“Why bother with church membership?”

I’ve been asked that question on numerous occasions. Sometimes it’s said with genuine curiosity–“So explain to me what membership is all about.” Other times it’s said with a tinge of suspicion–“So tell me again, why do you think I should become a member?”–as if joining the church automatically signed you up to tithe by direct deposit.

For many Christians membership sounds stiff, something you have at your bank or the country club, but too formal for the church. Even if it’s agreed that Christianity is not a lone ranger religion, that we need community and fellowship with other Christians, we still bristle at the thought of officially joining a church. Why all the hoops? Why box the Holy Spirit into member/non-member categories? Why bother joining a local church when I’m already a member of the universal Church?

I’ve found that some people just won’t be convinced of church membership no matter what you say or how many times “member” actually shows up in the New Testament. But many people have not given serious thought to church membership. They are open to hearing the justification for something they’ve not thought much about.

Here are just a few reasons why church membership matters.

1. In joining a church you make visible your commitment to Christ and his people. Membership is one way to raise the flag of faith. You state before God and others that you are part of this local body of believers. It’s easy to talk in glowing terms about the invisible church–the body of all believers near and far, living and dead–but it’s in the visible church that God expects you to live out your faith.

Sometimes I think that we wouldn’t all be clamoring for community if we had actually experienced it. Real fellowship is hard work, because most people are a lot like us–selfish, petty, and proud. But that’s the body God calls us to.

How many of Paul’s letters were written to individuals? Only a handful, and these were mostly to pastors. The majority of his letters were written to a local body of believers. We see the same thing in Revelation. Jesus spoke to individual congregations in places like Smyrna, Sardis, and Laodicea. The New Testament knows no Christians floating around in “just me and Jesus” land. Believers belong to churches.

2. Making a commitment makes a powerful statement in a low-commitment culture. Many bowling leagues require more of their members than our churches. Where this is true, the church is a sad reflection of its culture. Ours is a consumer culture were everything is tailored to meet our needs and satisfy our preferences. When those needs aren’t met, we can always move on to the next product, or job, or spouse.

Joining a church in such an environment makes a counter-cultural statement. It says “I am committed to this group of people and they are committed to me. I am here to give, more than get.”

Even if you will only be in town for a few years, it’s still not a bad idea to join a church. It lets your home church (if you are a student) know that you are being cared for, and it lets your present know that you want to be cared for here.

But it’s not just about being cared for, it’s about making a decision and sticking with it–something my generation, with our oppressive number of choices, finds difficult. We prefer to date the church–have her around for special events, take her out when life feels lonely, and keep her around for a rainy day. Membership is one way to stop dating churches, and marry one (see Joshua Harris’ excellent book along these lines).

3. We can be overly independent. In the West, it’s one of the best and worst thing about us. We are free spirits and critical thinkers. We get an idea and run with it. But whose running with us? And are any of us running in the same direction? Membership states in a formal way, “I am part of something bigger than myself. I am not just one of three hundred individuals. I am part of a body.”

4. Church membership keeps us accountable. When we join a church we are offering ourselves to one another to be encouraged, rebuked, corrected, and served. We are placing ourselves under leaders and submitting to their authority (Heb. 13:7). We are saying, “I am here to stay. I want to help you grow in godliness. Will you help me to do the same?”

Mark Dever, in his book Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, writes,

Church membership is our opportunity to grasp hold of each other in responsibility and love. By identifying ourselves with a particular church, we let the pastors and other members of that local church know that we intend to be committed in attendance, giving, prayer, and service. We allow fellow believers to have great expectations of us in these areas, and we make it known that we are the responsibility of this local church. We assure the church of our commitment to Christ in serving with them, and we call for their commitment to serve and encourage as well.

5. Joining the church will help your pastor and elders be more faithful shepherds. Hebrews 13:7 says “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority.” That’s your part as “laypeople”. Here’s our part as leaders: “They keep watch over you as men who must give an account.” As a pastor I take very seriously my responsibility before God to watch care for souls. At almost every elders’ meeting, as per our denomination’s Book of Church Order, we “seek to determine whether any members of the congregation are in need of special care regarding their spiritual condition and/or not making faithful use of the means of grace.” This is hard enough to do in a church like ours where there is constant turnover, but it’s even harder when we don’t know who is really a part of this flock.

