Tuesday, May 9, 2006


I ran across these comments on membership and baptism. How would you respond.
"I was thinking of an experience I had at the MB when I first came. Someone mentioned a Christmas banquet, and I thought, oh, that sounds interesting. I'll go buy a ticket. When I went to get my ticket, I was asked which table I wanted to sit at. Which table? I had no idea! Were there differences in the tables? NO, you just had to pick which one you wanted to be at. Well.... all of a sudden, this became a HUGE issue. Could I join just any table? Should I see where friends were sitting? Did you need to be invited to join a table? Suddenly, the whole issue of going to the banquet became a problem. I couldn't just go, and sit wherever there was space. I had to decide before I signed up, where I would sit if I signed up. YIKES! That just about scared me off completely. I helped organize a couple Christmas banquets after that, but in spite of my input, I was never able to convince the rest of the committee that reserved seating was not mandatory. Somewhere where people sat was almost more important than that they came at all.
I though too of that in relation to being baptized and joining THE church, versus A branch of that church. I think that sometimes the branches of the church get in the way of the reality that it is but one church. Signing up for the banquet of Christ suddenly becomes an issue of 'which table will you sit at'? Young people have to choose which church they will be baptized in, join, be part of, etc, often before they really have any sense of what others stand for. It just gets more complicated than it needs to be. Sometimes we forget that the church is far bigger and grander than any of our minute imaginations or demonstrations of it.
...If the larger denomination makes a decision that the indiv congregations, or the individual members of those congregations, don't support, what then? Do they just break away (individually or as congregations) and go on their own, as has happened in many circles? Or, does the congregation ignore the 'ruling'? Or, do those members who don't like it simply leave, or ??????
I guess the whole thing makes me tired. I think we often have missed the point....The answer, I think, is to strive to be faithful to serving in the congregations and communities where we are. We need to be willing to be part of an extremely imperfect body of believers. Some time ago I gave up the search for the perfect church, since I realized that when I found it, I would not be allowed to join. End of search..."


Jan said...

So what if you CHOOSE not to go the banquet at all and "celebrate" on your own, so to speak?

Why is it that someone has to affiliate themselves with a certian sect (for lack of the right word) such as Lutheran, Menonite (spelling sorry), evangelical and on and on?

Which one of these was Jesus and/or His prophets?

mark said...

Now I know at least three pastors are going to read this. Two of them I know pretty well. I just want to say that my tone might seem I'm angry, but I really am not.

I'm not really keane on the idea of putting membership and baptism tied together. I think this may be one reason why some people (especially younger) choose not to become baptized and that we are scaring them from expressing what really matters or is on thier heart. What really matters is that Jesus is our personal saviour. Then the church comes along and slips the membership card in as a requirement. It seems like this is forced on to baptism canidates...they have no other option. Now why should someone who hasn't grown up in church all thier life, but wants to be baptized, and doesn't feel comfortable becoming a member, be forced into becoming a member just so that they can declare that they accept what Jesus did for them and experience baptism. Why can't we go back to the good old days and meet at the Old Man River. Are we in a sense twisting what Jesus commanded us to do? Or why should a teenager who knows they have accepted Christ, but not entirely what thier church is doing, still be forced to accept membership. Should they have to wait till they settle down and find a church they like before becoming baptized. What ever happened to just letting people come forward and saying I love what Jesus did for me and this is what he has done for me? I think we are in a sense taking away/happering the initial raw power that can be experienced when we see someone accepting Jesus. Why do we risk delaying this by having someone contemplate if they want to be a member. I think congregation membership is something that can be built after the fact, not on the day that you accept Christ into your heart. Now I understand the importance of membership and being a member. Its what keeps the church running. People who love the church they attend are always willing to serve and devote time to singing, playing instruments, reading scripture and helping out in all the programs. But I think loving people and loving Jesus comes first. After that, then we can start becoming a family and adding in new members.

Incoming... said...

i can totally understand why people would CHOOSE not to go to the banquet. The idea of celebrating on your own makes alot of sense if the dominant pciture of the church is negative or just a dried out institution. Why bother getting mixed up in all the politics that goes along with joining that kind of banquet - the pay of seems marginal at best.
About the best reason i can give anyone for hooking themselves into into any church is that hopefully they can see it as an opportunity to get involved in the greatest cause of all. the reason that i still identify with the church is becuase i still believe that the church is the hope to help the world get on the right track. By being a part of the church I am signing on to the greatest mission on earth. When I read the New Testament it seems to me like being a beleiver and being part of a local church are almost inseperable ideas. Kinda like you couldn't be one without the other.
But when I read the comments this woman wrote I can totally see how people could get pretty frustrated with he church. and to be honest there are lots of times when i feel the same way.
i don't know maybe that is a start...

Incoming... said...

the other thing that both you and jan raise if the issue of denominations. the plain simple fact is that most people couldn't tell you what makes one denomination different from the other. there are important differences to be sure but if no one can tell the difference then it is easy to see how useless they can all seem. I firmly believe that denominations have doine more damage to the church in the long run than any good they might have done.
Mark you raise some totally valid points. Whole point of baptism was/is a symbolic act that identifies you with Jesus and his body - the church. Back when baptism was first practiced the commitment level was really high. You could get killed for identifying with Jesus and his followers. so baptism was an act of solidarity. I think the problems you raise are legit because they show us how the church has sort become more like a club than the revolutionary movement it was intended to be.

Balmy Eva said...

remember way back in whatever century it was when we left the catholic church?? they seem to be improving their policies...that would solve your denomination problem. In addition, it would provide you with a global leader and institution - and hopefully get away from leadership by the masses. Sure there is potential for some corruption, but thats far worse than the sheep leading the way I worship. lousy sheep. I'll see you all at mass.