Is church membership biblical?

Troy
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Is church membership biblical?

Post by Troy » Wed Aug 31, 2011 2:17 pm

http://theresurgence.com/2011/07/06/is- ... p-biblical

“The spouse of Christ cannot be adulterous; she is uncorrupted and pure. She knows one home; she guards with chaste modesty the sanctity of one couch. She keeps us for God. She appoints the sons whom she has born for the kingdom. Whoever is separated from the Church and is joined to an adulteress, is separated from the promises of the Church; nor can he who forsakes the Church of Christ attain to the rewards of Christ. He is a stranger; he is profane; he is an enemy. He can no longer have God for his Father, who has not the Church for his mother.” — Cyprian, Treatise on the Unity of the Church, 6.


Some Background

I was 28 when I became the pastor of Highland Village First Baptist Church (now known as The Village Church). I had had a rough go early on in my church experience, and at that time I was not fully out of my “disenchanted with the local church” phase.

In all honesty, I wasn’t sure at the time that church membership was biblical. Despite that, the Spirit had made it all too clear that I was going to be pastoring this small church in the suburbs of Dallas. That was one of the many ironies of my life in those days.

Highland Village First Baptist Church was a “seeker-sensitive” church in the Willow Creek mold and had no formal membership process, although they were actively working on one and wanted the new pastor’s input. I had a strong understanding of the church universal but wasn’t well versed—and, as I said, somewhat skeptical—about the church local. We started growing quickly with young and oftentimes disenchanted 20-somethings who usually had no church background, or bad church backgrounds. They liked The Village because we were “different.” This always struck me as strange because we weren’t doing anything but preaching and singing.

“If there is no understanding of local church membership, then who are we to submit to and obey?”

In conversations with these men and women I began to hear things like “The church is corrupt; it’s just about money and a pastor’s ego,” or “I love Jesus, it’s the church I have a problem with.” My favorite one was, “When you organize the church it loses its power.” Although something occasionally resonated in me with these comments (I, along with most of my generation, have authority and commitment issues), I found them confusing since they were being made to me by people who were attending the church where I was the pastor.


Two Questions from Hebrews 13:17

With conflicts already brewing over other doctrines that I viewed as far more central, I wondered if we should let this church membership thing slide and come back to it later. I was preparing at the time to preach through the book of Hebrews and “happened” to be in chapter 13 when verse 17 leapt off the page: “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”

Two questions occurred to me:

* First, if there is no biblical requirement to belong a local church, then which leaders should an individual Christian obey and submit to?
* Second, and more personally, who will I as a pastor give an account for?

These two questions started my search for a biblical understanding of the local church, and they began around the ideas of authority and submission.

Regarding the first question, the Scriptures clearly command Christians to submit to and honor an elder body (Heb. 13:17, 1 Tim. 5:17). If there is no understanding of local church membership, then who are we to submit to and obey? Is it anyone with the title “elder” from any church? Should you as a Christian obey and submit to those loons at Westboro Baptist? In order to obey Scripture, must you picket soldiers’ funerals, as the pastor of Westboro seems to imply?

Regarding the second question, the Scriptures clearly command an elder body to care for specific people (1 Pet. 5:1-5; also, Acts 20:29-30). Will I as a pastor be held accountable for all the Christians in the Dallas Metroplex? There are many churches in Dallas that I have strong theological and philosophical differences with. Will I give account for what they teach in their small group, how they spend their money, and what they do concerning international missions?


What about Church Discipline?

After considering questions of authority and submission, the second issue that came up in my study of the local church was the biblical teaching on church discipline.

You see it in several places, but none so clearly as 1 Corinthians 5:1-12. In this text Paul confronts the church in Corinth for approving of a man walking in blatant, unrepentant sexual immorality. The Corinthians are celebrating this as God’s grace, but Paul warns them that this type of wickedness shouldn’t make them boast, but rather mourn. He calls them arrogant and tells them to remove this man for the destruction of his flesh and the hopeful salvation of his soul. In verses 11-12, he pulls no punches: “But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?”

“Church discipline won’t work if local church membership doesn’t exist.”

It has been my sad experience that very few churches still practice church discipline, but that’s another article for another day. My question out of this text is simple: How can you kick someone “out” if there isn’t an “in”? If there is no local commitment to a covenant community of faith, then how do you remove someone from that community of faith? Church discipline won’t work if local church membership doesn’t exist.


