One of our energized discussions at church this weekend revolved around the concept of membership. We were aware that, even in a house church that does not have formal "membership," it's still possible to develop a subtle sense of "we" as opposed to "them." We can find ourselves thinking that we are part of "this" church or "this kind of church" which becomes, in a sense, an informal membership badge. There is such a nasty little thing in each of us that seeks to be part of something "special." We want a place to belong, a people to belong to, so we create unhealthy we-them-isms so that we can enjoy being the "we."
We decided that we wanted to be intentional about living and declaring a primary loyalty to the Body of Christ, not to any sub-group of the church. It's not that we were promoting something else; we just realized that if we were not purposeful in this area, the tendency, even for organic house churches, is to drift into forms of worldly loyalty. We determined to actively and purposefully promote a THE church perspective rather than an OUR church one.
So... as a starting point... I have a tentative "membership" statement to offer. It's in rough form, but it may be something to build on as a tool for intentionally training ourselves and others in "membership":
• We affirm that we are, first and foremost, members of the one, true, universal church of Jesus Christ, also known as the Body of Christ. We affirm that we (as Christians) are members of the church and that no other membership is necessary. (Eph. 3:4-5)
• We believe that the way Christianity is sometimes practiced today leads to worldly loyalties that can create unhealthy division and disharmony within the Body of Christ. We affirm that God wants the church to rise above man-made affinities. (1 Cor. 1:12-13)
• We believe that Christians are to gather together for prayer, building one another up, breaking bread, and worship as often as possible. We affirm all types of such gatherings regardless of size, location, or who is present. We recognize that technology has broadened the possibilities for alternate ways to gather. (Acts 2:46-47)
• We affirm the validity of every church expression and gathering without giving higher regard to any one type of gathering, time of gathering, place of gathering, or who is “officiating” (if anyone). (Eph. 4:25; 1 Cor. 14:26)
I recognize that this is just a starting point. But I think it's a useful dialogue. Suggestions?
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