More and more we find people attending our church who for one reason or another don't become members of our church. Some are students who keep their records in their home church, some are members in another denomination and find it too painful to take their membership out of that denomination. For some — like the Chinese community in our church — membership means something totally different from what it means to us and they simply cannot say yes to membership. However, some of them have attended our church for a long time, and we are struggling with how to include them in voting and other matters of congregational life.
The church order gives descriptions of Baptized members, Professing members and Inactive members and Adherents. It is the last group that I am talking about — yes, they are in our church directory; yes, they participate in worship; yes, they participate in many other functions of the church. But when it comes to voting or leadership they cannot participate. Would it be possible to create something like a "covenant membership" with those who for one reason or another cannot become full member of our churches so that they can vote and be in leadership?