We always have a lot of visitors at our church. We also have several families moving in and out of our area on a regular basis. It’s just part of living in an urban center in North America in the 21st century. Lately we have had several families move into our area and approach us wanting to “place their membership” at our church. One family even brought a letter from their former church. Now that is “Old School.”

These newcomers want to know about our church. They also want to know what I, the Preaching Minister, believe and teach. If I were asked, here’s what I would I tell them about my view of church membership, transferring membership, choosing a new church, and the like.

We used to do all of our shopping at store “A.” We now go to store “B” because it offers more benefits to our family (lower prices, a McDonald’s and a bank in the lobby, an optometrist and a travel agent, etc.) The decision to switch was easy and there was nothing moral about it. It was a simple matter of convenience and common sense (economic consumerism—it’s what drives our culture).

Some people choose a church in a similar manner. There is no moral judgment involved—it is simply a matter of pragmatics. Which church has the most to offer me and my family? Surely no one would dare to challenge my freedom to choose churches? (This is still America, isn’t it?)

My intention is not to challenge anyone’s freedom; however, my concern is that we are falling (have fallen) into a cultural model of church. I am terrified that we are ignoring the clear picture presented to us in the New Testament of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.

The Church does not exist for the benefit of its members–that’s what Country Clubs are for. God did not call us out of darkness so that we could quietly assemble once a week and meet our spiritual needs (or even the spiritual needs of our family). He has not blessed us with riches beyond comprehension so that we can store them up and spend them on ourselves.

The church of Christ exists for the benefit of an imprisoned world. God has been trying to free His creation for a long time—that’s what the cross of Christ is all about. He calls us out of one type of slavery and enrolls us in another type in order to use us—each and every one of us—for His eternal purpose.

My advice to disciples searching for a “church home” in this modern era is this: Choose a church based upon Kingdom Values. Do the leaders of your church have a clear vision for and a specific understanding of how each member will be equipped for service in God’s Kingdom? When you “join a church,” demand that you be put to work. Refuse the role of spectator. Repudiate all forms of clergy/laity demarcation. In short, reject Christian Consumerism and embrace Authentic Christianity.