Renewable Church Membership – Good or Bad Idea?

"We are proud of our church for many reasons.  One of the biggest is what we call A.R.M.;  Annually Renewable Memberships.  Every year we wipe clean our membership rolls and provide our entire church family with a great opportunity to renew their memberships for another year."

Annually Renewable Membership (A.R.M.)

Taken by Deb

Collegiate Church at Mondsee, site of the wedding in The Sound of Music

Taken by Deb

Several weeks ago I was listening to a program on Christian radio, and the topic being discussed was Renewable Church Membership (RCM).  A pastor in our area – Scott Lehr of Southbridge Fellowship –  was interviewed, and his church began this newfangled type of membership last May.  What follows is a description of RCM: 

"Renewable Church Membership (RCM) is an opportunity for every covenanted member to personally filter their lives through the vision and values they committed to by becoming part of Southbridge Fellowship.  The RCM survey informs the member of God’s grace in their life, gives opportunity for clarity in seeing where there is room for growth, and informs the eldership and leadership of Southbridge in which areas the member would like to see personal growth in coming year.  RCM is also a way to know who is still here and striving with us, and who is not."

Here is Pastor Scott Lehr explaining Renewable Church Membership. 

As our loyal readers know, Dee and I do our best to write about Christian trends.  it will be interesting to see whether Renewable Church Membership catches on and is implemented by other churches.

Renewable Church Membership (RCM) causes me to raise a number of questions, such as:

– Is this approach going to be beneficial or detrimental to the 'health' of any given church long term?

– Do churches with RCM issue letters of transfer for members who fail to renew their membership?

– What happens if a member is incapacitated and unable to fill out the survey required to renew membership?

– Will there be an initiation fee or renewal fee for church members?

– Will RCM weed out those who have limited resources (financial or otherwise)?

– Will members be graded on what they have done throughout the year on behalf of the church?

– Will there be any age restrictions on those who join the church?

– Will those who are away for long periods of time (college students, those in the military, etc.) be able to renew their membership if they cannot make much effort to fulfill the church's mission?

– What are churches trying to accomplish by implementing Renewable Church Membership?

These are just some of the questions I have.  What comments and concerns do our TWW readers have?

Lydia's Corner:   Exodus 12:14-13:16   Matthew 20:29-21:22   Psalm 25:16-22   Proverbs 6:12-15

Comments

Renewable Church Membership – Good or Bad Idea? — 109 Comments

  1. I was a member of the same church for 25 years. I gave them money, I gave them sweat-equity, I rejoiced in people’s salvation; mourned over members moving and prayed with and for those who struggled. I subbed, I led, I swept, I painted and I took ownership (thought I was never the owner) and was wholly committed to the spiritual growth of our congregation. I loved the people; loved their kids, took pride in their accomplishments.

    Then we left. Now I am a church attender with no immediate plans to join. Is the budget in arrears? Not my problem. Are there unbelievers in leadership? Not my problem. Are visitors welcomed? I don’t know; I’m basically a regular visitor.
    Do things need fixing? I suppose so but I don’t get it a lot of thought. Do I love these people? Not yet, maybe some day I will.
    I have become what I despised, a church attender with no real commitment to the local congregation.
    It’s easy this way; sign nothing, take no ownership, leave whenever.

  2. Why do we need membership at all? My family goes to a church which does not have “members” and everything is functioning fine.

  3. Jimmy –

    The point is that you can be a committed, loving, helpful, kind, believer without signing a membership agreement. It is an attitude of the heart. Just like the wedding ring isn’t what keeps me married. It is just an outward sign. I’m married whether I have/wear the ring or not.

  4. Y’know, this sounds suspiciously like those magazine subscription offers that people used to hawk… talk about following a corporate model!

    next thing you know, some churches will offer their very own Ponzi schemes for Members Only. [/sarcasm]

  5. Most churches have privileges of membership that can be important. For some, it is a voting right in business sessions, as well as a qualification to be a teacher, trustee, deacon, to pray at a service, etc. Some churches require that one of a couple or a parent of one belong to the church for the church to be used for a wedding. Some churches provide that a pastor will do the funeral when a family member dies. One of the issues for the elderly and their membership is that, though they cannot be at services, they typically are loyal, make a death gift to the church, and expect to receive a visit and for the pastor to perform the funeral. In some denominations, you have to have been a member of a church to be admitted to their seminary, and to have been recommended by the church.

    If the pastor essentially owns and rules the “church” then there is no reason to belong. If it is congregationally owned and governed, then membership can be a very good thing.

  6. Anyone else think the music in the video was designed to make you let your guard down – i.e. to be almost manipulative?

  7. Interesting comparison in the video between being treated like a guest and a family member. Just my opinion, but it comes across as being part of the "club" where privileges are part of signing on the dotted line package.

    If you're a guest, you get your car parked by him. lol

    We Christians are a clicky bunch, aren't we?

  8. That’s just plain silly.
    The whole “membership” thing is baloney.
    Can you just see St. Paul, any of the disciples, or Jesus pushing that? Gimme a break. When they start pushing membership, come out from among them and be ye separate.

  9. One question I have is, Why?

    Why does this pastor need a mechanism such as “RCM” to accomplish any one of the things on his list? Why can’t he take care of those things as a regular part of his duty as a pastor?

    Notice in his video how he treats visitors. He presupposes them to not be brothers and sisters (i.e. family, like the bible treats us), but rather as “guests.” As if to say, “If you walk into my church, you aren’t a brother or sister. Yet.” No wonder so many people have trouble staying in a church. Walk in the door and you’re treated like an outsider.

  10. Deb asked: “Is this approach going to be beneficial or detrimental to the ‘health’ of any given church long term?”

    While this does seem a whole lot more “connective relationally” than conventional membership concepts or those horrific legal covenants, it sounds like to me at least that there was a logical disconnect here. What raised a warning flag was the process of an annual survey. It made sense to me that if your purpose statement is “To Connect with Jesus for Life Change,” that you’ll want to help people structure a time of reflection. Fine, no problem … at least on the surface of things.

    However, it seems to me that by what WAS said and by what WAS LEFT OUT of being said, that the annual survey is sort of the usual “How are you doing?” plus “How are we doing?” Kind of like a typical pew card / visitor card / bulletin tear-off communication card, only more in depth. Those are okay questions, whether for visitors or for regular attenders and “members.” But here’s the underlying paradigm issue that I think will emerge as a future problem: The way it was stated, this is still a highly individualistic survey endeavor. Yeah, someone helps set up a series of important reflection/input questions. But it’s filled out by/for individuals. And individualism still tends to go logically with consumerism and isolation.

    If this was *really* about connecting with Jesus for life change, and connecting with the Body of Christ as a family, then wouldn’t you instill a larger participatory process like “360-degree feedback”? That’s where people you serve with in ministry periodically offer invited feedback on questions related to “how you’re doing” plus “how we’re doing.” Maybe this church does have that in place. Didn’t sound like anything was going along that line.