To give just one example, we try to be diligent in following up with people who haven’t been at our church for a while. This is a challenge. But if you never become a member, we can’t tell if you are really gone, because we might not be sure if you were ever here! It’s nearly impossible for the elders to shepherd the flock when they don’t know who really considers them their shepherds.

6. Joining the church gives you an opportunity to make promises. When someone become a member at University Reformed Church, he makes promises to pray, give, serve, attend worship, accept the spiritual guidance of the church, obey its teachings, and seek the things that make for unity, purity, and peace. We ought not to make these promises lightly. They are solemn vows. And we must hold each other to them. If you don’t join the church, you miss an opportunity to publicly make these promises, inviting the elders and the rest of the body to hold you to these promises–which would be missing out on great spiritual benefit, for you, your leaders, and the whole church.

Membership matters more than most people think. If you really want to be a counter-cultural revolutionary, sign up for the membership class and join your local church.

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Comments:


38 thoughts on “Why Membership Matters”

  1. andrewchesebro says:

    "Ours is a consumer culture were everything is tailored to meet our needs and satisfy our preferences. When those needs aren’t met, we can always move on to the next product, or job, or spouse."

    Yeah, it's a really slippery slope, and I definitely agree that often our desire for comfort is far greater than our willingness to take on commitment. This seems really similar to some of your points in JDS. I think it's good for Christians/men/Americans to be challenged to make decisions and commitments.

  2. 21centPilgrim says:

    The 6 points listed are more pragmatic than clearly derived from scriptue. In fact you can fullfill all 6 without church membership.

  3. Andrew Faris says:

    Kevin,

    21cent is right- you've really not made much of a Scriptural case here at all.

    I am 25 and now an associate pastor at a church that has membership. I'd never been at a church before this in my life that even had membership. And yet I never felt a lack of really any of these things.

    That's because I was, in fact, a "member" of my old church without actually being titled as such. The people knew I was a member because I showed up on Sundays, ministered with them throughout the week, spent time in various forms of fellowship with them, and so on. Just no title.

    Which leads me to the question I've always had with membership: even if you see membershipish things in the NT, do you see something called "membership" more officially? I'm not sure you do. But then, I'm not that sure you don't either.

    So maybe what you need to is define what membership is/should be, how you get there from Scripture, and how that is different from the less formal membership that I described.

    Andrew Faris
    Christians in Context

  4. Jugulum says:

    No, Kevin did not make a direct Scriptural case; he made a pragmatic case.

    Or, to put it another way: He made a case that membership is wise, good, & beneficial, and that it does well at fulfilling some Biblical principles for church involvement.

    Andrew: Sure, some more work could be put into expositing the Biblical principles that formal membership is aimed at fulfilling. But there's also a place for assuming some things–for instance, Kevin really didn't need to add a reference to 1 Cor 12, when he said in #3, "I am part of a body."

    However, your suggestion is certainly good for any pastor seeking to introduce formal membership at a church. The right way to introduce the idea is to preach on the meaning of church, and the kind of involvement to which we're called. If formal membership is a good tool, that's how the congregation will see it.

  5. Jugulum says:

    P.S. It's also good to note that formal membership lists are pragmatic/wisdom-based instead of direct Biblical requirements, because it puts the discussion on the right grounds.

    1.) Formal membership lists can be a lazy replacement for pursuit of meaningful involvement. If we're going to avoid that, they need to be part of a general, active pursuit of meaningful involvement. The vision needs to be maintained, and people need to be constantly called to real, committed, sacrificial ministry & relationships. That's where the focus should be–not on the idea of lists.

    2.) Evaluating the wisdom of formal membership lists needs to include discussion of potential negative effects. (e.g., inappropriate exclusivism)

    3.) If memberships lists turn out to be a nice (but actually ineffectual) thought, with negative unintended consequences, then they shouldn't be adopted. That's the kind of question we should be asking.

    4.) Because it is a pragmatic issue, it might turn out that different congregations in different situations and different cultures should do different things. "I've seen it work well" or "I've seen it do harm" doesn't end the discussion. Maybe the formal lists are more helpful in some contexts than in others, and maybe they have more negative impacts in some contexts than in others.

  6. Arthur Sido says:

    I would echo some of what is listed above. Not only are the reasons listed not based in Scripture, they are in fact easily (and perhaps better) fulfilled without the false assurance of a formalized membership. That is the big weakness in "Why We Love the Church". None of the defenses of the institutional church really require the institutional church at all. A valiant effort but ultimately the formal membership tradition we inherited has a lot more in common with Rome than it does with the New Testament church.

