Of course, this word, membership is a word churches use, not because the Lions Club uses it, but , because Paul uses it.
But, even a quick reading of I Corinthians where Paul invokes this word over and over, helps us realize that Paul has something very different in mind when he speaks of membership. The word 'member' in the Greek is melos, which means a part of the body. The KJV Bible tranlates melos member meaning a member of the body. "We are the body of Christ, and each one of you are a member". Paul's meaning here isn't organizational. It's organic. The Body of Christ is alive in the world, it's kicking, breathing, seeing and feeling. Christ is alive in this world and each of the redeemed are a part of that body. . .a member. So, the word member means 'part'.
When we speak of member-ship, we essentially are speaking of a partnership. If each of us are part of Christ's Body. And, each of the parts come together to form a unit. The parts become a partnership.
I wonder why we don't speak today more about Church partnerships than membership. Paul's language was intented to be living, robust, organic. Cultural understanding of the word membership today is institutional and lifeless. I think Church partnership breathes life back into a dying theology. I think church partnership puts loyalty, love, commitment back into our covenant