    But, I’d suggest that kind of personalized, multi-person feedback is FAR MORE IMPORTANT and growth-inducing than an annual individual membership renewal survey. I don’t want to suggest that such surveys are unnecessary or irrelevant, just that if that’s all you’ve got, that’s barely a minimum indicator of a modestly “healthy” organizational structure. If you’ve got people participating (and not just consuming), then feedback from people you connect and/or serve with or from longer-term community groups would be better. It’s more about peers. But the survey format as stated in the video still seems to me ultimately to be a transaction between individuals and leaders … members to CEO, CFO, CWO (chief worship officer?), CETCETERO.

    Sorry that’s so wordy. Hope it isn’t cloudy. Fighting off fatigue and functioning on fewer cylinders …

  11. Also, as a general concern about "membership," lately I've been wondering about the concepts of "shareholders" (who run things) and "stakeholders" (who receive services), and whether we can find a paradigm or framework that gets rid of the hierarchy of distinctions between clergy/laity, that kind of division with differences of "rights and responsibilities." Not even that governance needs to be a pure democracy or anything, but how do we truly escape consumeristic concepts and/or language when it comes to the topic of membership?

    In terms of cultural trends, this represents a sort of "entrepreneurial start-up" language update to something I posted in late 2007, in an article on "Key Transitions in Church Systems in the Next 10-15 Years."

    Here's the section dealing with membership. I think there are some relevant thoughts there …

    http://futuristguy.wordpress.com/2007/11/13/key-transitions-in-church-systems-in-the-next-10-15-years/

    TRENDS IN MANAGING MEMBERSHIP

    "Seeker-sensitive" programs and using key church services as a platform for evangelism are based on a consumerist paradigm; discipleship – TRUE discipleship – is based on a participatory/producer paradigm. The emerging paradigm that will be in ascendancy soon [what Robert Webber calls the *Younger Evangelical* paradigm] is based on a producer mentality. So, if today’s “front door” to church appeals to consumers, trying to close the “back door” tomorrow is irrelevant.

    Churches that reinforce spiritual consumerism will be functioning on a paradigm in decline that will be in full decay within 25 to 50 years. The time is now to transition toward an integrative, holistic, producer-use-your-giftings paradigm. If we can connect God’s people into meaningful ministry at levels appropriate to their gifts and spiritual maturity, I suspect many aspects of being/doing church will take care of themselves, as long as there is intentional discipleship and training.

    [So, in a previous comment on this post by Deb, when I talked about 360-degree feedback, it's something that only works in a "producerist (by spiritual gifts) mentality" organization. I'm not sure the church in the video connects people with meaningful ministries according to their gifts, or just slots people in to wherever a warm body is needed to fulfill a task. They aren't the same thing. The former is more gift-based ministry, the latter is often just general Christian service that about anyone could do.]

  12. Pingback: Renewable Church Membership – Good or Bad Idea? | The … | churchgrowthissues.com

  13. Jimmy,

    “Then we left.”

    I think there might be a long story in those three words. Maybe not. But I thought you were writing my story for a moment. We used to “belong”, now we “attend”.

    I have little to no desire to try to engage. Once bitten and all that. To the extent that when someone said “your church” recently, I really was puzzled as to what they meant. Then I was so quick to say, “No, we just go along. It isn’t “our” church!”

    Maybe we should mark the attendance sheet “visitor” instead of “regular attender”. I wonder if anyone would notice?

  14. Hmmm. If I don't renew my drivers license, it expires and I cannot legally drive. If I don't renew my auto insurance, the policy lapses and the company won't cover me in case of an accident. He makes the comparison to a married couple renewing their vows. Oh no! In 34 years my wife and I have never renewed our vows! You don't suppose our marriage has expired somewhere along the way!

    This is "church as organization/institution" thinking. I prefer "church as body of Christ" thinking, where I belong to Him for eternity.

  15. I wonder if there’s a subtler point here? The language Mr Lehr uses to describe RCM sounds incredibly like an annual appraisal/ performance review in business. Is there an element of the paradigms of business being applied in inappropriate places in inappropriate ways here?

    I wonder if this might be a particular USA type of thing given the prominence of business in the general culture compared with other parts of the world.

    Not said as a chavinistic thing at all – just recognising the cultural differences.

  16. @ Lee – Church as body of Christ: yes! I think sometimes we don’t really see exactly what that really means. We know it intellectually, but we still think in a ‘church as institution’ way as you described it. The differences between ‘churches’ and denominations stand out, so we so often forget that all of us are part of the one body – the Anglicans, the Baptists, the Lutherans, the Coptics…ALL of us belong to the ONE church.

  17. Also, on memberships and covenants, God has written his name in my heart and my name in His book – why would I need to fill in some flimsy piece of paper to ‘prove’ I’m part of a church?

  18. Jimmy: You said:"Then we left. Now I am a church attender with no immediate plans to join. Is the budget in arrears? Not my problem. Are there unbelievers in leadership? Not my problem. Are visitors welcomed? I don’t know; I’m basically a regular visitor. Do things need fixing? I suppose so but I don’t get it a lot of thought. Do I love these people? Not yet, maybe some day I will."

    You come across as a bitter person. Maybe you don't mean it, but your I don't care attitude rings loud and clear. How sad.

  19. If a church (and I certainly don’t limit or define the church as those official organisations that go by that name!) is functioning properly, there would be no need for an official list of who is part of the community. Church is about relationships. How absurd to think that we would need to do a yearly check of who we are in relationships with!

    One thing of which I am certain: I will never, EVER, become an official, sign-on-the-dotted-line church member again!

  20. I am glad to be a “member.” I support with my time and money, I love to see my fellow worshippers in church and members out and about. I feel a special bond. However, this RCM stuff is, IMO, balderdash. Pure busywork, why would pastor want to waste time like this.

  21. +1 What Steve Scott said

    A church that’s doing its ministry properly (i.e. through ongoing personal contact among the congregation) would know how its members are doing without adding more impersonal adminstrative BS

  22. Richard

    You have hit the nail on the head. The American church, for years, has tried to emulate successful businesses. The problem is that Jesus' take on the ministry would cause most entrepreneurs to run in the opposite direction.

    He disliked those in power, calling them snakes. He preferred to hang with poor people who had minimal disposable income which is bad for business. He healed and fed people for free.

    Americans have inculcated "successful business principles" into the church and that is exactly what they got. People who view it as a business, focusing on numbers and bucks, and not as a visible manifestation of the kingdom of God.

  23. Lee

    Yep, your marrriage is over. Actually your marriage is supposed to emulate the DMV in values and principles. 

  24. I sometimes think that if the church were REALLY not operating by the world’s standards–as the church claims to do–we would have the ugly and the “untalented” preaching. It seems to me that we do the same in the church as we do in the world–if you’re pretty, popular and talented, you can pretty much get what you want and people will follow you.

