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Unread 01-26-2018, 09:06 AM   #1
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Question Church Membership

As we shop around for a new church home, I've been contemplating this concept. The church we are currently attending is pretty awesome. But their approach to church membership is to make a covenant, which kind of freaks me out.

So this is an open request for thoughts on the overall concept of Church Membership in general - is it even a biblical concept? Or more of an organizational structure to keep tabs on who can vote in local decisions and for tax purposes?

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Unread 01-26-2018, 04:16 PM   #2
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As we shop around for a new church home, I've been contemplating this concept. The church we are currently attending is pretty awesome. But their approach to church membership is to make a covenant, which kind of freaks me out.

So this is an open request for thoughts on the overall concept of Church Membership in general - is it even a biblical concept? Or more of an organizational structure to keep tabs on who can vote in local decisions and for tax purposes?
I will gladly buy you "Church Membership" in the Nine Marks series of books. PM me your address?
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Unread 01-26-2018, 09:07 PM   #3
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I will gladly buy you "Church Membership" in the Nine Marks series of books. PM me your address?
I was going to suggest the same book. Totally changed my view on the significance of church membership.
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Unread 01-27-2018, 11:54 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by athanatos View Post
I will gladly buy you "Church Membership" in the Nine Marks series of books. PM me your address?
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Originally Posted by Mara View Post
I was going to suggest the same book. Totally changed my view on the significance of church membership.
I was not aware that such a book existed...

Is this it?

https://www.amazon.com/Church-Member...ership+9+marks
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Unread 01-27-2018, 12:21 PM   #5
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I've never heard of this book, either, but I may pick it up with such enthusiastic responses about it...
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Unread 02-08-2018, 03:58 PM   #6
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I just finished chapter 4, maybe half done with the book. what I'm looking for is the author to bridge that gap, Biblically, from THE CHURCH (the global body of Christ) and the Church (a local congregation). thus far, the author has made a lot of assumptions and leaps, but hasn't filled them in, Biblically. I'll need to read and re-read this small book a few times to fully absorb it.
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Unread 02-09-2018, 02:49 PM   #7
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I've read the book referenced here and also read Thom Rainer's I Am A Church Member. Both of those are very good.

Another one if you have time is Uncomfortable by Brett McCracken.

I don't think any of those address the covenant versus membership only, but I think you will glean a lot from them. McCracken's is one of the best that I have read in a long time on church membership. To be fair, he is very keen on the stick it out mindset, which in your case is not a good example.
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Unread 02-09-2018, 08:42 PM   #8
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I read Why I Love the Church, I believe by Cluck? Which was good. This one, thus far, hasn't addressed the concept of church membership and where the concept comes from - most notably, the jump from global Church to private Church. Again, I haven't read the whole book yet, perhaps the author will get there. I need a good grasp on this concept, as the concept of membership in general, and covenants in specific, seem stacked in favor of abusive pastors. I'm all for church discipline and submission. I'm not all for abusive pastors. Not sure where the line is, but thankful for the book recommendation and have determined to read the whole thing through.
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Unread 02-10-2018, 08:59 AM   #9
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I just finished chapter 4, maybe half done with the book. what I'm looking for is the author to bridge that gap, Biblically, from THE CHURCH (the global body of Christ) and the Church (a local congregation). thus far, the author has made a lot of assumptions and leaps, but hasn't filled them in, Biblically. I'll need to read and re-read this small book a few times to fully absorb it.
I think I know about the gaps you have in mind.

I think of it in terms, not of an air-tight argument, but rather like "what conforms best with the Biblical commands and descriptions?" Or even better, "What is the best explanation for this phenomena?"

For example, when the author talks about adding to their number as a formal membership. They were literally counting those who were considered "in" their movement, under the guidance and discipline of the apostles. This doesn't mean they had a written list of names (a church directory), but given the backdrop of genealogies it is possible. Since not long after the apostles formal membership was directly tied to baptism, it makes sense that the precedent was set during the apostles' time. This scene, for example, is an excellent example that probably set the entire precedent.

There's also a gap about Christians being commanded to obey the elders, and that having elders is a precondition for obedience. One might think "those commands only apply to those who have elders, but why think a Christian should have elders? Are people who don't have an elder really disobedient?" I think the case made is alright, but my standards are, again, that we're looking for the best model or what comports best with the Biblical account. For this, we don't need a perfect account; we just want to identify the best.

like, if there are four accounts of church life are on offer, one is 50% likely, one is 45%, another is 4% and the last is 1%. Sure, the call is tough between 50% and 45%, but even though 1% is possible it isn't really a contender. I think the "no explicit or even implied mandate for church membership" is like the 1%. Surely, it's possible, but that's a paltry defense when there are far better accounts for Scripture, tradition, and history.

Without you saying more about the gaps, I am gonna be relying on memory as I have above.
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Unread 02-10-2018, 09:09 AM   #10
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For whatever it is worth, I think the covenant community backdrop of the OT continues into the NT.

Like, all descendants of Abraham were to be circumcised and enter the covenant community. Being in the covenant community does not mean that you're 'saved'. I don't think the best explanation is that this general structure (covenants being made with a community; one can enter the community with a rite; entrance is not sufficient for salvation) was eliminated in the NT.

To argue for this, I think, would go outside of the depth of the book's intended audience.
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Last edited by athanatos; 02-11-2018 at 06:33 PM.
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