I cannot overemphasize the importance of starting a good membership class. A membership class can be a place where relationships are developed, doctrine is taught, vision is shared, expectations are expounded, and the Gospel is presented. A membership class can play a key role in both assimilation and discipleship.
On his blog, Planting with Passion, Larry Baker discussed the importance of a Membership Class. He cited research conducted by Chuck Lawless where he discovered the crucial role a membership class plays in member retention and in jump-starting the discipleship process. Lawless’ findings indicated that the class should be taught by the senior pastor and should have an intentional focus on building relationships.
Baker discussed the important role a membership class can play in any church, but he stressed the value of the class in a new church start:
“Where can a church or new church plant begin in developing a discipling system for an existing church or a new church plant? I believe one effective way would be to begin a Membership Class. Membership classes can help a church or church plant to empower people including attenders, new members and long-standing members to serve in the church and to grow in spiritual maturity.”
Along with Larry Baker, I commend to you Chuck Lawless’ book, Membership Matters. In his book, Lawless said that every membership class should include the following five elements:
- The vision and mission of the church.
- The plan of salvation.
- The doctrine of the church.
- The expectations of those who become members.
- The importance of becoming involved in a small group and in a ministry.
One way many churches tackle the membership class challenge is to purchase Rick Warren’s C.L.A.S.S. materials and rewrite them to fit their church setting. Warren gives a church full permission to change the materials and all four classes, Membership 101, Maturity 201, Ministry 301, and Mission 401, can be purchased as a set or individually.
I will have much more to say about membership classes in the future, but along with Larry Baker, I challenge you to roll up your sleeves and start a membership class. Feel free to contact me if I can be of help.