    (Sorry if I sound bitter–I am having a very rough time with school and with other life circumstances right now.)

  25. Americans have inculcated “successful business principles” into the church and that is exactly what they got. People who view it as a business, focusing on numbers and bucks, and not as a the visible manifestation of the kingdom of God. — Dee

    DILBERT with a Christian Coat of Paint.

    Pointy-haired Boss Pastors and all.

    “You. Help me take this temp out to the dumpster. He’s too big to flush.” — Pointy-haired Boss

    “If I downsize all my employees, I’ll save so much on salaries and health insurance my department will show a profit from equipment depreciation alone. Fat Management Bonus, here I come!” — Pointy-haired Boss, “Your Boss’s Brain”

  26. It seems to me that we do the same in the church as we do in the world–if you’re pretty, popular and talented, you can pretty much get what you want and people will follow you. — Tina

    Just like high school. You’re either a Football Star/Cheerleader, or you’re one of those subhumans getting beaten up in the boy’s room and threatened with gang rape behind the backstop.

  27. I feel a special bond. However, this RCM stuff is, IMO, balderdash. Pure busywork, why would pastor want to waste time like this. — Hanni

    But “pure busywork” is how middle-management types justify their Important Positions to top management. Look busy enough, push enough paper, show enough Important Meetings, and you’re NOT the one who gets Downsized(TM).

  28. Tina –

    I’m sorry life is difficult right now. I will be praying for you.

    I hear what you’re saying. I saw it played out on “The Voice” last night. It is a show that is supposed to be about judges picking based on “voice,” but it is evident by the judges’ reactions when they turn around and see the singer that their choices sometimes may have been different IF they had seen the participant as well. It was very telling last night (IMO).

    We all sometimes judge and make assumptions by what we see instead of actually interacting and getting to know people first. I’ve seen this done to nice looking cheerleader types as well as to the plain looking book worms.

  29. Hanni –

    I think this is a way for a larger church to get and give feedback. Many churches are large and pastors can’t, and don’t, know their members. I liked much of what he said, but the vehicle to accomplish this end is paper pushing work and not relational at all.

    It is interesting that the pastor tries to make the connection by using the analogy of a family. But even a large extended family looses the “relational” aspect because of the largeness. Many believers come into a church based on these types of videos but then do not find the relational aspects they really want. They get a piece of paper once a year instead 🙁

  30. I appreciate the conscientiousness displayed by this policy, but I would not be in favor of it.

    A membership that has an expiration date of a year seems so temporary. It might actually have the opposite effect of reminding people every week of whether they really want to be there. Plus, it just seems like it would involve a lot of energy and discussion that might be put to better use elsewhere.

  31. Dee–you hit the nail on the head re business model come to church.

    I opt out. I stopped modernizing with E. Y. Mullins, and try to get every Baptist and former Baptist I can to read him.

    My name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

    That is membership covenant enough for me.

  32. “My name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

    That is membership covenant enough for me.”

    Agree! I keep reading about how we have to have covenants or else the elders have no “right” to discipline if one is not a signed up member. I have not yet read an explanation of why this is so…just that it is.

    Similarly, I read and hear in sermons that unless one is a signed up member, the pastor cannot possibly do Heb 13:17 properly (or at all) and be accountable for your soul to God. If the pastor does not know who he is accountable for, how can he be accountable…is the question. I hear this frequently as the prime reason for covenants with no explanation on what the accountabliity part means. Just the statement with no explanation. How is the pastor accountable? Do they even know? Are they accountable for our sins and have to say something to God in our behalf?

    Or is it that THEY, the pastors, are accountable to God for how they do ministry, and how they teach, and preach, and conduct themselves as an example we are supposed to emulate. I have not yet heard a pastor say that that is the accountability about which Heb 13:17 is speaking. The accountability to God that many pastors I have listened to think it has to do with watching our lives and our sins and making sure they have control over that because they are somehow accountable to God for our lives.

  33. As a long time member of a Council/Pastor/Elder run mega church, I would say membership does not mean much. The only time you have any real input is to vote/approve the annual budget and vote/approve the 3 or 4 top pastoral positions in the church. By the time you vote the decision is a given. Never seen one fail yet. The details are worked out by the Council/Pastor/Elders long before you vote. Member input that does not line up with what the powers that be are already thinking is disregarded. Members are also allowed to teach bible studies etc..(do the work) although some non members are at times allowed to do the same things if it is beneficial to the powers that be.

    Many of these things like renewable membership are just the latest gimmick.

  34. Pam-

    Music in general, is a way to manipulate. Music is emotion, in my book, so yes, the music is trying to help push people towards the message.

    In my opinion, when pastors appeal for membership it’s for 2 reasons and 2 reasons only.

    1) Control of members, ie-able to tell them what to do and how to do it
    2) Money-If we can tell members what to do, then we can also “encourage” them to give money and free labor to the issues important to the leader(s)

    This video reminds me of the proverb “With a multiplicity of words, sin is not absent.” I am cynical of any pastor that feels the need to “sell” membership to it’s Christian “consumers”.

    For what it’s worth….

  35. @Diane
    “I have not yet heard a pastor say that that is the accountability about which Heb 13:17 is speaking.”

    What? Silver-toungued celebrity, flock-fleecing, dictatorial, multimaedia megachurch pastors accountable? Surely you jest. They hardly think they are accountable to God Almighty.

  36. Membership has nothing to do with Christianity and everything to do with the organization wanting to you sign at the dotted line.

  37. To those who say membership isn’t needed. Then you need to attend a mainline where the power is all in the hierarchy or something like a home church (really a weekly bible study/worship) with no business needs at all.

    If you have to pay rent, hire a staff, build a building, pay for a phone, or whatnot, in today’s world you have to become a legal entity or have a sugar daddy or few who just pay for all that stuff. Landlords want leases to be signed, insurance purchased, etc.

    So you either form a church as a legal organization or stay very small. And if you form the legal thing you at that point need a document that describes who is a part of this thing and how decisions are made. And thus we get membership.

    Now all the extra junk tossed on board with it other than “I’m a member” is what creates all the hassles.

  38. doubtful:

    Music in general, is a way to manipulate. Music is emotion, in my book, so yes, the music is trying to help push people towards the message.

    I would disagree that music in general is a way to manipulate. Music is a medium of communication that, as you point out, tends to directly affect our emotions, assuming we understand it's form. But as a tool for manipulation, that falls squarely on the shoulder of the person or persons taking that medium of communication and using it to manipulate.

    Music can be used to help heal, to help calm, to help bring beauty into the world. And none of those is manipulation. But because it can bypass our minds and go directly to our hearts (emotions), it can be a powerful tool in the hands of someone whose goal it is to manipulate.