Lots of Other Evidence for Membership

There are other evidences to support local church membership in the Scriptures.

* In Acts 2:37-47, we see that there is a numerical record of those who have professed Christ and been filled with the Holy Spirit (v. 41) and an acknowledgment that the church was tracking the growth (v. 47).
* In Acts 6:1-6, we see elections take place in order to address a specific problem and accusation.
* In Romans 16:1-16, we see what appears to be an awareness of who is a church member.

In 1 Timothy 5:3-16, we see a clear teaching on how to handle widows in the church and in verses 9-13 we read this:

Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband, and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work. But refuse to enroll younger widows, for when their passions draw them away from Christ, they desire to marry and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith. Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not.

In this text we see criteria for who would or would not qualify for Ephesus’s widow care program. The local church in Ephesus is organized, and they are working out a plan.

We could go on and on here, asking questions about how we could be obedient to the commands of God in 1 Corinthians 12 or Romans 12 if we aren’t connected to a local covenant community of faith. But to unpack all the possible texts would require longer than I have for this article.

“When church is just a place you attend without ever joining, like an ecclesiological buffet, you just might consider whether you’re always leaving whenever your heart begins to be exposed by the Spirit, and the real work is beginning to happen.”


God's Plan is That We Would Belong to Local Churches

When you begin to look at these texts it becomes clear that God’s plan for his church is that we would belong to a local covenant community of faith. This is for our own protection and maturation, and for the good of others.

If you view church as some sort of ecclesiological buffet, then you severely limit the likelihood of your growing into maturity. Growth into godliness can hurt. For instance, as I interact with others in my own local body, my own slothfulness in zeal is exposed, as is my lack of patience, my prayerlessness, and my hesitancy to associate with the lowly (Rom. 12:11-16). Yet this interaction also gives me the opportunity to be lovingly confronted by brothers and sisters who are in the trenches with me, as well as a safe place to confess and repent. But when church is just a place you attend without ever joining, like an ecclesiological buffet, you just might consider whether you’re always leaving whenever your heart begins to be exposed by the Spirit, and the real work is beginning to happen.

What’s the bottom line? Local church membership is a question of biblical obedience, not personal preference.

Troy
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Re: Is church membership biblical?

Post by Troy » Wed Aug 31, 2011 2:21 pm

Just hoping to start a good, healthy, practical discussion!

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RICHinCHRIST
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Re: Is church membership biblical?

Post by RICHinCHRIST » Wed Aug 31, 2011 4:59 pm

Hi Troy,

[[[EDIT: just realized that you did not post this, but that it was matt chandler on the link you shared. I should have looked at it first. consider that as you read my response]]]

I have been considering this topic since I am currently attending a church which presses church membership quite adamantly. I am not convinced yet that it is biblical. Sorry if this is a long reply, but you brought up a lot of points.
Troy wrote:“The spouse of Christ cannot be adulterous; she is uncorrupted and pure. She knows one home; she guards with chaste modesty the sanctity of one couch. She keeps us for God. She appoints the sons whom she has born for the kingdom. Whoever is separated from the Church and is joined to an adulteress, is separated from the promises of the Church; nor can he who forsakes the Church of Christ attain to the rewards of Christ. He is a stranger; he is profane; he is an enemy. He can no longer have God for his Father, who has not the Church for his mother.” — Cyprian, Treatise on the Unity of the Church, 6.
I think all Christians, even those who do not believe in 'official church membership' would agree with most of this statement. This quote says nothing about a local church, but about the universal Church of Christ. And remember, the Church is not our "mother", but we are the Church itself corporately. We are part of it, not a product of it. Yes, perhaps members of the Body influenced our decision to come to Christ, but surely an "institutional" church is not always the cause of everyone's conversion, like my own, for example.
Troy wrote:“If there is no understanding of local church membership, then who are we to submit to and obey?”
Paul said we are to submit to every Christian, not just a specific group of Christians or a specific group of leaders who hold a specific office in a church building (Eph 5:21).

