Saturday, May 24, 2008

Re-Thinking Church Membership (Part 23) - Member For A Day

In previous posts in this series I've made the point that the church is an assembly of the body, and those who assemble (i.e. baptized Christians) are therefore members. Some of the objections to this idea from those who advocate formal membership center on the idea that those who they wouldn't deem members, but I would, might have some influence on the way a church operates. A formal membership, then, to them, is a safeguard against unwanted "drop-by" type of influence.

What about voting privileges? What about selecting a pastor? What about involvement in a building program? What about serving in the choir or nursery? If people that just drop in or only attend occasionally voice their views on important matters, it would have a negative affect on our church.

I think a problem with these kind of objections is that they are based on the idea that the church is much more than an assembly of Christ's body. It is viewed also as a building, a bureaucratic institution, a certain form of government. I don't think this is what the New Testament had in mind. These are secondary issues that shouldn't take precedent over the core idea of church. These things are outside of the idea of assembly. They are traditions of men. Jesus warned of placing traditions of men on par or above the Word of God.

I've visited dozens of churches in my life. Each time, I have submitted to whatever liturgy was followed, whatever a leader asked of the assembly. I called upon the name of the Lord just like everybody else, prayed just like everybody else, sang just like everybody else, listened to the preaching just like everybody else. Many times I fellowshipped with others there, just like everybody else, and encouraged others (and received encouragement) just like everybody else. I was a member for a day.

Read parts 1-10 here, parts 11-20 here, and parts 21-30 here.

Part 22 . . . . . . . . Part 24


  1. Steve,

    So, my question is, are you a member of your church? I mean, in the formal sense...have you "joined" the church?


  2. Cathy,

    Yes, I'm a "formal" member of my church. I "joined" back when the formal membership was introduced (it didn't use to have one), but not before much wrangling with the issue. I'm still wrangling with it today. I might get into some of what went into it in future posts.