What is Church Membership & Why is It So Important?

Church membership is an excellent way for congregants to get more involved with their church. It's also a great tool for churches to grow and sustain a healthy attendance at each and every service. But many churches don't have a membership program, and it can be tricky to know where to start! In this article, we'll walk you through everything you know about church memberships, including how to promote your very own church membership program.

8 minutes read
What is Church Membership & Why is It So Important?

Churches are seeing fewer attendees during their services. While many have hosted virtual services to reach a larger audience, churches must find ways to grow their community and church members.

One way to increase your church followers and grow your members is through church membership programs.

Joining a church membership program differs with each denomination, but each church must make it easy to learn more about becoming a member. This article will break down some of the benefits of church membership for individuals and the church. We will also discuss ways churches can encourage parishioners to become members.

What is Church Membership?

Church membership is nothing but a formal relationship between an individual and a local church congregation. The process of becoming a member of the church varies based on the Christian denomination.

Becoming a member of any church is a personal choice between the individual and God, but each denomination has different requirements for membership, as previously suggested.

To become a member of a church, people are expected to have a personal relationship with God and accept him as their savior. Once someone has taken that step, they can speak to the pastor or church leadership to discuss becoming a member of a church.

Most churches have training or a probationary period one must follow before membership. Regardless of the specific requirements of joining a denomination or church, a few similarities are true for each.

Online church memberships are growing because of the increased use of technology and the existence of online churches. Most churches would create an online membership campaign and form to run their membership campaigns and manage members. Donorbox Memberships makes this process a breeze with its simple-to-use membership form, unlimited membership tiers, the ability to embed this form in church websites, easy management of members and payments, and much more. Here’s an example – we love how they named each membership tier to make them more impactful!

what is church membership - example

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How Individuals Benefit from Your Church Membership

Church membership is a decision made by an individual and the church. Each side should do their due diligence and ensure they are comfortable with each other. It is also essential that both sides have the same expectations.

In 2022, about 46% of Americans were members of a church or synagogue. In 2000, that number was 70%. These church statistics are alarming and show a general decline in church attendance, too.

A common reason churches have difficulty finding new members is the confusion of what it means to be a church member. Most people do not see church membership as necessary anymore, but churches have the responsibility to educate individuals on the benefits of membership. Below are a few advantages people find with church membership.

1. Sense of community

Personal connections are vital to our health. High social relationships can lower rates of anxiety and depression, heighten self-esteem, and even increase longevity by 50%. Historically, churches have provided people with a sense of community and a feeling of acceptance. Deep friendships are made with others who have similar beliefs. These relationships can last for lifetimes and be crucial during rough times.

2. Personal growth

One surprise benefit to membership is personal growth. Becoming a church member takes persistence, honesty, and commitment. After becoming a member, these personality characteristics remain essential. Members are often expected to serve in leadership roles. These positions require members to care about the faith and future of others. People in these roles must have a desire to grow in these roles and as individuals.

Committing to anything is difficult, but members can become more comfortable with the church’s needs and expectations with a process in place. Other members of the church also provide a level of accountability that helps people remain committed.

3. Volunteer opportunities

Volunteering has a host of benefits. The chance to learn new skills, meet new people, and make a difference in others’ lives are only a few. Volunteering at a church may include teaching children in Sunday school or joining a Welcome Committee. No matter what they do, each volunteer is a necessary part of the church. Individuals find immeasurable pride in these activities.

4. Fun and meaningful events

A big part of being a member of a community is the chance to socialize with others. Many churches have large and small events for their church members. These church events can be fun and meaningful. They can also offer chances to form friendships, build professional relationships, and strengthen connections with God.

Pro tip: Make it clear on your membership campaign page how people will benefit from your church membership. As you create an online membership campaign on Donorbox, you get the option to customize the page to include details of your campaign, images, and videos. Leverage this feature to add the benefits for each membership tier. This improves transparency and boosts the chances of people signing up for your membership campaign.

Why Church Memberships Matters to Churches

Members are not the only ones who gain from this relationship. Churches need a strong membership for several reasons.

1. More volunteers

Running a church requires committed and motivated people. Finding volunteers who are willing to show up weekly and serve in unpaid positions is not always easy, especially if you want them to stick around long-term. Church members are an excellent source for finding quality volunteers.

2. A better predictor of attendance

Most churches require a certain level of attendance from their members. Members are also more inclined to attend services for their own reasons. Strong membership in a church can assure leadership that their pews will not be empty on Sunday morning.

3. Deeper connection

Another way churches can benefit from having a robust membership program is with the various communication options with members. People who join a church membership program will often connect with church leaders more personally.

This connection offers the chance for the church to communicate with them by phone, email, social media, and even face-to-face. Such a strong connection will ensure that inspired members will invite their friends and family to the church on Sundays or special events. They might even encourage them to become members of your church, too!

4. Easier to ask for donations

Each of the earlier benefits makes it easier for churches to ask members for donations. As relationships grow with members, it is easier to know where their interests and passions lie.

As church leaders learn more about members, they can share more information on how they impact these areas. Churches can also use their knowledge of these members to establish the best ways to collect donations. More churches have begun to realize the importance of offering online giving and text-to-give options.

