There is substantial anxiety by some leaders and ministers to see an increase in church members. This is very praiseworthy and commendable. But this same anxiety may lead to the use of means that may fail to accomplish the object sought or achieve it in such ways as not to justify the means.
Without dwelling upon the means referred to, we will briefly state the one way we think may prove the most productive, so far as permanent good results go. Aim to bring those who you wish to become members, first, to Christ. They may be brought into membership with the Church, rest, and finally, fail of heaven. But suppose they are brought to Jesus and find His pardoning love. In that case, from the indwelling of that love, they will more easily be persuaded to give themselves to His people. The tie which then binds them to the Church will be the same which binds them to Christ, the Head of the Church – love. In the other case, the tie may be feeling, respect to persons, or some further inferior and secondary consideration, which may be broken by impulse or a circumstance of a trivial kind. Aim to bring them to Jesus, and you show your concern for their highest happiness. You show your regard for the Divine glory. You show your own disinterestedness. You may, in this, touch in their hearts a feeling that is calling for sympathy. You may be the very one for whom they have been long waiting, the one to guide them to Him, whom their souls desire to love.
If you have succeeded in leading them to Jesus, you can now demonstrate to them as earnest a wish for them to continue with Him. Among the many means for this, fellowship with the disciples may be prominent. As they have come to Jesus, they become His disciple. They must not be reserved and isolated but allow the nature of discipleship to develop itself in friendly, brotherly, social feelings and words. They must publicly identify themselves with the disciples and not be ashamed to make it known that they have done so. And to enforce the use of this means, the usual considerations may be used, the word of God, the custom of disciples, the benefits to be received, etc.
Let the chief argument be: You have come to Jesus. You love Jesus. You have vowed your allegiance to Him. As a result of this, you have become His disciple. You rejoice in this as a high privilege. Now, show yourself His disciple. Live as such. Speak to your fellow disciples. Enter into the body, be a united member, and let this be a chief means of keeping you a disciple.
The Editor.Bate, John, ed. 1870. The Guide to Holiness and Class Leader’s Magazine. Vol. 1. London: Amos Osborne.