Friday, February 29, 2008

Re-Thinking Church Membership (Part 19)

Read the entire series of posts here.

One church I attended for about 8 months had what is known as "closed communion." This meant that only "formal" members, who had achieved formal, man-made membership status were allowed to participate in baptism or communion. Even though I was a convert to Christ and had all the visible outward signs of being a believer, this church wouldn't allow me to participate.

After my 8 months there, this church decided that it was time for somebody like me to pursue membership. They held an extremely high view of "membership." I had already been told that the church would make an excruciating examination of every detail of my life, which would last about 8 months, then after making a formal application to membership the congregation (members only) would vote on whether they thought I was Christian or spiritual enough to be allowed in. But, Jesus taught that Satan sowed tares among the wheat. Now, this church was going to allow tares in their midst to vote on who is wheat? Makes me wonder how much wheat is really there.

Anyway, one night at a prayer meeting I found out the reality of the whole thing. Two categories of prayer were always included, prayer for the unbelievers and prayer for the brethren. Well, this one night the church added a third category of people to pray for, the "unchurched." These were people who attended church every Sunday, were involved in everything, but had never committed to "formal membership." They were in a state of grave sin. So this group of people prayed fervently that night, including emotional pleas to God to right the sin of such people, fist pounding and all. How convenient it was that I was the only one there who fit such a category. They used a prayer meeting to preach to me about membership. The only thing they didn't mention was my name. Legalistic as the church was, this was the final straw. I left the church after that meeting, quietly and without telling anybody why. I was very dejected. Nobody even called to find out why I was no longer attending. I did receive one call from a friend about six months later.

Part 18 . . . . . . . . Part 20

1 comment:

  1. Remember, the true Church of Christ is a Church not made with hands.