Membership only asks you to do what the Bible asks all Christians to do.
The contemporary evangelical church in Canada doesn't have a good handle on church membership. For many it feels like a formality, or an optional way to "buy-in" to church decision making. Some struggle with it because they fear an abuse of authority.
At Lightway we're trying to make church membership meaningful and a normal part of being a Christian. One of the ways I try and help people get their minds around it is by saying: "Membership is your recognized commitment to do scripture's 'one-another' commands in this local church."
It's a recognized commitment. It's one thing to committ to a church yourself, it's a another thing to have others agree with you about your commitment. Without an agreement, without recognition, your committment only goes half-way. Membership is the recognition, agreement, and affirmation of your commitment. "We've got your back; you've got ours."
It's about doing scripture's "one anothers." Membership is only asking you to do in your local church what the Bible calls all Christians to do in their churches. Love one another, forgive one another, serve one another, correct one another, teach one another, submit to one another... the list goes on. We try not to add anything that scripture doesn't include.
Membership will feel strange for many at first. In Canada, we're used to self-shepherding and commitments of convenience (I'll do this, only until I feel like not doing it, I promise). But healthy church membership really is about agreement, commitment, and building a community of mutual accountability. It's not easy. But our unity tells the world there's something special about Christ: "...so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me" (John 17:23).