  7. Dave Sarafolean says:

    Brothers,

    While the author's list is somehat pragmatic consider this answer to the question of church membership from the Westminster Larger Catechism:

    "Question 45: How does Christ execute the office of a king?

    Answer: Christ executes the office of a king, in calling out of the world a people to himself, and giving them officers, laws, and censures, by which he visibly governs them…"

    Church membership fleshes out one's submission to Christ's present reign in this world. To profess faith in Christ and then reject His means of governing His people in this age is an oxymoron. Thus Christ reigns His people through the fallible institution of the visible church.

  8. mgpcpastor says:

    To my reading Kevin's post identifies six areas of benefit that arise when individuals make a public promise to commit themselves to work in community with a particular group of fellow Christians as a local church for the purpose of the Gospel.
    Lack of proof texts is not the same thing as lacking a basis in Scripture.
    The opportunity for public professions identifying oneself with God's people or affirming faith in Christ and partnership with His people are evident in the communities of God's people in the Scripture.
    There are also times when damaging, abusive, manipulative and unrepentently sinful personalities are denied validity within the local church. (Excommunicated, if you will)
    I am encouraged that his desired outcomes are recognised as being biblical. (I think)
    My experience of local church membership involves profession or re-affirmation of personal faith, recognition of local leadership and committment to mutual partnership.
    I don't read in the above posts any sense that accountability, recognising leadership and mutual partnership is not biblical, so I'm not accusing anyone of promoting anarchy or being unbiblical by their comments.
    But how can a mutual understanding of personal faith, recognition of local leadership and the desire to work in partnership with a local church be more easily achieved than standing in front of everyone and promising it?

  9. Daniel says:

    It has been pointed out that these are pragmatic and not Scriptural arguments for membership. I would add that there are pragmatic reasons for not formally joining.

    I have never been a formal member of a church, but my wife and I have been attending a church since we moved here nine months ago, and it has been a true blessing. If ever I would consider formal membership, it would be here. So I was hoping to see some Scriptural arguments for membership. As good as these reasons may be pragmatically , I do not think they overcome pragmatic reasons against joining.

    As others have said, each of the reasons given can be equally or even better fulfilled without membership.

  10. Nils says:

    I have a number of friends who have chosen not to get married because they feel they can better achieve and fulfil the goals of marriage, without jinxing it in formality. Membership may not be in the same category as marriage (one being far more Scripturally explicit), but the "I can do all these things without formally joining a church" argument sounds very similar to no marriage argument. And in my view it strengthens Kevin's arguments here. Even without direct Scriptural mandate (although I think there is a Scriptural mandate), why wouldn't you want to formally commit to the loving Christian community you call your family? Could it be that our desire for an open backdoor and our STARBO attitude (Subject To A Better Offer) are being shown up here?

  11. Adam says:

    Arthur Sido wrote "A valiant effort but ultimately the formal membership tradition we inherited has a lot more in common with Rome than it does with the New Testament church."

    What does this statement even mean? That anything Roman Catholics do is supposed to be treated as evil and wrong?? Lets remember what the purpose of the new testament scriptures being written down was for. They weren't written down to lay out a map for how Church worship is supposed to go. If that was its purpose, there wouldn't be so many factions found in the Church today. They were written down to correct certain issues that needed correcting. Just because something isn't in the Holy Scriptures doesn't mean it shouldn't be done. The Scriptures don't even tell us that everything we need to believe is found in them. I know first hand that "Rome" Worships Christ just as much as any reformed person/church does. I think it would be good to learn what they believe and why they believe it because otherwise you are just being ignorant of the facts and hostile towards fellow believers which I am pretty sure Christ condemns.

    Love your posts Kevin and glad to see someone who seeks Truth wherever he can find it rather than berrating anyone who disagrees with you.

  12. Hayden says:

    For all those who think that Kevin didn't make a Scriptural case,

    Remember, he wrote a book about it! This is a small article.

    (I know that you didn't like the book Art, I have seen your many reviews anytime the book is mentioned. :–)

  13. Erik says:

    Nils,

    I like your line of thinking:

    "Even without direct Scriptural mandate (although I think there is a Scriptural mandate), why wouldn't you want to formally commit to the loving Christian community you call your family?"

    If you're going to put your roots down for a lengthy amount of time, why not commit to being a member?

