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..."