Troy wrote:Two Questions from Hebrews 13:17 --I was preparing at the time to preach through the book of Hebrews and “happened” to be in chapter 13 when verse 17 leapt off the page: “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”

Two questions occurred to me:

* First, if there is no biblical requirement to belong a local church, then which leaders should an individual Christian obey and submit to?
* Second, and more personally, who will I as a pastor give an account for?
For your first question, I believe that any leader (or non-leader, for that matter) who speaks the word of God to a Christian, it is that person whom they should submit to. We cannot take verse 17 without verse 7 (Heb 13:7). It is only those who speak the word of God that we should obey. If they speak contrary to the word of God, even if you have attended their specific assembly for 20 years, should you still obey them? Even if I primarily attend 3 different assemblies in my locale (which I do), I obey every person who speaks the word of God to me. If all the leaders speak something of conviction to my heart, and it is in accordance with the Bible, I will obey each one of them. On a side note, my dad rebuked me yesterday for something and I felt it was a word of prophecy. It agreed with something I later read in the Scriptures and after searching my heart I found that he was correctly assessing a sin in my life. I quickly thanked God for this prophecy, repented, and continued on following Jesus. It has been a while since a pastor has spoken that clearly to me, and this situation was not even in a church meeting!

For your second question, a pastor will give account for those he has shepherded. Jesus, who was the Good Shepherd, seemed to only have pastored 12 people. There were many others that followed Jesus, but I'm not sure if I can say that He pastored all of them too. It seems in Jesus' high priestly prayer (John 17) that He was ready to give account for the 12 He pastored. He even mentioned what their current condition was, when He said that He had lost none of them, except the son of perdition (John 17:12). In that verse, He said He kept "every" one that the Father had given Him, that none of them were lost, except Judas of course. So it seems that Jesus' shepherding was only to 12 people, 11 being successfully shepherded, and 1 who had gone astray, with no fault to Jesus. Why do modern-day pastors think they can handle a bigger load than what Jesus took? I don't know how they will answer. One of the churches I attend has 4000 attendees. There are only 6 pastors, and about 25 elders. The pastors hold a higher position in this church than the elders. One of the pastors is the 'senior' pastor. Will he have to give account for all 4000? That must be a scary thing since he probably has never met half of them! Even if he met all of them, he wouldn't be able to disciple most of them. He can only preach to them every Sunday morning; does that qualify as a pastoral role? I'm not sure if it does qualify. Perhaps he will only have to give account over those whom he discipled. Remember, the church meetings in the first century were much smaller and probably easier to handle.


Troy wrote:Regarding the first question, the Scriptures clearly command Christians to submit to and honor an elder body (Heb. 13:17, 1 Tim. 5:17). If there is no understanding of local church membership, then who are we to submit to and obey? Is it anyone with the title “elder” from any church? Should you as a Christian obey and submit to those loons at Westboro Baptist? In order to obey Scripture, must you picket soldiers’ funerals, as the pastor of Westboro seems to imply?
I'm not sure what is happening at this Westboro church you are describing... I haven't heard of them, perhaps they are in the news or something. I believe that every Christian should be acquainted with a regular fellowship of believers. In that assembly, there will be leaders (whether appointed or not). We should obey them (as well as everyone else--Eph. 5:21) when they speak the truth. Just because someone is acquainted with a local fellowship of believers, why must that require a church membership contract you fill out? I attended a church for four years (Calvary Chapel) where I was committed to attending and submitting to the believers there. I didn't do it perfectly, but I tried nonetheless. Many of the believers there, including myself, were committed to attending and serving there. I never had to "become a member" to ensure I was committed to meeting with those Christians. And if I ever came to the place where I realized that assembly was no longer for me (which I did), I had the freedom to leave because God was calling me elsewhere (theologically, practically, and locationally). Should I have remained there despite all of those reasons because I should of had a contract I was committed to?