  14. 21centPilgrim says:

    The instructions of Christ for his disciples to make disciples and teach them all things that Christ has commanded is a beautiful command. I just believe that formal church membership is outside of the commands of Christ and not clearly taught in the rest of the NT, while baptism obviously is. This does not mean that it is evil or a bad thing, but to subject believers to a nonessential of scripture is not wise.

    Nils said
    "I have a number of friends who have chosen not to get married because they feel they can better achieve and fulfil the goals of marriage, without jinxing it in formality. Membership may not be in the same category as marriage (one being far more Scripturally explicit), but the "I can do all these things without formally joining a church" argument sounds very similar to no marriage argument. And in my view it strengthens Kevin's arguments here."

    A very week argument if I may be so blunt. Fulfilling and achieving the goals of marriage apart from formal marriage is blatant sin. Fulfilling and achieving the goals of membership apart from formal membership is clearly not blatant sin.

    Someone who objects to official membership may have issues regarding authority and submission, but they also may just have a conscious that objects on biblical grounds. Can we be ok with that?

  15. Denis says:

    A few posters have suggested, or at least implied, there are benefits or even Biblical grounds for not becoming a formal member of a church.

    Working on the assumption one attends a church that has a membership process, what are the pragmatic reasons for not being a church member? Or, to paraphrase Jugulum above, in what way is abstaining from church membership wise, good, & beneficial in helping us fulfill some Biblical principles.

    And I do write this as one who is very much involved in the church I have attend for over 9 years, but have not yet submitted to the membership process.

  16. Jugulum says:

    Denis,

    That's an interesting way to put it. But I'm not sure you're correct about what "a few posts" were suggesting or implying. (You could be, but I want to offer another possibility.)

    There's a significant difference between a church deciding "Should we have formal membership lists?" on the one hand, and on the other, a church-goer deciding "Am I going to add my name to the membership list of the church I'm committed to?"

    To illustrate: I suspect that a formal membership process is a good thing, but I'm not fully decided on it. But suppose I concluded that they're a bad idea. What would I do as a result? If I were planting a church, I wouldn't institute membership lists. But if I were part of a church that had them, I would still formally join–and I would propose to the leadership that we should get rid of them.

    It's one thing to have concerns with the idea of a church having membership lists. It's another to reject the decision of the church you're part of.

    Also: The question isn't whether we should be committed to a particular congregation. The question isn't whether we should do more than "attend" church. The question isn't whether we need to submit to the leadership of our church. The question isn't whether we should be rooted in one spot. The question isn't whether we should be true members of a particular body. It's whether a church should have a formal process of declaring membership, with lists of people who've gone through it.

    If the detractors of membership aren't keeping the questions distinct, then they should, and the reminder is good. But the proponents of membership shouldn't assume that their opponents are rejecting submission to authority, or commitment to a particular church.

  17. clayjarspeaking says:

    Another good piece on the issue of membership, Kevin. I really appreciate what you are doing and saying for Christ's church through your blog and writings (both your "church" books with Ted Kluck are superb).

  18. DrewK says:

    Good discussion. Timely for me personally. I have been both a formal member and not.(Churches that had no such practice). Trying to decide which in a current situation. Do not think this is a dogmatic issue. "If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God."
    1 Cor. 11:16(ESV)
    Go ahead and tell me this is out of context. I still think it applicable.

  19. Erik says:

    Sounds like 21centPilgrim is just looking for a debate. ;)

  20. Denis says:

    Jugulum,

    Thank you for your thoughts. It is entirely possible I've misunderstood some of the other posters here and am looking at some of the arguments from an incorrect perspective (any additional correction is welcome!).

    If I am understanding you correctly, you are saying that this debate (membership vs. non-membership) is exclusively one about what a local church, as a corporate body, should do. Then, at the individual level, we should simply submit to what the body we are apart of has decided to implement (or not, as the case may be).

    In other words, I guess I'm asking your thoughts on this question: should we be deciding if we will become members based on our own preferences, or should we become members, regardless of our personal inclinations, if our home church has formal membership?

    If I'm reading you correctly, your answer would be we should become members regardless.

    Thoughts?

  21. Jugulum says:

    Denis,

    Perhaps I shouldn't say that the debate is exclusively about what a local church should do–but we should start there. And usually, that's where people are aiming their objections to membership. When people say, "Membership is a bad idea", they mean churches shouldn't have formal membership lists.