Along with letting you create membership campaigns through Donorbox Memberships, Donorbox also offers features like recurring donation forms, fundraising pages, crowdfunding, text-to-give, peer-to-peer, event ticketing, donor management tools, and more to help you elevate your fundraising efforts.

This short video explains more about how Donorbox has already helped thousands of churches around the globe –

How Can You Encourage Church Membership?

As we have discussed, church membership has innumerable benefits for individuals and the church. The issue remains that people do not fully understand why membership in a church is important. There are ways to change this opinion and encourage more membership.

1. Make people feel welcome

The first step to turning attendees into members is to make them feel welcome. While services have always offered people the chance to meet other members and church leaders, the inclusion of virtual church means much of the original face-to-face communication is lost. Even in-person services may allow a few new attendees to slip through the cracks.

One way a church can welcome new attendees and encourage deeper involvement is with a welcome committee. Church leadership and volunteers should be trained to connect with people who attend online and in person and educate them on the options their church has to offer.

Another heartwarming way to welcome church members would be with a welcome letter or email. Let your new members know how valuable they are to your church. On Donorbox, you can easily find new members and their payment information, segment your supporters based on church membership campaigns and tiers, and much more. This helps you personalize your letters and other communication pieces.

Donorbox Member Management - church membership

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2. Explain membership and the benefits

Part of the education the welcome committee can offer is about membership in the church. What is a member? What volunteer opportunities do members have that others do not? How does someone benefit from membership? Finally, how does someone become a member of the church?

Church leaders must create a well-defined membership program that includes the benefits and steps to the membership so everyone remains on the same page. This becomes easy with an online membership campaign page. As we mentioned earlier, Donorbox Memberships lets you customize your campaign page with membership details, so you can add benefits as per membership tiers as well as other information.

3. Promote it in various ways

Your church membership program may be detailed and easy to understand, but if no one can find this information, there is little chance you will see an increase in members. Churches can no longer stick with only the old ways of promoting membership within the church.

More people attend services online or simply spend less time in the church before and after Sunday service. Due to this, a look at new ways to communicate about the membership is essential. Here are a few ways churches can do this:

3.1 Website

Church websites should include a separate page detailing the benefits of membership for people and the church. This page should also include ways to become a member of the church and who people can contact to begin the process. You can easily embed the Donorbox membership form (with a copy-paste code) on your website membership page. This helps people stay on the website and not navigate away.

3.2 Social media

Many churches have started to use social media to spread the news about their services or community events. Some are even finding ways to collect donations through crowdfunding or peer-to-peer campaigns.

Social media can also be an excellent place to spread the word about a church’s membership program. Personal stories from current members and examples of membership benefits may encourage more to check it out. Add your church membership campaign page link to your social media posts and accounts, and promote them with inspiring images and videos for more signups.

3.3 QR codes

Posting QR codes around your church is a great way to connect those in your church with more information about your church memberships. This allows people to quickly access information with just a scan of their smartphone.

Learn more about how churches can use QR codes in this blog, which includes a step-by-step guide to locating and downloading your free QR code for every Donorbox campaign.

4. Make it easy to sign up

Those who learn about church membership on a website or through social media will likely want to sign up online as well. Churches that do not offer this option will miss out on would-be members who are looking for an easy way to join. Donorbox provides an easy-to-use online membership form. You can embed it on your website or use the Donorbox membership page. Churches can add unlimited membership tiers to this form. It is also possible to allow members to sign up with a custom donation amount, which welcomes members of all abilities.

This example makes it easy for potential members to sign up. All they have to do is select the membership amount, click next to add their contact information, and then make the payment to complete their membership signup. It’s a simple three-step process that’s quick and will encourage more signups!

Church membership form on Donorbox.


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5. Ask for feedback

As churches begin to make changes to their membership programs, they must look to current and new members for feedback. People’s opinions on the importance of membership and how easy they found the system will significantly benefit the church. On Donorbox, you can easily add any communication notes to the supporter profile. This makes it easy for all at your church to track member feedback.

By including these opinions in the decision-making process, your membership will have a greater response rate when it comes to new sign-ups and long-term membership.

Final Thoughts

There are few other more important things to a church than its members. Individuals and churches both benefit from a transparent membership program. Churches that make people feel welcome from the start, clearly lay out the importance of being a member, and make it easy to learn more and sign up will quickly see results from their efforts.

Online membership and donation forms help churches encourage membership and donations from all church attendees, regardless of whether they attend services in person or online.

As you explore ways to start church membership, possible benefits, and tools, don’t forget to consider using Donorbox Memberships! It’s free to start and there are no contracts. You can also explore other Donorbox features such as recurring donations, peer-to-peer, crowdfunding, fundraising pages, event ticketing, and more on our website.

Want more resources on membership programs or church fundraising? Check out our Nonprofit Blog. Subscribe to our newsletter to receive the best resources in your inbox every month.

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Kristine Ensor is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience working with local and international nonprofits. As a nonprofit professional she has specialized in fundraising, marketing, event planning, volunteer management, and board development.

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