinner @5:30. It’s a time set aside to hang out and fellowship in the Lord. If you are interested in coming please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Ash Wednesday Service
Will be held in the backside this Wednesday at 6:30. Please join as we begin our journey towards Good Friday.
Work Is Worship
Coffee Makers: Jen Hinshaw & Claire Cole
Coffee Clean Up:
Greeters: Sarah Picken & Leigh Curl
- Sunday Sermon Text: Galatians 5:22-3
- John Sunday School: John 9
- Christians in the Headlines: Cancelled this week
- Psalms of Ascent Sunday School: 125 & 126
- If you feel like the music is at times too loud, we have earplugs available next to the mints out front.
- Michelle has started a lost and found. If you are missing an item please check in the box under the bench in her office.
Do you have an Emergency? Do you Need to talk to a Pastor?
254 366 9779
If you have a concern or an idea for UBC that you’d like to share with someone that is not on staff, feel free to contact one of our leadership team members.
Chair: Jana Parker email@example.com
Kristin Dodson firstname.lastname@example.org
Kaley Eggers email@example.com
David Wilhite firstname.lastname@example.org
Austin Tiffany Austin_Tiffany@baylor.edu
Byron Roldan Byron_Roldan@baylor.edu
Teri Walter email@example.com