The objective of this paper is to introduce a model to guide the analysis of the impact of churn in P2P networks. Using this model, a variety of node membership scenarios is created. These scenarios are used to capture and analyze the performance trends of Chord, a distributed hash table (DHT) based resource lookup protocol for Peer-to-peer overlay networks. The performance study focuses both on the performance of routing and content retrieval. This study also identifies the limitations of various churn-alleviating mechanisms, frequently proposed in the literature. The study highlights the importance of the content nature and access pattern on the performance of P2P, DHT-based overlay networks. The results show that the type of content being accessed and the way the content is accessed has a significant impact on the performance of P2P networks.