    Zeta

  39. “You come across as a bitter person. Maybe you don’t mean it, but your I don’t care attitude rings loud and clear. How sad.”

    Mot, I have no idea what jimmy has experienced in his church life. I wondered if his comment was intended to be tongue-in-cheek but I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. He might say it differently than me, but I identify strongly with his sentiments about what it is like to be an “attender” after belonging for 25 years. Funny how the numbers are the same!

    Shutting him down by calling him bitter is a trigger for me. It reminds me of the “don’t speak” rule – that jimmy should only say things that don’t seem “sad”! Jimmy might be a thorn in the flesh at times, (he and I have butted heads here at TWW), but my guess is that is exactly what happened in his 25 year church – that the “don’t talk” rule kicked in and the establishment circled to protect the status quo and jimmy got kicked to the curb. Or maybe not, just my guess.

    According to the TWW basics:

    “We believe certain words and phrases are overused and are intended to intimidate, dismiss, or diminish.(For example, “bitter”).”

  40. Generally, people who have been long time members of a church make a provision in their will or trust to give some portion of their estate to their church. A recent case was an elderly lady who had a paid for house, no children or other known heirs (under the law, anyone who could prove a common ancestor can be an heir at law, but most states limit that to a few generations). So she left the house to the church, to be sold and the money used in ministry. In another instance, the trust provided for money to go to the church where the person had been a member but could no longer attend due to the terminal illness, as well as to some relatives, college, etc.

    Being a member does not have to be negative. That depends upon the church, the staff and lay leadership, and the structure set forth in the bylaws. If one is in a “priesthood of all believers” (equality in governance) church (vs. “pastoral authority” or “elder authority”), membership is likely safe and possibly beneficial.

  41. Heather,

    It would be beneficial to the discussion if Jimmy would let us know whether he wrote about his own personal experience or was being tongue-in-cheek. 

  42. An Attorney –

    I agree that being a member does not “have” to be a negative. Unfortunately, though, it seems that many churches are “using” membership covenants as a means to control and “lord over” people. They are producing documents, long and short, with unclear wording which they want you to sign. The leaders in many of these churches then have much more power and control over your life than you would ever be allowed to have in theirs. Most of these churches are not “priesthood of believers” or “congressional” in nature.

    I stood before my church and made a commitment and they to me. That church now has completely different elders (which is a good thing in this case) but, at the same time, I was given little, to zero, say in any of these changes in leaders. Yet, I am supposed to be on board with the current leaders.

  43. Heather:

    I will say it this way. Just about everything I have ever read from Jimmy strikes me as a bitter person. I’m not trying to shut him down one bit. He is free to speak his mind as I am.

  44. “I will say it this way. Just about everything I have ever read from Jimmy strikes me as a bitter person. I’m not trying to shut him down one bit. He is free to speak his mind as I am.”

    Mot, thank you for clarifying.

    “It would be beneficial to the discussion if Jimmy would let us know whether he wrote about his own personal experience or was being tongue-in-cheek.”

    Deb, it would be.

  45. N.F.M.; No-Fault Membership? (Lawyer-approved) 

    Sign nothing, 
    Take no ownership, 
    Leave whenever,
    Discretionary giving,
    No headaches,
    No grass ta mow.
    No hits, no runs, no errors.

    Ahem! Now a days, churches know this as they add food cafeterias and coffee bars, bookstores, concerts, seminars, simulcasts, community outreach events with consumer stalls and food stands, and ax programs that don’t show a profit, annular employee performance appraisals, etc. I kid you not!

    What is the impact of using business strategies and consumer values in the church? In a fairly recent surveyof 1,000 church attenders respondents were asked, ‘Why does the church exist?’ According to 89 percent of those surveyed said the church’s purpose was ‘to take care of my family’s and my spiritual needs.’ It would seem, only 11 percent said the purpose of the church is ‘to win the world for Jesus Christ’.

    Coffee? Yeah! Make mine a mint-moka frap please!

    Pizza, sure!

    “House O’ prayer…!?!” Wherez ma cords?

    -snicker-

    P.S. “No Worries Baby!” If you feel really guilty, just chuck the price of a movie ticket in da plate as it passes by. Hey, it’s tax deductible!

    Yeah, alrighty then. Good night, kind folks. Would the last person to leave the church in America please turn off da lights?

    (grin)

    hahahahahahaha

    S“㋡”py 

  46. I have several concerns about this video. He says,

    “It’s like moving from being a guest to being a family member”

    “If you are a family member, I would lay my life down for you.” [But not if you aren’t.]

    “…there’s the story of the beginning of the church in Acts chapter 5, verses 11 and 12, there. The people were in awe of what God’s doing, the miracles that were happening, all that stuff, but they were reluctant to join that group…what were they afraid to join? The church.”

    My background is baptist so my understanding is, you join a church because you are a Christian, not to become one. You join the church (invisible) through being joined to its Head, not join the Head by joining the church (visible). I don’t hear this in his language. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to or not. I don’t disagree that there is a connection between being in Christ and being part of a group of others who are in Christ. But his language causes me to question which order he puts things in, which is contingent on what?

    As it is, he is talking here as though joining his church is the same thing as getting saved. I suspect if he were confronted with that comment he would deny that was his intent. Nevertheless, the basis of his familial connection to you does not seem to be the baptism by the Spirit into one body (the church universal and invisible) but the official joining of his particular assembly, moving from guest to family member of his group (the church visible). In his treatment of Acts he implies that you get saved by joining “the group” or “the church,” not that the Spirit puts you into the body and therefore you join the others who have had the same experience. So I wonder what his view is and if he would deny salvation contingent on church membership, and why his language lends itself so readily to that understanding.

    Besides that there are several potential problems here and probably more than these:

    1) Are people who are not part of your group Christians? If so, on what basis do you judge this?
    2) Does leaving your group mean they are not Christians, especially if leaving happens on less than ideal terms?
    3) Is one’s salvation determined by whether they want to become “family”? Are you unwilling to call them brothers in Christ if they are believers but do not want to join your “family”?
    4) What would be the implication of someone not wanting to renew?

  47. Notice in his video how he treats visitors. He presupposes them to not be brothers and sisters (i.e. family, like the bible treats us), but rather as “guests.” As if to say, “If you walk into my church, you aren’t a brother or sister. Yet.” No wonder so many people have trouble staying in a church. Walk in the door and you’re treated like an outsider.

    Steve Scott,

    Yeah. That’s what I mean! It’s like “I don’t regard you as a brother until you join.”

  48. Has C.Peter Wagner’s  Church Consumerism Run Amok?

    HowDee YaAll,

    A.R.M.;  Annually Renewable Memberships?

    Is’t dat the epitome of church “doing the impersonal”?

    Whew! Yeah! Silly me! …and all the time I’ze a think’in we were suppoze ta ‘B’ da church? Doing church requires somebudy ta pay fer da litez, sure…Being da church, however requires somebudy ta believe  & follow Jesus.  Much more of a challenge, huh?

