One of the things I fail to understand in church growing up is why do church membership classes need to be so ungodly long? Being a pastor I see how many do it and though some are great...there is still a large constituency that makes it a long drawn out process. I have made a couple observations about why a membership program is drawn out.
1. CONTROL: The board/pastor wants to take these people who simply want to be a part and conform them to look like everyone else at the church. This is when all of the do's and don'ts come into play. Typically a three to six week class is held ultimately with a test at the end and an interview by the board. This is when people freak out about "going before the board."
2. Early Saturday morning meetings will mean only those serious will attend. This statement is as ignorant as 6:00 a.m. prayer meetings and early Saturday morning men's ministry meetings. To think those that come to these meetings are serious is wrong. How about something a little more laid back and casual. The only logical reason I can think of having early Saturday morning membership class is that the people are not awake yet and the church can sneak ideals and legalistic things in. Just sayin.
Personally I think "membership" is a joke. I recall growing up in the church and when I hit 18 I had to take a membership class. Guess what? I didn't. In many churches the word "membership" only means you will get mean letters from the pastor when you are not tithing...or...when a building campaign begins and they want your money.
At Radiant Fellowship we use the word "Partner". This word immediately removes any hierarchy and puts all of us on the same level. Our partnership classes are only one and a half hours long and at the end if you are in and want to be a part...simply sign the paper and we look forward to what unique personality you add to our church family. Nothing like making church simple again.