Suzanne's Second Estate

A web log of my thoughts, activities, life....

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Common Law Church

I've recently been considering the purpose of church membership. My first membership experience, which happened during college, left a bad taste in my mouth. From today's Boundless article "Common Law Church":
I taught fourth-grade Sunday school at the church for two years. Because the church had thousands of members, the only person who really knew me was the Sunday school superintendent, who met with me monthly. At the end of my service, I graduated from college and moved away. I called the church and explained that I would no longer be a member due to geographic location.

Though I've lived in Colorado for six years, my parents continue to receive mail from this church. After repeated attempts to dis-member myself, I finally gave up. As a result, I viewed membership as an exercise, involving the signing of a doctrinal statement and indelible induction into a database.

Consequently, I was leery of becoming a member at my new church. Because I committed at the level of a member (attended regularly, led a small group, tithed), I didn't see a reason to sign a piece of paper and make it official. After talking with Pastor Mark Dever at New Attitude, I am reconsidering my position. Is it possible that committing to church without that final, binding step of formal membership is a bit like a common law marriage? What does the Body of Christ lose in this scenario? How is my attitude toward the church affected?

The article leaves these questions hanging, but I hope Dever's extreme stance that membership is a biblical mandate will provoke thought. Do you think he has grounds for his conclusion? Are there spiritual benefits only membership can offer? Why is this idea so appealing to our generation?


At 8:41 PM, Blogger Deanna Regina said...

i wouldn't consider dever's stance extreme...maybe in comparison to those whose stance is "it doesn't matter" the idea of "it does" could be considered extreme...dever is passionate for the church- he is passionate that the church be an accurate representation of christ...that is not extreme- it is biblical...have you read any of his books? they are worth the read...

At 9:40 PM, Blogger Suzanne said...


I should have clarified that by "extreme," I meant by the standard set by today's Christian culture. I was not questioning it biblical foundation. I have read the 9Marks Web site but not the book. The commitment required for attendance at CHBC may seem extreme to many believers, but that is not saying that it's wrong. Thanks for your thoughts!

At 12:49 AM, Blogger Songbird said...

Interesting. The body is becoming so disjointed that unity in christ seems to be a thing in the past in some churches. I'm loyal to my home church despite that I'm at college. My friend just talked to me about a dormie who believed all churches are worshipping the same Jesus so he doesn't see the point making one church your only home. I was like what.. He maybe a cool guy but that person needs a reality check. but this isn't uncommon. thanks for the article by the way.


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