    Anybudy can ‘do’ church… ARM’d or not.

    But, but, but, follow’in Jesus….don’t forget ta tie your shoes!

    (Grin)

    hahahahahahaha

    S“㋡”py

  49. Orions Belt-

    I agree music can be those things as well. But music, as you point out, usually bypasses our intellect and goes straight towards our emotions.

    One has to wonder why you would put a soundtrack underlying a message that is supposed to be informational. In my opinion, that’s why it’s using music to manipulate. It wasn’t just an intro or a background to an emotional appeal he was making, it ran throughout the whole video.

  50. Sopy
    It does cause me to giggle a bit. Use our tithes to start a coffee bar, bring in the best music they can buy (usually some guys who didn’t quite make it on Billboard-for good reason). Then they tell us that they have “real professionals” making up new (read: unsingable) songs. Pastors get high salaries and spend their time writing books that only their buddies read and going to conferences.

    Meantime, I listen to half baked sermons about how the pastor is a king, I need to be disciplined for not trusting the leadership, get sermons in which it has been revealed to the pastor that Esther is a slut, and our children should all be married by the time they hit 19.

    And for this, they insist I tithe? We now send our money to groups I can trust. I may be a bit crazy but I am not that crazy.

  51. Eagle
    What did you friend say to rebut your statements? From what I can tell, you are correct. I can assure you that CJ and company are NOT prioritizing the poor, unless they define themselves as poor. For example, I do not think CJ earns as much as Ed Young Jr. yet…

  52. Did anyone else check the verse he gave–Acts 2:42 and how he used the phrase “the fellowship”? He emphasized the word “the” to mean a particular group, which then led to him saying, in a very quickl and rapid manner, that the NT taught membership. 1:40 min mark.

    I only found the word “the” in 2 translations…niv and esv. 15 out of 18 translations in the online parallel bible did not have the word the, but only the word fellowship– and a couple of translations did not have the word fellowship at all.

  53. “Is Jesus Still Giv’in Out Lifetime Memberships?”

    HowDee YaAll,

    bed’da ta be devoted & in Jesus, shar’in him wit doze ya know den be’in mandatory pew potatoes! If youze da wimen, ya maybe don’t get ta say nuffin @all. What kinda fun is dat? Oh’ datz right we’ze under da ‘law’ in dem dar ‘churches’, not under “graze”, imagine dat!

    …hum, hum,hum… ♫♫♫ What a friend we’ze gotz in Jesus, all our church membership dues he done paid. 

    ha!

    …♫♫♫ What a privilege it is, to, have him sign for, our very membership in heaven, with his blood!

    “With his blood!” …magine dat!

    Church membership? “…id rather have Jesus”

    Ma membership is a lifetime one, howze bout youze?

    …If anybudy be in Christ…theyz a new c-r-e-a-t-i-o-n, da old has done passed away, (thank goodness) N’ all things are bright N’ shiny new! Imagine dat!

    I’ze like da sound of it!

    (grin)

    hahahahahahaha

    S“㋡”py

  54. Lynn – right you are!

    I was raised in a mainline (am Lutheran) and really, there *has* to be some kind of administrative setup and membership + church council, or else things fall apart pretty quickly.

    But mainlines (and liturgical churches in particular) have an entirely different view of “membership” to what’s being discussed here, which seems more like a combination of “Sign on the dotted line and pay $$$ so I can be Your Dictator”” + what I might call a kind of “country club” snobbishness (which is also about $$$).

    As others have pointed out, it’s based on a franchise business model as well as an authoritarian one – a deadly combination, in my experience!

  55. Re. asking to see W-2s, I have to wonder how on earth that can possibly be legal?!

    otoh, if some people are foolish enough to give in to such a demand, well…. I do feel for those who are pressured and cowed into so-called “submission,” but I’m also thinking that there are folks who willingly pay money and show documents in order to get into the In Crowd. (boy, I’m showing my age! Check http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upwrq1QZKV8 )

  56. “”Two In Da Water Easy?””

    “Dee: “ “Pastors get high salaries and spend their time writing books that only their buddies read and going to conferences.”

    heh, heh, heh…

    …now a dayz theyz dont’a make tentz anymo, datz fer sure, muz’b all dose suckers Mr Fields use’ta talk bout, I ‘m a suppozen.

    A fool and theyz money meetz da soonest departure…

    imagine dat?

    (grin)

    hahahahahahaha

    S“㋡”py

  57. Jimmy made a nice attempt at hiding his little non sequitur. But it was not successful. Commitment = Binding Signature is not a Truth.

  58. “Re. asking to see W-2s, I have to wonder how on earth that can possibly be legal?!”

    Perfectly legal. The gov considers your church affiliation completely voluntary. What is amazing is how many people will actually show them. Makes one wonder about the future of this free nation if folks are this gullible about following leaders.

  59. My practical experience with renewable memberships, went like this

    – 1 Year Renewable Membership
    – Due to pastor/staff problems with procrastination, depression, family problems….no one was provided opportunity to renew
    – At some point, we have 0 members, but still 200+ attending
    – Pastor has some issues, and ends up leaving the church
    – We now have 0 members and no pastor or staff
    – Yet, we still have bills to pay and a need to find a path to get a new pastor
    – Within 3 months, we drop to 30 attending and still 0 members
    – Also, due to poor record keeping, there was no good record of who was members before their membership ‘expired’

    As you can quickly see, the practical problems keep getting worse. When a church has problems, renewable membership helps turn a snowball into an avalanche.

  60. Anon1

    There is a major push on to “control” the flock. I know a Neo Cal pastor, one month into his job, who wrote about needing to impose discipline on his new congregation. He hadn’t spent any time with these  folks-merely a bunch of time writing articles about being an effective head pastor. Pastors are telling their “flock” to trust their leaders but, being a bit contentious, I ask why. They have not proved themselves worthy of such trust. Being “elected” elder does not mean I can trust them,especially those who hide from their congregation new theological or disciplinary ideas.

    Unfortunately, they will use those W2 forms to impose discipline and control on member finances when many of them refuse to release their pastors’ exact salaries, benefits and perks. We get to show them what we make and they will not, under any circumstances, who us what they make. 

  61. The Sound of Music?

    For you Deb:

    (Hit it Oscar…)

    a one, and. two, and a…

    …hum, hum,hum…

    “… ♫♫♫  Rain drops on roses, whiskers on kittens, “
    bright copper kettles, warm woolen mittens, 
    brown paper packages tied up with strings, 

    these are a few of my favorite things…

    … ♫♫♫  Cream colored ponies, crisp apple strudels, 
    doorbells and sleigh-bells, schnitzel with noodles, 
    Wartburg a’ fly’in with da moon dar their wings, 
    deeze are a few of my favorite thingz….

