Is the church a Club?

Looking around we see that some churches are run primarily for the benefit of its members. Such churches are often indistinguishable from a club, with membership ‘fees’, committees and rules.

But Jesus Christ came to this world for the benefit of every single human being and to point the way to God. The Church which bears his name should also exist to serve the community and encourage people to a knowledge of God, their creator.

The attributes of a club, and a Community Church

A ClubA Community Church
Exists for the benefit of its members.Exists for the benefit of the community.
Has a membership.Does not need a membership but does need a method to communicate with those who attend.
Exclusive. Can choose it’s own members.Inclusive. Open to anyone to attend and take part.
Governed by a set of rules.Has no rules.
Has a fixed membership charge.No fixed charge but all are encouraged to meet any running costs.
Can get rid of a member if it wants to.Rejects no-one.
Has a set purpose. For example to encourage a hobby or to sing together.Its purpose is to:
1. Encourage people to follow Jesus Christ.
2. To serve God by serving the community.
Needs a committee of some kind to enforce rules and decide who can be a member.
Needs a structure of some kind by those who are recognised as having spiritual maturity and authority. 
 Engages in activities which its members enjoy.Engages in activities which benefit the whole community. 


I realise that I am being a bit idealistic here but I want to open a discussion. Start by answering these questions.

  • Is your church more like a club than a expression of God’s life in this world?
  • What activities are there which benefit members but have no impact on the community?
  • What steps can we take to become an effective community church?

Author: George Dowdell

I was the founder of Karuna Action (formerly Kingscare) and was the director for 24 years. I have now handed control over to younger people but continue as an advisor and trustee. My passion is to see extreme poverty eliminated and to see justice for the powerless.

One thought on “Is the church a Club?”

  1. A good question George. However, I am finding that as I discover more of God that even your description of a community church is too restrictive to truly reflect the largeness of God and the universality of Christ. I am finding that the Body of Christ can be found all around and in unexpected places. It is a spirit dimension and all those within are joined by spirit.


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