You can still read/visit but until you're a member, you're a guest! Basically becoming a member means that it's your church home. Your "go-to" church.
What becoming a member means to an individual spiritually and emotionally varies from person to person. I joined for the sense of belonging and making a commitment that it signified for me. Also, I love my church and take pride in being member.
The church you are attending probably has a visitor and/or new member coordinator who can answer your questions and explain more about what being a member means at that church. Don't feel like you "ought to" join before you are ready. I attended services about a year before joining.
At the church i am in now not being a member means I cannot take communion, get married, or anything. I may attend services but up until recent history people who were not member could not even attend the full service. they had to leave after the first half. And becoming a member is quite complicated. also my becoming a member does not infer membership on my children. they have to become members on their own (although we allow even infants to become members). However not being a member has not kept the church from accepting us and loving us and making us feel welcome and like family. becoming a member of this church is a big deal and there is no push on anyone to join until they feel ready. and there are perfectly good reasons for all of this . . . .
other churches I have been to becoming a member meant sayig "yeah i want to be a member" and that was it. it didn't confer any special benifits on you or antyhing.
it seems like one church (i used to gravitate towards churches that had a thing against membership in general) instituted membership for tax purposes.
My MIL church memebrship meant you could vote on church business and be on boards and church government. but you had to be baptized a certain way. which lead to people getting re-baptized so they could sit on a committee.
So anyway . . .different meanings from different churches.
The truest answer to violence is love. The truest answer to death is life. The only prevention for violence is for the heart to have no violence within it. We cannot prevent evil through any system devised by mankind. But we can grapple with evil and defeat it, but only with love—real love.
To me, it means that you're making a commitment to participate and help the community to thrive.
But non-members can do everything except vote. DH and I aren't members but we attend each week, have nametags that look like everyone elses, our older dd attends RE, we participate in events. And at our church non-members can teach RE classes, sing in the choir, sponsor or offer events, etc.
But being a member of one UU community doesn't mean you'll automatically be a member anywhere else...you'll need to visit the UU church where you move to and decide all over again if you want to be a member.
There is an expectation that members attend regularly and tithe and participate in ministry, but nobody goes around checking up on you or tosses you out if you don't do the above.
and remembering: little turtle 5/23/2006 and poppyseed 7/15/2009