I’ve written that my wife and I and family have been at a new church since Easter. I’ve posted a sermon or two. Ive written that I ran smack into some male supplicants at a seminar called 33, and that we joined a small group where a woman badly disrespects her husband openly, while he is the supposed leader of the group, and a Vietnam Veteran and retired commercial pilot. Ive written about the expository preaching that I like so much, and how the church is smallish and not prone (yet) to churchianity, indeed openly using that term derisively from the pulpit.
Well, today we started the obligatory new member orientation. Its shocking how solid this church seems on things.
Without apology or equivocation they spoke of church discipline, of male headship, and of what I wanted to describe here as covenant membership. What this means is they will throw people out, and they have done so. They follow the redemptive model of church correction, they do not give up easily, but when push comes to shove, they will not have the body corrupted. So, they excommunicate so to speak.
The result I can see at this early date is that the class we took today was a vetting. I’d wager that half or more who attended will not be back. I can probably tell you which ones.
They asked us, “how did you end up here?”. Around he room it went. There were maybe 12 couples. I heard one woman say she had 2 kids, she was a college student (no ring) and she was looking for a good place for the kiddos. Another said she liked the location. yet another said they were running from what she called a “too conservative church”. yet another women said her husband died 6 years ago, and she had her two boys with her in the room. I bet she stays.
Invariably people answer that question with programs and promises. Later, as they heard about the commitment, it may have seemed like the church was going to ask a lot of them! Whoa…..
It seemed too harsh, expecting too much from people. hence, the church boasts a whopping 260 covenant members, and it is 7 years old. I’m not a creed maker or church worshiper. Far from it. But I am liking this way of doing church very much and am looking forward to my increased involvement. I have not felt this way about corporate gatherings in a long time. I am hopeful. I don’t get that a lot when it comes to things like the church.
I am a firm believer in being in a church as part of our Christian experience, I believe it is prescribed biblically, if not explicitly. Because it is actually more than explicitly prescribed. It is presumed. Whole chapters make no sense if we exclude the necessity of church. This puts The Personal Jesus in a new light. That is a good thing.