Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile, whose posts over at Pure Church are invariably full of interesting, often surprising, insights into the nature of the church, has hit one out of the park (ahem… “mixaphorically speaking”) with his latest.
Ever felt frustrated by the folks in your church who claim they can’t see the need, biblically or otherwise, to be joined to the local body? Pastor T advises:
At bottom mutual belonging in a family (or, local church membership if you will) rests on three things:1. Recognition of a person’s new humanity (being a part of the universal church[…]) by a credible testimony of faith and conversion;2. Recognition by the family (the local church) of a desire, responsibility, and commitment to care for an individual as one of its own in a continuing relationship; and3. Recognition by the individual of a desire, responsibility, and commitment to care for and participate in the life of the entire family (the local church).
When these things are present, we can say the “switch” of mutual belonging has been flipped.
He goes on:
The critical thing is how explicit the [membership] process is in aiding the three recognitions we mentioned earlier: credible profession of faith; commitment of the church to the individual; and commitment of the individual to the church.Being unclear at any of those points will have weakening effects on the local church and perhaps the individual. This is why claimants who say “we can do these same things with our friends down the street and not join the church” almost always drift toward spiritual decay rather than spiritual vibrancy.
But being careful and clear, helps each member of the family to grow in its relationships with the other members and with Christ Jesus.
I can hardly express what a helpful, insightful blog Pastor Thabiti’s is. Please, do yourself a favor and bookmark it for your ongoing edification!! And allow your reading to build your anticipation of hearing his heart in person at the upcoming Together for the Gospel conference.