    … ♫♫♫  When the dog bites, when the bee stings, 
    when I’m feel’in sad, 
    I simply remember my favorite thingz, 
    and then I don’t feel… 

    (grin)

    Cheeeeeeese!

    S“㋡”py 

  62. Your question “Do churches with RCM issue letters of transfer for members who fail to renew their membership?” is actually core to one of the big problems in the SBC right now. As near as I can tell, due to renewable memberships, non-denominational churches, churches that are only loosely associated with SBC, and several others issues many SBC churches have apparently given up on the idea of letters of transfer. Even this phrase “letter of transfer” I only hear from older church members. Younger members think of it as a left over from a previous church structure. This has led to many people being listed in multiple churches, or even active in a church and not being counted. The SBC statistic on 14 million members is completely meaningless.

  63. Jimmy

    i am sorry that you take no ownership when you are not a signed member of a church. However, some folks are nto members and often give and do more than supposed members. They just don’t brag about it. You cannot make that judgement about who care and who does not care. There are many “members” who do not care amd there are many “nonmembers” who do. I can assure you that, when I decide to get involved with something, I do so and do not need a piece of paper to show my committment.

    For example, I belong to a Christian health professional group in which I am in a position of leadership. I give a boatload of time, I support it with finances, I run their website, i care and pray for the members and I serve quite a few students. I signed NOTHING. But my yes is my yes. 

  64. “But my yes is my yes”

    Bingo. And this is why all these “Puritan” inspired membership tricks are worthless for the “Body of Christ”.

  65. “I know a Neo Cal pastor, one month into his job, who wrote about needing to impose discipline on his new congregation. He hadn’t spent any time with these folks-merely a bunch of time writing articles about being an effective head pastor. Pastors are telling their “flock” to trust their leaders but, being a bit contentious, I ask why. They have not proved themselves worthy of such trust. Being “elected” elder does not mean I can trust them,especially those who hide from their congregation new theological or disciplinary ideas. ”

    This is going on all over especially the SBC. They are puffed up with knowledge (wrong knowledge, btw) and trying to emulate 9 Marks, Piper, Mohler, Mahaney, whoever is flavor of the year. They are little boys who need to feel important. They know nothing of being in the trenches.

    What is missing? The Holy Spirit and Love.

  66. Sopy,

    I love The Sound of Music!  When I traveled to Austria with my daughters’ choir a few years back, we were able to see most of the places featured in the movie.   Thanks for those verses.  Now I’m hearing them playing in my head…

  67. Anon 1,

    Couldn’t agree more!  I have seen it up close and personal. 

    RED FLAG:  We need to change the church by-laws…

  68. Jimmy

    One further issue and that is the Holy Spirit. If you (or some member) doesn’t care then something is deeply wrong with the Spirit in their lives. Do you really think that making them sign their name will change that problem?It seems to me that we are going down the legalistic road. if they can’t be “good” members, we will make them be “good” members.

  69. Anon1: You said:”What is missing? The Holy Spirit and Love.”

    SBC leaders are afraid of the Holy Spirit and love what is that, the leaders would say.

    This about CONTROL and such was the case of the Southern Baptist Convention takeover by the FUNDAMENTALIST.

    The thirst for control by SBC leaders is endless.

  70. All this sort of thing does is insures the current leadership has the support they want. It could also be seen as an invitation to leave to those who don’t fully support that leadership. Anyone who bears the image of Jesus in their life is already a member of HIS church. That’s all I’m concerned with anyway. Church politics is of no interest to me.

  71. @ Eagle:

    “I’ve got all of heaven’s riches
    Thanks to all you stupid b****es –
    O praise the Lord for modern Christianity!”

    This song makes me think of Doug Phillips, Vision Forum and the Botkin sisters (what do you MEAN everyone doesn’t have a harp AND a grand piano in their house?!).

  72. @ Eagle – that’s The Chaser, an Australian comedy group. They’re very funny and do like to parody and critique all sorts of groups and people (they’ve gotten themselves in trouble for being offensive a few times). That song is a great one.

  73. Pastor Scott refers to church members as family. I was born into my family. It’s based on relationship. I didn’t have to apply for membership and I certainly don’t have to renew. The moment I have to pay to stay, it stops being about relationship and starts being about consumerism (i.e., Show me the money!), no matter how Pastor Scott wants to spin it.

    What is going to happen if someone is under church discipline and their membership runs out? If they don’t renew, they are no longer a member and not subject to church discipline. Will they be forced to pay up? I guess the church will need to require members to provide credit card information so they can charge the membership fee to your credit card in case something like this happens.

  74. Diane wrote:

    Did anyone else check the verse he gave–Acts 2:42 and how he used the phrase “the fellowship”? He emphasized the word “the” to mean a particular group, which then led to him saying, in a very quick and rapid manner, that the NT taught membership. 1:40 min mark.

    I only found the word “the” in 2 translations…niv and esv. 15 out of 18 translations in the online parallel bible did not have the word the, but only the word fellowship– and a couple of translations did not have the word fellowship at all.

    May I take the liberty of attempting to shed a bit more light here? (I’ll take that as a “yes”.) If you translate the original Greek word-by-word it runs roughly thus:
    They also were [persistently following]* the teaching of the apostles, and the fellowship, and the breaking of the bread, and the prayers

    * This is one word in Greek, with many possible translations.

    The breaking of THE bread? Did they only have one loaf that they used all the time because it was somehow specially blessed, holy and irreplaceable? I suspect not… The point is that the definite article (i.e., “the”), whilst present, carries little or no meaning in this context. As a comparison, many places in the Greek new testament that refer to Jesus by name, literally refer to “the Jesus”; the same applies to other named individuals. It’s how NT Greek works. And, with due respect to our pastor friend in the clip, I really don’t think you can hang a point of doctrine on it.

    In any case, “fellowship” was an abstract noun in those days, like “friendship”. It’s only in modern-day Christian jargon that it’s become a collective noun (as in, a herd of horses, a flotilla of boats, a fellowship of Christians). That’s not wrong – language is always changing, after all – but it is a mistake to take modern meanings and retrospectively apply them to old translations of even older foreign words.

    But that’s rather picky and legalistic; there are much broader problems with this idea of membership. How many other “fellowships” were there in Jerusalem in those days? Did they have to make sure they were part of this fellowship and not that fellowship? Again, no; there was only one church. And herein lies the rub.

    Let me put this as graciously as I can. We say we believe in one church. But in practice, there are groups of believers gathering around different traditions, different doctrines, different interpretations (and even translations) of the bible, in just about every variation, with geographical catchment areas of just about every size. So if we want to continue with our own, we have to build walls around it. Thus, we have to define some kind of “membership” in addition to the spiritual membership of the Body of Christ that the new testament speaks of. That way we can plan, and pay for, our various programs and the staff they require.

