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Common-Law Members, Part 2

Posted by Matt Postiff February 1, 2012 on Matt Postiff's Blog under Church 

In my experience, people have a few reasons (excuses?) for refusing church membership: 1) A desire not to commit or not to be subjected to certain restrictions or conditions in the church; 2) A bad experience with a previous church; 3) An objection to membership on grounds of principle.

Examples for each case, written from the first person perspective:

1) A church carries a heavy load of debt and I do not want to tie myself into that debt load and ethical responsibility to care for the debt. Or, I feel that certain conditions of membership are too restrictive or legalistic.

2) A previous church in my life burned me when the church went down a wrong path. The church lacked integrity in its selection of a pastor or other business matters. I do not want to be officially associated with or involved in that kind of situation again.

3) I do not believe the New Testament gives explicit instructions about how local church membership is to be done or even that there is such a concept. Or, Once I become a believer, I am automatically a member of the church through which I was saved.

I am not justifying any of these reasons; I'm just saying they are thoughts in people's minds. Maybe the non-member wants the best of both worlds by basically being a member but not committing to membership; or the leadership wants the best of both worlds by counting the person as a member most of the time but when things get difficult they can simply write off the person without any public mention of it. Some of my Baptist readers may be flummoxed by this line of thought, but it is real. If you are a person who grew up in churches that do not have a substantive membership, or do not promote it (ahem, some Bible churches), or if you are very strongly opposed to extra-Biblical structures, you know what I am talking about.

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