Counting Members OR Having Members Who Count

March 12, 2008 at 7:31 pm 1 comment

 My friend Rabbi Hayim Herring recently wrote a piece on the Co-STAR blog entitled “Real Leaders Are Not Loved By All.” Hayim reminds us that the final sentence of the book of Esther says,

For Mordecai the Jew ranked next to King Ahasuerus and was highly regarded by the Jews and popular with the multitude of his brethren; he sought the good of his people and interceded for the welfare of all his kindred.

It’s pretty clear that the Torah is inferring that while Mordecai was popular with some in the community, he wasn’t so with everyone. Hayim’s commentary reminded me of one of my favorite books. It’s a small book written for churches, entitled Rocking The Church Membership Boat: Counting Members OR Having Members Who Count.” Author Jan G. Linn posits that strong congregations are those who have a clear sense of who they are and attract congregants of a like mind.

These mission-focused congregations have requirements of members – and not just monetary ones. Members come into covenantal agreements with the congregation to be vital and viable members. This may include a certain number of service hours, teaching, committee and governance work. And if they don’t fulfill their end of the agreement, the congregation has the prerogative to ask them to leave. Can you imagine a synagogue asking a member to leave because they’d consistently failed to fulfill an agreement?! I can’t, and that’s an indication of part of our community’s problem. We’ve become ‘fee-for-service’ institutions that both cater to the whims of a select few and fail to be sensitive to the needs of the many. What would it mean if we stopped counting members and began creating kehillath kedoshim, sacred communities of members who count?

Entry filed under: Judaism, Synagogue Studies. Tags: , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Carah  |  March 14, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    Very interesting post… It made me wonder if I’m a member who counts.


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