Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Re-Thinking Church Membership (Part 12)

Read entire series in one article here, or as a collection of all posts here.

This topic is very complex for me, as there are many interrelated points to consider. How to arrange them and order them is difficult, so I'll take this post to state some basics, to keep myself on track. This is for both me and anybody who might be reading.

My basic premise is that church membership is not something that man has to create, i.e. establish a "formal" church membership through a process where "regular attenders" can become "members." Church membership is an already existing reality for all believers since it is God who places us in Christ's body. Since "church" (ekklesia in the Greek) means "assembly," membership is realized through assembling, not through making a covenant with others, not by fulfilling a list of items created by church leaders, not by meeting man-made standards by a group of church people.

No covenant needs to be made with all others in the church because all relationships, duties, love and actions required of Christians are already part of the New Covenant in Christ's blood. There already is a covenant. Whenever church leaders or groups of people in churches create a list of requirements or standards by which Christians can become members, there are always standards or requirements not included in the bible. Because of this there will always be Christians who because of the way God created them or because of their obedience to God will fail to meet these standards, they will be wrongly treated by the churches as if they were sinning or deficient. Even if the only requirement is that one must become a formal member by doing something to get on the membership list, this requirement is in addition to what the bible requires.

I have a number of experiences with church memberships and how simply being faithful to God is viewed as falling short by those who hold to "formal" memberships. I have also talked with many other people and they have shared their experiences with formal church memberships as well. I hope to deal with some of these. I also hope to provide actual policies (many are ridiculous) on church memberships from looking at church constitutions, by-laws and statements of faith that are readily available on-line simply by going to church websites. There are even those out there who hold so strongly to a man-made formal membership that those who regularly attend a church and who appear to be obedient, faithful Christians in every respect are viewed as unsaved simply by their failure to become formal members.

I also hope to look at the authority of pastors/elders and their responsibilities before God, and compare what the bible has to say with what they think their responsibilities are and what they think God will judge them for on Judgment Day. Stay tuned, or maybe even set up your TiVo.

Part 11 . . . . . . . . Part 13

1 comment:

  1. My brother in law asked me this question after moving to a new city: Which church should I join?

    My answer:

    Evangelicals would say, join whichever church makes you feel good about yourself. Catholics would say, find the Catholic church closest to home, and join it.