    As far as I can see, that may be an authentic functioning part of the church. But it cannot be called “a church” because there still only is one church. When the pastor in the clip refers to their church, he is undoubtedly distinguishing it from “other churches” that meet nearby, but towards whose members he owes no particular duty of care. But really, he’s talking about a para-church organisation with certain limited localised objectives.

  75. Is YoUr church ARM -ing a faulty continuity?

    HowDee YaAll,

    “ARM” : limited commitment (yearly) of both parties. Both parties can “elect” not to renew ‘the’ membership/commitment/relationship. The church can ‘elect’ not to renew a certain membership, at the will and discretion of the church leadership/eldership. 

    ( An atmosphere perhaps? hey, come on board, try it for a year, see if you like it, if you do…renew! We’d love to have ya!)  -snicker- 

    So maybe if you make waves, da boot can’t be far ‘behind’. 🙂 

    Church organizations always act in their own best interest. Organizations also speak of ownership by a select group, so why should churches be any different. 

    Isn’t this main reason folks don’t return to the church after college: these churches neither speak to them or for them, hence the departure, and continuity.

    [Maybe it does smack of a monetary ruse.]

    …give a sucker a break, eh? 

    probably not.  🙁

    Jesus, I can still ‘Hear’ the music… (thanx!)

    (grin)

    hahahahahahaha

    S“㋡”py 

  76. @ Nick~~

    “But really, he’s talking about a para-church organisation with certain limited localised objectives.”

    I like how you put that.

    Thank you for your gracious explanation.

  77. n any case, “fellowship” was an abstract noun in those days, like “friendship”. It’s only in modern-day Christian jargon that it’s become a collective noun (as in, a herd of horses, a flotilla of boats, a fellowship of Christians). — Nick

    Don’t forget “fellowship” as a verb. To Fellowship, Fellowshipped, Fellowshipping, etc. Though noun-to-verb usages are common in English, as far as I know “fellowship” as a verb is purely Christianese.

  78. Renewable membership really translates into more easily revocable membership.

    Time was, yes especially we Baptists were known for church discipline. Of course, in our parts you had to break out into pretty big and unrepentant sin. Something like flagrant, open adultery could get you “churched.”

    BUT–it had to be brought up in business meeting, which the whole membership could attend and vote in. Took the community of faith, not some petty dictator to oust you.

    I ceased being formally SBC when I realized they had become every bit as hierarchial as the RCC.

    I need no priest except my Great High Priest as intermediary between the Father and I, and woe to the man who tries to get in between.

  79. I ceased being formally SBC when I realized they had become every bit as hierarchial as the RCC. — Linda

    As a Romish Papist, I would like to point out that the SBC has become MORE heirarchical than the RCC. At least RCC dioceses and parishes are not inherited from father to son — that was one of the practical reasons the RCC enforced priestly celibacy.

  80. Eagle-

    Sovereign Militant wrote the playbook on re-affirming humility, eh? Yes, they have taken the allotted AoR exemptions. 🙂

    Thanx for the laugh!

    (aren’t I suppose to ‘B’ mak’in you feel bedder?

  81. HUD-

    Don’t forget the possible use of the word “fellowship” as a descriptive adjective,  as in a herd of @sses. 🙂

  82. Are churches now offering limited-liability partnerships?

            Hello,

        Enter the worship venue at Southbridge, serving the Raleigh-Durham community. They now offer limited liability partnerships? Worship in comfort and security. Should you decide to join, your commitment would only be binding for one year. Cancel at anytime. Is consumer discretion requested, and  encouraged at this house of worship? 

    It would seem so.  

    Wartburg, if I turn on my hazard lights, will you give me a front row spot, too?

    I brought my own coffee.

    IronClad

  83. headless unicorn guy– YES!

    And at least our local RCC priests can be removed by the higher ups if they go far afield.

    We’ve reinvented the pope and he has all the authority yours has, with none of the checks and balances. Each church has one, and he rules supreme at his own discretion.

  84. Diane,

    That is a good comment. Personally, I think Pastor Lehrer is more a product of this generation, this culture, the NeoCal movement in general than someone out to enslave people in commitment to Southbridge. What you have just said just simply isn't being taught to new Christians with any real force or clarity. And I doubt Lehrer has a good concept of it just because he's part of this generation (he's pretty young by my standards). There is one church, one body of Christ, and we are all obligated to each other. Let the foot not say to the hand, "I have no need of thee". In our age, that would be let the SBC not say to the UMC or (even) the RCC "I have no need of thee".

    As to the music. I did finally listen to the spiel last night. And I will have to say, this is definitely just yet another encroachment of our entertainment oriented flashy gotta be up to date version of Christianity. Most taped spiels that are 'professionally' done will have some kind of accompanying sound track. It's just how we do things in the 'biz. But I think the particular choice of 'music' was in keeping with the fact amateurs with more money (equipment) than experience were at the helm 🙂

    Zeta

  85. “And What will You Do With That Freedom…?

    @Linda: “with none of the checks and balances.”

    Linda-

    And maybe we have Wackjobs, sure!

    more rather, our William Wallace’s”… 🙂

    “Freeeeeeeeedom!”

    (grin)

    hahahahahahaha

    Where the Lord’s Spirit is…

    …there is liberty!

    S“㋡”py 

  86. Tune In, Turn On, Connect, Connect, Connect… All Else Is Dis-Connect?!?

    HowDee YaAll,

    “Each year, … members can expect an opportunity to consider how their own life is going ‘in the ways of connecting people to Jesus for life change’, and to examine one’s personal development in the arenas of worship, community, growth, service, and generosity.  We view this as a form of corporate accountability, and an opportunity to express God’s grace in personal life change that year.” “…based on each person’s response to the survey, each person will recognize areas of growth and victory over the past year, as well as areas where there is needed growth.  RCM provides a pathway to assist, to come along-side, and to resource and equip members toward growing as a disciple of Christ.” “-Southbridge”

    ‘in the ways of connecting people to Jesus for life change’, sounds likez a program ta me, notz a ministry.

    Is the church membership mechanism in transition?

    Is RCM (Renewable Church Memberships) like having a cell phone? You pay your dues, and you take your chances? Are these type of memberships not just an extension of the connect generation, where everyone is “plugged-in”?

    Those that are not, are nobudys. (so they say in da 18-24 crowd)

    Look at Acts 29 and the City on-line connect community. Some how one does not feel part of the group unless they are connected. Maybe the renewable church memberships, is a “bridge” to that church connection.

    Most large churches have this type community. 

    Annual membership is now seen as becoming a logical progression of that connection.

    …pull da plug? 🙂

    Tell me another story…

    (grin)

    hahahahahaha

    S“㋡”py 

  87. Headless Unicorn Guy – at risk of going off-topic, Christian jargon is a favourite topic of mine. But sticking to the use of “fellowship” as a verb, the best example I’ve personally heard was from a leader closing a meeting down in the south of England. (I live in Scotland now, btw. Scotland is not in England.) The man actually used “to fellowship” as a transitive verb:

    If you see anybody who’s new, or on their own, then go over and fellowship them“.