Troy wrote:Regarding the second question, the Scriptures clearly command an elder body to care for specific people (1 Pet. 5:1-5; also, Acts 20:29-30). Will I as a pastor be held accountable for all the Christians in the Dallas Metroplex? There are many churches in Dallas that I have strong theological and philosophical differences with. Will I give account for what they teach in their small group, how they spend their money, and what they do concerning international missions?
You surely will not be held accountable for Christians you have never met. You also will not be held accountable for certain Christians you have not discipled. Although pastors should feed the flock, that is not all they have to do. Teaching the Bible, or making executive decisions for an organization, or counseling other Christians may be part of that role, but it is not only those things. Those things are superfluous unless a pastor is actually "shepherding". A pastor in our day can teach the Bible, wear the fancy clothes, receive a salary, sign the checks for the organization, and have counseling appointments with believers like a psychiatrist does, but still not "shepherd" the flock. Shepherding the flock may include those things, but actual discipleship is practical life application and living life alongside other believers. It is not merely holding an office like a CEO. You will be accountable for those whom you disciple, in my opinion. And, also for what you teach (James 3:1). Remember, in the New Testament times, this was not very difficult for pastors. They didn't overwhelm themselves with all of the extra junk that most church buildings and organizations do. They just taught people, lived among them, and practically showed them by example. How many pastors today actually disciple this way? Can they even be qualified to be considered true pastors, or are they just in a career of professional religiosity? I'm sure there are some in both categories.

Troy wrote:What about Church Discipline?

After considering questions of authority and submission, the second issue that came up in my study of the local church was the biblical teaching on church discipline.

You see it in several places, but none so clearly as 1 Corinthians 5:1-12. In this text Paul confronts the church in Corinth for approving of a man walking in blatant, unrepentant sexual immorality. The Corinthians are celebrating this as God’s grace, but Paul warns them that this type of wickedness shouldn’t make them boast, but rather mourn. He calls them arrogant and tells them to remove this man for the destruction of his flesh and the hopeful salvation of his soul. In verses 11-12, he pulls no punches: “But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?”

“Church discipline won’t work if local church membership doesn’t exist.”

It has been my sad experience that very few churches still practice church discipline, but that’s another article for another day. My question out of this text is simple: How can you kick someone “out” if there isn’t an “in”? If there is no local commitment to a covenant community of faith, then how do you remove someone from that community of faith? Church discipline won’t work if local church membership doesn’t exist.
I don't understand your logic here. Just because Christians gather in a specific locale doesn't mean that they are required to become "members" of a specific group that is smaller than the universal body of Christ. The believers in Corinth (who knew this man) stopped associating with him since he claimed to be a brother; and they didn't allow him to come back to their meetings. This was corporate discipline. There wasn't a senior pastor who made the call and said, "Okay! You're out now!" Everyone in all the Corinthian churches throughout the whole city was to shun this man until he repented. Also, we must understand that everyone who went to Christian gatherings in that day were true Christians. Perhaps a non-believer would stumble in, and perhaps even people invited non-believers to the meetings. But it was still recognized, due to the size of the meetings, who were professing Christians. There wasn't a thousand members on a list in which they crossed off this man's name from the list and stopped sending him tithe envelopes. Most of the attendees to those meetings were true Christians. And since they were meeting in homes, there probably couldn't be more than a few dozen people in each meeting unless the Christians were wealthy. Therefore, I'm sure the recognized leaders were able to maintain some amount of authority since there were probably dozens of separate meetings happening all throughout the large city of Corinth.

In the church I'm attending which is encouraging me to become a member, they offer the membership to everyone. But not everyone becomes a member, but many still attend anyway. Then what about those who do not become members? Do they tell them to stop coming? I haven't heard the pastor say that yet. I think there will always be, in every institutional church which has membership, those who 'are' members and those who 'are not'. Then, the question arises, will the pastor shun those who do not sign a paper and agree with their theological camp? Would Jesus have been this exclusive? In this church I'm speaking of, they hold to some "essentials" that I could not agree to in good conscience (on my understanding of Scripture) and become a member. Am I not allowed to go there anymore? Is this not, "I am of Paul", or "I am of Cephas"? Is this not fleshly sin?

Troy wrote:Lots of Other Evidence for Membership

There are other evidences to support local church membership in the Scriptures.

* In Acts 2:37-47, we see that there is a numerical record of those who have professed Christ and been filled with the Holy Spirit (v. 41) and an acknowledgment that the church was tracking the growth (v. 47).
I think it's a stretch to say that they were tracking growth. It says "about" three thousand souls were saved in Acts 2:41. If it said, "the apostles counted and 3,142 souls were saved".. perhaps this argument could stand. Also, Acts 2:47 says that people were being added to the church each day. It does not say that they were tracking these numbers.
Troy wrote: * In Acts 6:1-6, we see elections take place in order to address a specific problem and accusation.
Those who do not hold to "membership to a local assembly" do not assume that the church does not have a corporate function. This passage states that the multitude in the church made a decision. This does not refer to anything regarding a "sectarian membership policy". If a group meets regularly in a specific locale for the purpose of edification, praise God. Why is it required that they separate themselves from all other assemblies in their area, or even in the world?