    Because this is a separate question: "Should you submit to the way that your church handles membership, even if you disagree with it?"

    And yes, you're reading me right–I would answer that question with a "yes, you should od it their way". (1) The church isn't asking you to do something that you're convinced is sinful. (2) Even if the opponents of membership lists are right about the unintended side-effects, they seem to be general, institutional side-effects of having membership lists–not side-effects of individuals joining the list.

    Maybe someone could come up with a reason to "conscientiously object", but I don't see one. (Though if your church effectively ignores the membership list, even though they technically have it, then it matters less.)

  22. Denis says:

    Jugulum,

    Thanks for the additional thoughts.

    Regarding the role of the individual, I would tend to agree with you (though with an uncomfortable self-awareness of personal hypocrisy).

    For those of you who were arguing against the idea of formal membership here, if you are still around, would you agree with this? Just curious.

    Thanks.

  23. Jugulum says:

    Good question.

    P.S. I specifically had Dave Sarafolean's comment in mind when I made these distinctions. Talking about rejecting Christ's means of governing his people is a significant mis-characterization. He thinks people are arguing with commitment to a particular congregation and submission to church leadership & discipline. But that doesn't seem to be what the objections are aimed at.

  24. Josh Gelatt says:

    Adam,

    I think you misread the intent of Arthur Sido's post. He wasn't "Catholic bashing", nor was he indicating that just because something is practiced by the Catholic church it is inherently evil. His point, rather, was the the practice of church membership has its roots in the Christendom-ideology of the Catholic church rather than the organic Jesus-community of the New Testament. Now this point can be debated, of course, but it does have merit (even if it is perhaps incomplete in its assessment).

    I was very surprised by your tone and comments. Accusing Arthur of peddling "ignorant facts" and being "hostile towards fellow believers" is to read ugliness into what was a rather innocent historical statement. The only ignorance and hostility I sensed was from you, not him (I do mean that in love, and am not trying to accuse—but for future reference it would be wiser to ask Arthur about what he intended to imply about Catholics rather than simply assigning to him motives). Also, even if Arthur meant to denounce Catholic theology, is it not possible to denounce a theological system yet simultaneously recognize the presence of genuine believers within that system?

    With all that said, I would agree that just because Scripture doesn't command something (or even mention it) that doesn't mean we are prohibited from doing it. I have no problem with pastors urging church membership. Particularly in a Congregational style church government it is a logical necessity. But, I would still maintain that there are better eccesiological structures that achieve the church-membership proponents are looking for without the awkwardness of resorting to this concept.

  25. Josh Gelatt says:

    Adam,

    I wanted to treat one comment of yours distinctly. You wrote: "The Scriptures don't even tell us that everything we need to believe is found in them."

    I think you would find the entire Protestant world in sharp disagreement with that statement. Of course, when it comes to non-faith issues you are clearly right. We don't turn to scripture to learn about math or science. But in regards to knowledge of God, His holy will for our lives, and his pattern for the church, the Protestant church would affirm sola scriptura (by Scripture alone).

    The only knowledge of God found outside of scripture is general revelation, which is vague and nondescript.

    However, if by that statement you meant that we are allowed–on the basis of Scriptural teaching–to discern things and make wise choices when new situations confront us—then I would agree. I think there is flexibility for the church to do new things and use new structures (insofar as we still operate within the principles clearly laid out in scripture and do not go against clear teaching and practice of the Bible). So, if membership if viewed as a pragmatic necessity (i.e. a wise choice made out of godly discernment) in order to achieve biblical practices in a modern context (such as the ability to practice church disciple and discipleship), then there is room for healthy discussion and debate on that subject.

    But, the scriptures clearly do tell us everything we need to believe about faith and the church. The real issue is discerning whether our practices adhere to Scripture–even when we feel we must be a bit creative.

  26. Mary says:

    Is marriage a state governace item where little more than a piece of paper is issued to designate a relationship or is it a religious covenant between two people along witnessed by a community of people who are there to support the couple and provide accountability?

    If membership is the equivalent of a marriage certificate issued by the state, then I find no biblical basis. However, if membership is somehting where the "body" makes an equal commitment to support and hold the "member" accountable that is another. Committing to a church in my mind means I expect an equivalent commitment from the body of the church to me as well.

    Speaking about this as a one sided thing where we commit to "church" as an institution definitely has benefits for the institution (record keeping, etc). If we truly speak of this in terms of a commitment to a relationship, then we need to ensure commitment from both sides of the relationship, else we are little more than objects.