    Yes, it really happened.

  88. Numo – I remember that song coming out.

    (Maybe I could’ve phrased that better.)

    But I promise you it wasn’t quite that kind of meeting…

  89. I suppose I could have compared the use of “impact” as a verb to “fellowship” instead, but … 😀

  90. In the video, about the 2:10 Pastor Lehr gives a reason supporting formal membership which I’d never heard before. Supposedly, in Acts 5:11-13 some were reluctant to “join their group” because of persecution. Implied is that if we don’t “join” ourselves, it may be from fear of persecution. But this is immediately after 2 “members” (Annanias and Sapphira) had been “slain by the Spirit”. KILLED DEAD by God! This was persecution? Fear of man? Or was the fear which came upon the whole church and all who heard these things just maybe the fear of God? Also, this was just BEFORE persecutions began, in v 17 (aside from one night spent in jail by Peter and John). Finally, what was the “group” which “the rest” dared not join? From v12 it could only mean the apostles, or else ALL the believers.
    Interestingly, Vincent’s Word Studies says of the Greek word for “join himself” in v 13: “the word implies a forced, unnatural, or unexpected union.” Just about says it all.

  91. Why do I suspect this will end up presented in a manner that favors the corporation (church) and its leadership and not the consumer (member)?

  92. How do I feel when people disdain, ignore of love-less-than they should my wife?

    Jesus’ bride is the local church, yet many commenters here treat her with a selfish and hard heart.

    Spoiled brats.

  93. Minimuss

    Hmmm? Local Church? My Church? Your Church? Our Church?
    Church membership? Pastoral Staff? Leadership team? Senior pastor?
    Can’t seem to find those terms in my antiquated KJV. 😉

    Sounds like “Traditions of men” that make “Void” “Nullify” the Word of God. Mk 7:13.

    Isn’t it called “The Church of God?”
    Isn’t it Jesus, who will “build” and “add to” “His Church?” His Ekklesia?
    Isn’t it Jesus, who’s the head of the body, (the ekklesia, the called out ones), “The Church?”
    Isn’t it Jesus, who shed “His Blood” to purchase “The Church of God?”

    But, maybe you’re talking about – the church of man?
    “Mere Fallible Humans” go to a secular Government organization, IRS,
    and ask permmision to be called “Church,” you fill out a form, called a 501 (c) 3.

    When/if you’re approved, you become a Gov’t approved, Gov’t inspected,
    501 (c) 3, non-profit, tax $ deductible, Religious $ Corporation. The IRS calls church.

    Does that sound like – the Bride of Christ – In the Bible? Being approved by the IRS?
    Does that sound like “The Church” (People, His body) that we find – In the Bible?

    Did Jesus shed “His Blood” for a building, an organization, an institution,
    a denomination, or, a $ corporation?

    NOPE – Jesus shed His Blood – For His Body – His Church – His Sheep – People.

    Should His Disciples call a $ Corporation – “The Church of God?” AAARRRGGGHH!!
    Should His Disciples call a $ Corporation – “The Bride of Christ?” AAARRRGGGHH!!

    In the Bible – Did anyone – Go to Church? Join a Church? Tithe to a Church? Lead a Church?
    Plant a Church? Apply for membership to a Church? Get ex-communicated from a Church?

    Have you ever wondered about the word – church?
    What it means? And how It’s used? In the Bible?

    Makes an interesting study. 😉
    Love NOT the world and the things of the world…

    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall **hear My voice;**
    and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
    John 10:16

    One Fold – One Shepherd – One Voice

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

  94. Minimuss

    Seems us “Mere Fallible Humans” can’t apply for, or renew, Church Membership in the Bible.

    We have to be born into it – Born again into the Church of God – His Body.

    And it’s – the Holy Spirit – that – Baptizes us – Into The Body.

    1 Cor 12:13-14
    For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body,
    whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free;
    and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
    For the body is not one member, but many.

  95. “Da Lord can open up your eyes as well.”

    Minimuss,

    Spoiled? Jesus has faithfully blessed ma socks off , all ma wee widdle life.

    Thank U, LoRd!

    Jesus’ Brats…   O’ I likez da sound of it!

    “Frankly, Scarlett…

    (grin)

    hahahahahahaha

    S“㋡”py 
    ___
    P.S. Wm. Tyndale used the word ‘congregation’ in place of ‘church’. If memory serves me well, didn’t they straggled him, burnt his body, and threw his remains into the river? 

    But God opened the eyes of the King of England, all da same… 🙂

  96. “Wartburg’s Got The Right Stuff”

    @ Minimuss,

    Wartburg tends to push the envelope a bit, and the air is kinda thin up here.

    I kinda like it.

    But that is just me.

    (grin)

    hahahahahaha

    S“㋡”py 

  97. Pingback: Signing Oaths, Vows and Covenants: Binding the Wills and Consciences of Men « The Reformed Traveler UNITED STATES

  98. I wanted to add this comment to a much older article you had about membership covenants (which are not required by God’s Word the Bible). Perhaps it is still relevant here.

    Why I cannot in good conscience sign a membership covenant or become a member of any church that tends towards demanding membership rather than offering it:

    “To give it a more sophisticated and sanctimonious ring, the obsequious relationship between the subjugated (the sheep) and their subjugator (the shepherd) now is called “covenant relationships.” These “relationships” (if you accept that appellation) in many groups espousing Discipleship/Shepherdship/Covenant doctrines and employing variations of the practices advocated under that teaching are actually codified in the form of a “Covenant Agreement” signed by the subjugated in which the subjugated pledges his eternal oath of allegiance and unquestioned obedience and obeisance, along with his financial support, of course, to his “shepherd.” ”

    http://www.cephasministry.com/shepherding_fab_five.html

  99. Melody

    Thank you for your comment. Yes, memebership covenants are not held in high esteem by your two bloggers in residence (my term for the day). I am getting ready to go on an extended trip. I am prewriting a post about how one is not allowed to leave a church unless it goes against primary doctrine. I don’t think pedophilia coverup fits in his definition of primary issues….

  100. Pastor Lehr makes some great points about church membership and what it entails. Most of the bloggers seem opposed to church membership in general because they don’t see it spelled out in the Bible. When the apostle Paul wrote to the church at Phillipi,Thessalanica,Epehesus,et.al. he was addressing a group of believers which certainly implied some type of gathering of believers which composed the local assembly. Church membership carries with it the idea that one is adhering to a set of biblical principles and saying I agree with these and want to join this particular group. One cannot read Acts 15 and other passages in the NT without seeing that there was a list of people or a local group that composed the “church membership”. It appears to me that many are reacting to the fact that we are to submit to those in authority (Acts 16:4-5).