Troy wrote:* In Romans 16:1-16, we see what appears to be an awareness of who is a church member.
Paul just recognizes different people. Phoebe is said to serve in the assembly in Cenchrea (16:1). Does this mean she can't go hang out with her neighbors in the town over and fellowship and serve with them with equal validity? Priscilla and Aquila are said to have helped and served with numerous churches, not just one specific one (16:3-4). However, they had a local expression in their house (16:5). Why must we assume that those who were in that assembly were required to meet only in their house and under some specific form of leadership? Other parts of the chapter refers to specific people's 'households'. It is not known explicitly from the text whether this is just the people they live with or if it is referring to a church that meets in their house. I tend to think it's the former.
Troy wrote:In 1 Timothy 5:3-16, we see a clear teaching on how to handle widows in the church and in verses 9-13 we read this:

Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband, and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work. But refuse to enroll younger widows, for when their passions draw them away from Christ, they desire to marry and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith. Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not.

In this text we see criteria for who would or would not qualify for Ephesus’s widow care program. The local church in Ephesus is organized, and they are working out a plan.
I'm not sure why this translation says "enroll". The word τιμάω (timao) just means to "honor" or "give recognition to". "Enroll" kind of sounds like there's a list being made. Perhaps there was a list, but even so, why must we assume that membership is required in this scenario? I think Paul is just exhorting Timothy to recognize those who deserve to be supported by the church, not necessarily because they belong to an "in" crowd. Everyone was "in" in the early church as long as they submitted to Christ as Lord. And I'm sure there were a lot more dedicated people in those assemblies at that time because the Church hadn't been corrupted yet.
Troy wrote: We could go on and on here, asking questions about how we could be obedient to the commands of God in 1 Corinthians 12 or Romans 12 if we aren’t connected to a local covenant community of faith. But to unpack all the possible texts would require longer than I have for this article.
I don't disagree that we should be "connected" to a certain locality and with a group of believers on a consistent basis. I just don't see why we must only associate with one group above others that may be equally as viable in our locality.
Troy wrote:“When church is just a place you attend without ever joining, like an ecclesiological buffet, you just might consider whether you’re always leaving whenever your heart begins to be exposed by the Spirit, and the real work is beginning to happen.”
I find that I learn much more by fellowshipping with Christians in more than one group. I think the "buffet" you're describing is healthy. I was a "member" of a church for 4 years (unofficially, but I never went to another church in that time) but I felt it was unhealthy. I always heard the same teaching with the same emphasis, always served in the exact same ways, and never got to hang out with other Christians who thought and served differently. I got sucked into an "ecclesiological bubble" and I think it was more harmful than helpful in some ways.
Troy wrote:What’s the bottom line? Local church membership is a question of biblical obedience, not personal preference.
From my assessment of what you have shared, I do not see any requirement for joining a specific congregation to the exclusion of all other congregations in a locality. I do not "church hop" because of personal preference, but because I feel called to engage other parts of the body of Christ and encourage believers in those congregations.

I personally attend numerous "assemblies". One is quite a large Calvary Chapel, and I appreciate the relationships I already have there so I still attend, but only once every month or two. The other is a home fellowship (branched out of that Calvary Chapel), and I really like the discussion format and fellowship there. I think that assembly is the most edifying I have found in my locality. We meet once every two weeks. Another is an Acts 29 church (heavy on church membership) which I try to attend every Sunday if I can. I serve in all three of these ministries in some capacity. I also sometimes attend the very dead Catholic Church I grew up in, mostly to share the love of Jesus with many senior citizens who know only ritual and not Jesus. There are some true believers there, including I think the priests and song leader (all of whom I personally know). I like to sing the songs they sing in their folk service, mostly because I grew up singing them and really enjoy them. I also take communion there at least once a year just in case Roman Catholicism is true ( :lol: I'm only half serious). I also have attended a Lutheran church in my locale to also encourage other believers. I like traveling to different expressions of the body of Christ because it reminds me that God's body is diverse and it keeps me from the pride and sectarianism I was once accustomed to when I was an unofficial "member" of only one church.
Last edited by RICHinCHRIST on Thu Sep 01, 2011 10:22 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Is church membership biblical?

