Reasons to Start a New Members Orientation Class

Reasons to Start a New Members Orientation Class
P. R. Pauly

* Share the basic beliefs of the church.
* Share the discipleship ministry process.
* Explain why membership is important.
* Encourage involvement in church ministry

An orientation class for new and prospective members is to help them understand church membership. It will help them to discover their new identity in Christ and develop meaningful relationships. As they grow in their relationship with Christ, they will learn that they have a role in personal ministry through service in the church.

Rick Warren says, “The manner in which people join your church will determine their effectiveness as members for years to come … If little is required to join, very little can be expected from your members later on.” You must begin by clearly communicating the expectations of church membership. This orientation must define the disciple making ministry process of your church. The leadership of the church plays a major role in the information that is communicated.

The first step begins with developing a clear, easily explained, and communicated Purpose and Mission Statement:

If you already have these instruments and they are up to date use them. If not, then first identify the church’s mission by developing Purpose and Mission Statements. They both answer the question, “What are we supposed to be doing?” The Purpose and Mission Statements need to contain both the purpose of the church and a clearly defined disciple making ministry process.

* The Purpose Statement expresses the primary reason the church exists.
* The Mission Statement is a short to the point summary of the church’s statement of purpose.

The second step is to communicate these statements of purpose and mission to all the membership:

This can be done through a series of sermons supported by church-wide communication of the purpose and mission statements through the worship folder, newsletters, website, church signs, and other means of church communication. Get the word out about your purpose and mission.

The third step is to develop a membership class for all new members:

These classes are not always for new or prospective members. They should be made available for anyone who needs a greater understanding of church ministry and membership responsibilities.

Those who attend are introduced to:

Membership Expectations

Church Leadership must share clear expectations through a membership class:

* Share the basic beliefs of the church
* Share the disciple making expectations by explaining the purpose and mission statements
* Explain why membership is important
* Encourage involvement in a ministry that matches spiritual giftedness and passion
* Explain the importance of small group Bible Study Classes or Sunday School and encourage their involvement
* Explain why and how to support the church financially
* Explain how to participate in the Great Commission and spread the Good News to friends and relatives

The expectation part of the class lets those present know how they can become members of the church, and what is expected of members. This being communicated is essential to the various ministries of the church. Many of the inactive church members today state that they never heard what was expected of them. They just came to a point and stopped attending and no one missed them.

Intentional Relationships

New and prospective members are asking:

* Can I develop friends in this church?
* Where do I fit in?
* Am I needed?

We call that Assimilation…Assimilation is the process by which someone enters and finds meaningful relationships and purpose for ministry. Existing members must be taught and encouraged to take time to develop new friendships with new members. If a person cannot name at least six others as a friend in the first six months they are likely to drop out. Small groups or Sunday school must be one of the most important concerns of the church for its new members. Small Groups/Sunday School Involvement provides for:

* Relationships/Fellowship
* Accountability/Ministry
* Bible Study/Disciple making
* Ministry Opportunities
* Prayer/Personal needs

Understanding of what is going on in the church:

Ministry Involvement
* New Members should be asked to participate in some type of ministry within the first three months after they have joined the fellowship
* Every aspect of church life should point toward ministry involvement and getting people connected to life and mission of the church body

In the Membership Class discover:

* Where they have served before
* What they are good at doing
* What they like to do
* What is their interest or passion
* What is their willingness to serve

Provide list of ministry opportunities and ways to get involved: A Membership Class will help you Inform, Interact, and Involve

1. Inform

People look for a church that has a clear vision and a strong sense of mission. Their hesitancy to become involved often is overcome when a church has a clear, challenging, motivating mission. Communicating such things as the church’s history, vision, goals, beliefs, and worship style helps newcomers understand your church.

2. Interact

Relationship is the core of Christianity. Help participants build relationships with others in the class, within the congregation, and with Jesus Christ by creating an informal, warm, friendly atmosphere.

3. Involve

Each person should be expected to become involved in an appropriate ministry role or task. By informing people about the ministries of the church and helping them find a place, we increase the chances of their staying.


* The First Week of Their New Life download at
* Intentional Disciplemaking by Ron Bennett
* We Believe: Living in the Light of God’s Truth by James T. Draper, Jr.
* Foundations of the Faith: The Doctrines Baptists Believe by Roy Edgemon
* Spiritual Gifts: A Practical Guide to How God Works Through You by David Francis
* Taking the Next Step: A Guide for New Church Members by Ralph Hodge (Leader Guide and Members)
* The Baptist Faith & Message by Charles S. Kelly, Richard D. Land and Albert Mohler, Jr. (2008 Baptist Doctrine Study)
Note: You may view the The Baptist Faith and Message at and copy or you may order copies of The Baptist Faith & Message 2000 from LifeWay Christian Resources.
* The Growing Disciples Series by Claude King
* Ministry Gifts Inventory by Michael D. Miller
* Smart Faith by J. P. Moreland and Mark Matlock
* Basics For Baptists by Ernest E. Mosley and Betty Hassler
* Survival Kit: 5 Keys to Effective Spiritual Growth by Ralph Neighbour and Bill Latham
* The Baptist Way: Distinctives of a Baptist Church by Stan Norman
* Redefining Church Membership: From Myth to Ministry by John S. Powers
* The BodyLife Journey by John S. Powers
* Simple Life Action Plan by Thom S. Rainer and Art Rainer
* Tools for an Essential Church by Thom S. Rainer, Sam S. Rainer Ill, and Dan Garland
* Your Life and Your Church (Revised) by Dr. James L. Sullivan
* My Identity in Christ by C. Gene Wilkes

This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes ‘Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.’

This article “Reasons to Start a New Members Orientation Class” by P. R. Pauly was excerpted from: web site. October 2010. It may be used for study & research purposes only.