We've recently completed membership interviews with several people and I've asked some of them to talk about why they've become part of the Christ Church family. Here's Ben Sheppard's story:
Here’s what membership isn’t: it’s not a spiritual merit badge. It’s not a special card I get to carry around in my wallet. It’s not a sticker I put on my windshield to get in the gate; I don’t access special spiritual goods and services by virtue of being a member. “Membership” is the way I name my relationship with this church. Unlike being a member at Sam’s Club or the country club, this relationship is about investment. Being a member means that I have a responsibility to invest in this family, and that this family has a responsibility to invest in me.
“Invest” covers a lot more than just money. Because we share equally in the love of Jesus our King, we should give of ourselves to one another, following the command of Scripture (Romans 12:9-21) and the example of Jesus (John 13:31-35). We invest our love, time, attention, hospitality, talents, service, money and Spiritual gifts in each other because of the new life God has invested in us. We stake our personal future as individuals on our collective future as a church family. That can be scary, because A) I don’t know a lot of you and B) a lot of you don’t know me.
I guess I can work on part “B” here. I was born in Spain and lived all over growing up; I came to faith through the ministry of missionaries serving military communities in Italy and Japan. I didn’t set foot in Georgia until my family moved here before my junior year of high school. After graduation I went out of state and hopped around a few different schools. Ultimately I ended up living with my parents in the frozen wastelands of Germany.
When I had the opportunity to come back to the States to finish my degree, I decided to come back to Athens. I enrolled at UGA last fall and I’ve loved every minute since. Right now I’m working on one of those Useless Liberal Arts Degrees; the Plan is to attend seminary after I graduate. Meanwhile I’m working on another (hopeful) career track: I’ve written two full-length novels and am getting ready to start a third.
I became a member at Christ Community because I like what we do as a church (creating a family of missionaries learning to serve) and how we do it (worship, community groups, fight clubs). I joined a community group near my house, which led to a fight club with a couple guys from the group, which somehow led to me moving in with them next semester. That might not happen for you, but the point is that this church provides the spiritual and practical resources for living as a community of Christ-followers. I’m a member because this family needs what I have to give, and I need what this family has to give me.
(P.S. If I was wrong about the “special card” thing, someone please get me one ASAP).