Much has been written on redefining the structure of mainline churches — but the one factor that is most critical to church renewal is the most neglected. That factor is how people join the church.
It is the integrity of the membership — and not the number of members — says Jan Linn, that determines the life and witness of the church. Linn challenges us to change the way we define church membership and to view it as a spiritual discipline with a commitment to spiritual growth and development. He introduces a new concept of membership, ‘covenant membership,’ in which the church and its members are bound together in a relationship of mutual support and responsibility.
Examining the pressures that have shaped membership philosophy and the effects it has had on the church, Linn demonstrates how covenant membership can create stronger congregations that are altar-centered rather than pew-centered.