Post by RICHinCHRIST » Wed Aug 31, 2011 5:27 pm

I would have posted my reply on his blog, but I guess his opinion is not up for discussion. ;)

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Re: Is church membership biblical?

Post by Paidion » Wed Aug 31, 2011 10:24 pm

People join (become members) of a club. Whether you join the Lion's Club, the 4-H Club, or the Masonic lodge, you are placed on a membership role. Was this type of membership carried out in the early church?

...and all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people. and the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. Acts 2:44-47 AV

Jesus established His CHURCH. There is only one CHURCH. The LORD added saved people to the CHURCH. No one could join it just because he wished to do so. There was no membership roll. True disciples were recognized. So it is with any true expression of the CHURCH today. You attend a local assembly, and if you are recognized as a disciple of Christ you are invited to full participation. If you accept this invitation and fellowship with your fellow disciples in this local setting, by doing so, you indicate that you are under the authority of the local elders.

In my opinion, religious organizations who require you to "join" them and get your name on a membership roll, are merely religious clubs, and not expressions of the CHURCH which Christ founded. True local churches are able to discern the Body of Christ, and will fully receive members of that Body.
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Re: Is church membership biblical?

Post by Troy » Wed Aug 31, 2011 10:26 pm

Thanks for the reply! I am about to become a member of an Acts 29 church, which is noted for its awesome community awareness. I like it for that reason more than any other reason. I have really encountered the love and provisions of the Father through the family here.

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Re: Is church membership biblical?

Post by RICHinCHRIST » Wed Aug 31, 2011 10:44 pm

Troy wrote:Thanks for the reply! I am about to become a member of an Acts 29 church, which is noted for its awesome community awareness. I like it for that reason more than any other reason. I have really encountered the love and provisions of the Father through the family here.
I have met some really cool people who love Jesus at the Acts 29 church here in NJ. One of the elders approached me and suggested I stop going to the other churches I go to. I told him my views, and he understood where I was coming from, although he disagreed with me. I don't think I'll ever become a member, but if that is what God is leading you to do, I hope you can be a good asset to the community where you are.

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Re: Is church membership biblical?

Post by Troy » Wed Aug 31, 2011 11:15 pm

Of course, I can't be an elder because I strongly believe God is "THE good Samaritan" and doesn't just "pass by" some because He is more interested their damnation for His own glory than he is giving them grace to respond to Him and enabling them to repent, believe, and come out of death into life! I can't speak against Calvinism (They are a reformed church/movement). Aside from that, there are many ways I can serve and contribute their, and have already been incredibly blessed by their service, contribution, and brotherly-love. Thanks for the encouragement bro!

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Re: Is church membership biblical?

Post by darinhouston » Thu Sep 01, 2011 8:45 am

I passed on an opportunity a few years ago to help start up a missional church in an underchurched area that was to be (and became) part of the Acts 29 movement. At the time, they required not only that one not speak out against the reformed positions officially or unofficially, but they required that we actually affirm the reformed positions in writing. They pretend not to be a denomination, but they are more so than most denominations it seems in practice. There's another thread around here somewhere on Acts 29 -- I'll see if I can find it, but that's a tough phrase to search.

http://www.wvss.com/forumc/viewtopic.ph ... 4ca5fd7d39

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Re: Is church membership biblical?

Post by RICHinCHRIST » Thu Sep 01, 2011 1:16 pm

darinhouston wrote:At the time, they required not only that one not speak out against the reformed positions officially or unofficially, but they required that we actually affirm the reformed positions in writing. They pretend not to be a denomination, but they are more so than most denominations it seems in practice.
I have never spoken to anyone about Calvinism there. However, if it ever comes up, I'm not going to shy away from sharing my opinion. If the believers there are not even up to discussing such things, it would prove that they are pretty close-minded. Many of the Christians there I think probably do not even know what Calvinism is.

I think Calvary Chapel also claims to not be a denomination. I don't think they understand what the word denomination means. From my understanding, it is any group that has its own unique name.

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