Egmont Mika

More than Membership

Church membership doesn’t turn you into a disciple. 

We deceive ourselves when we think that membership has any long lasting spiritual significance. We can’t look to it as an indicator for our inner life or spiritual maturity, much less a guarantee for salvation. 

However, this is exactly what easily happens when we view ourselves and others within the subculture of our church or denomination. How do we, for example, assess the spiritual condition of our kids? Membership, attendance and a conformed behavior don’t really say so much. 

So how can we know better? The short and simple answer is, it needs to be discerned in the spirit.  

Our problem is that spiritual reality is not measurable the way we are used to measure things. The kernel of discipleship lies outside the institutional and cultural paradigm. Discipleship is not only more than membership, it is completely different. It belongs to the spiritual realm, and cannot be identified by surface criteria, like formal membership, jargon or conduct. 

Perhaps we know people whom we regard as disciples, but who are really not. On the other hand, we may meet someone whom we regard as not being a disciple, but this person actually is. Our spiritual perception is easily blurred, because we get lured by what we perceive with our natural senses. And we are easily impressed by what we consider “good fruit”, like a church’s growing membership and high weekly attendance.

“Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Sam 16,7)

Large numbers belong to these outward appearances. Counting people is a very human, yet, deceitful attempt to measure spiritual quality. The Lord has never been fond of it.

So let’s take all that for what it is and focus on what really matters spiritually. Let’s learn to discern surface appearance and true, genuine spiritual life. Let’s not be satisfied with making members, but…

Hmm… What did Jesus say?