For those of you still thinking about membership issues, there's a great piece in the Baptist Times (30 November issue) by Michael Thomas. How rare it is that 'great' and 'baptist times' appear in the same sentence.
But I recommend you get hold of it. I don't know whether it's available on line.
Mike's argument is that the current way we do things is broke and we need a radical overhaul. I don't know how many will go the whole way with him - I think I do. But I'm certain that his first principle is one that we must seek embody in our membership practices.
It is simply this: 'membership is not something for us to initiate, but to recognise'. In other words - if I read him aright - people come to our churches, join in, make relationships, find support and look for ways of serving alongside us and we recognise them as members.
Mike's key point about the New Testament emphasis being on relationships and not structures is absolutely spot on. 'Where people are relating to each other as brothers and sisters, there is membership,' he says.
And I say amen to that.