  27. Gary says:

    I don't see church membership as wrong, but don't see it as necessary or taught in scripture either.

    So, I have a question. I am a member of the body of Christ, really the only "church" taught in the New Testament. Can I be a member of two or more church bodies?

    I attend an Assemblies of God on Sunday mornings, a home church meeting on a week night every week, and also often attend another church that meets on Saturday evenings.

    How does membership fit into that picture?

  28. Dave says:

    I’m getting a little tired of the old tired out reasoning for church membership. Formal signing of church membership and a constitution like they all have is not in the scriptures. The references to member is of the body of Christ. We are married to Him not the church as many leaders would have you believe. I’m not going to put God in that small of a box. If he wants to move me so be it. Membership is basically advantageous to the leadership in my opinion as it maintains a regular source of giving and it gives more control of leadership over people’s lives. It allows leadership to make changes without consulting the body. It gives them disciplinary control over people as well. Not that the Bible does that already!As far as the early church goes-their particular fellowships were the only game in town. They didn’t have a choice to go here or go there. I’ve been on both sides of isle now and will not go back to formal signed membership again unless God directly tells me to. I have heard this from numerous others as well.

  29. Amy says:

    Instead of church membership rituals, what if we shared a brief testimony of how we came to know Jesus Christ? The gospel is what unites us together as one and testimonies are so encouraging to one another.

  30. Kirby Hopper says:

    1. “In joining a church you make visible your commitment to Christ and his people.” – Official church membership is a poor way to do that. The BEST way to make visible your commitment to Christ and his people, is to actually be committed to Christ and his people. Going through a membership class and signing on the dotted line means nothing. Actually being committed means everything.

    2. “Making a commitment makes a powerful statement in a low-commitment culture.” – We don’t need powerful statements, we need actual commitment. Most of the pew-warmers in churches that stress official membership are official members. Their “powerful statement” when they officially joined the church means nothing.

    3. “We can be overly independent.” – Yes, and official church membership does nothing to remedy this. Either having it or the member becoming a member if a church has it.

    4. “Church membership keeps us accountable.” – An official church member can be just as unaccountable as anyone else. Church membership does not make people accountable.

    5. “Joining the church will help your pastor and elders be more faithful shepherds.” “But if you never become a member, we can’t tell if you are really gone, because we might not be sure if you were ever here! It’s nearly impossible for the elders to shepherd the flock when they don’t know who really considers them their shepherds.” – Pastors in churches that don’t have a membership do this by actually getting to know the people in their congregation. If the church membership is all that you have to go by to determine if a parishioner is “actually there” then you have a dysfunctional church where the elders don’t know the people.

    6. “Joining the church gives you an opportunity to make promises. When someone become a member at University Reformed Church, he makes promises to pray, give, serve, attend worship, accept the spiritual guidance of the church, obey its teachings, and seek the things that make for unity, purity, and peace.” – Again, do we want promises or do we want action? Does coercing a promise out of someone who doesn’t have it on their heart to do it make them do it? Experience tells us no, and furthermore, do we really want action that isn’t motivated by a heart to do it? If someone has a heart to be “members one of another” they are going to do it, whether officially a church member or not.

    I’ve been to many churches in my 36 years as an adult Christian. The two churches that had the most committed members and lived out what the bible teaches about everything promoted in this article were the two churches that didn’t have an official membership. What does that tell you about the efficacy of official church membership?

    Sadly, the author of this article misses the point and is trying to substitute church membership for having the real deal, a body of believers that actually functions as a body. The early church not only survived but thrived without church memberships. We need to figure out how they did it and return to the “faith once and for all delivered to the saints”.

  31. Casey Sabella says:

    Interesting discussion. If we want to be strictly biblical, everyone needs to abandon their church names and organizations as nothing of the sort is mentioned in scripture. I also think we should get rid of deacons, because, after all, Jesus said nothing about them. Dump the worship service, instruments, church budgets and board mtgs for the same reason.
    On the other hand, as I read the book, there appears to be leeway in how we collect talents before the master returns. He tells his servants to increase their investment, but gives them no specifics as to how.
    I think the only question (sorry biblical literalists) appropriate to ask is: Does membership in our particular setting help us be more effective in the culture we are attempting to reach? After 40 years in this “business” I am concluding that the issue is congregation-specific and not able to be universally applied.

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (RCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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