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Archive for the ‘Church Membership’ Category

My dad is not a severe man but growing up in his house, there were severe consequences for not listening to what he told me to do. And listening in our house was clearly defined as doing what Dad (or Mom) told us to do.

That story is familiar to most of us – it’s how we grew up and how we run our house now as parents. Chaos is avoided by clear instruction and willing obedience. Life quickly runs amok when parents fail to lay down expectations with laser-like precision and children act like their ears are clogged with silly putty and keep watching the TV when they should be throwing their empty juice box in the trash.

So on one level we understand the story of Achan in Joshua 7. Anyone who has read from Genesis 1 and survived Leviticus is well aware that God has told the nation of Israel (and by proxy the rest of the nations as well) that they need to follow God if they want to live. The demands and expectations that are clearly laid out bring blessing when obeyed – and are met with swift and severe justice when they are ignored.

Achan gets the death penalty for disobeying God. We struggle with the sentence because the punishment doesn’t fit the crime – he took the equivalent of a pair of blue jeans and a few dollars off the dresser. But the crime is not the amount taken or the theft itself – it is Achan’s willing insubordination to a clear command from God that leads to his execution.

I get that – tough to swallow but I understand the need to both set an example and to protect an entire nation from itself. This is apples-spoiling-bunches kind of stuff. Where I really struggle in this story is with the matter-of-fact way in which the narrator of Achan’s story passes along the information that Achan’s family (‘sons and daughters’ – v 24) is executed with him.

Such actions cut against modern sensibilities and in the end expose a latent and unhealthy individualism. While God does not always punish children for the crimes of their parents – or bring hardship on an entire nation for the crimes of their leaders or fellow countrymen – there are times like the events of Joshua 7 when we’re reminded that our choices have consequences.

One example in the life of our church – we have and will have families that become active members of Christ Church only to pull back and effectively become strangers. We don’t see them in gatherings or in a group. They no longer answer the phone and don’t respond to email or text messages. Sometimes they’re disgruntled with the church (it happens) and sometimes life has forced church to become optional.

What makes these situations so devastating is the spiritual death that such a shrinking back often brings to an entire family. It is rare to see adults re-engage spiritually and it almost always leaves children indifferent or bitter towards both God and His church. This is just one implication of Achan’s story in our midst.

Historically – and tragically – the remaining members of the family we call Christ Church have done little more than to wave good-bye and fuss about people behind their backs. For that we need to apologize to each other and repent to God for our foolishness and lack of concern for His glory and the good of those who wander off the reservation.

Instead we need to embrace a life of mutual accountability that includes active persuasion to not ignore the family and wander away from God (facts that seem obvious to everyone but the person or family involved) along with clear implications from the Scriptures that are acted upon by the elders of the church when family is ignored and the kindness of God is trampled upon.

Again, this cuts against the grain of an increasingly libertarian culture and reeks of cultish fanaticism. But isn’t this how your family operates – because of the potentially devastating effects of not listening to God, you discipline those you’re responsible for. And I believe it is how we must begin to live as a church.

We are a family called to follow Jesus. We must learn to love one another through deeply connected lives that celebrate the blessings of grace and act upon the severe mercies of God with broken-hearted persistence.

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For the next few weeks, we are featuring the stories of Christ Community Church’s newest members. This is a great opportunity for you to get to know them, and to hear, in their own words, how they came to believe the gospel, why they wanted to join our church, and how their lives have changed since they encountered Jesus. Take a minute when you read these posts to pray for these brothers and sisters, thanking  God for his work in their lives, and to pray for His continued work in and through them over the summer.

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If you’re a member of Christ Church, I need your help with something.

First of all, I want you to understand that being a member means that you are an inventor…a creator…someone who spreads ideas like a virus. You didn’t join Christ Church to consume goods and services or to be dragged around by the decisions of other people. You got into this to add value and to help other people follow Jesus.

While we were getting feedback from other people who are part of Christ Church, we ran into several common problems that will keep people from showing up on Sundays at 5pm. Here’s where I need your help – as an inventor, I’m giving you a free pass to create new ideas to help people who can’t show up at 5pm for our gathering become people who can show up at 5pm for our gathering.

Here are the problems I need you to solve with your ideas:

  • ‘I work at 5:00’
  • ‘My little girl is still taking a nap at 5:00’
  • ‘Our kids have soccer games on Sunday afternoons’
  • ‘I have other things I need to do on campus (study group, intramurals, campus ministries)’
  • ‘This messes up our community group’

You can help by a) picking one of the problems above and b) creating a solution and sharing it below in the comments section. I can’t wait to see what you come up with – who knows, you might be changing someone’s life.

So maybe you’ve never thought of yourself as an inventor…a creator of great ideas. And the temptation is to not start now because you’re pretty sure your idea won’t be a good idea. Can I give you permission to create bad ideas? Because you’ll never create great ideas without a few duds along the way.

Now jump on this thing and create because this is what we do – we help other people figure out how to follow Jesus.

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Jeff Vanderstelt at this year’s Verge conference:

“At Soma we act upon the assumption that every saint is a full-time paid staff member to do the work of ministry. It doesn’t matter whether the check we receive has our church’s name in the upper left hand corner, or Microsoft, Boeing, etc. Wherever the check comes from, it is God’s channel of bringing his resources into your life to enable you to do your full time ministry as God’s sent one.

A critical question we must ask is, ‘Have we structured so that everybody becomes a ‘carrier’ of Jesus and see all of life as the ministry they are called to?’ The most effective carrier of discipleship is not an event. It is doing life together.

No one gets equipped in meetings. We may get informed, motivated, etc., but equipping requires us to be doing, not just hearing. We must live life together in community or we cannot equip each other. How do we know if a man is faithful? (2 Tim. 2:2) We know that only if we are doing life together.

We do not put on a lot of events that extract people from life…instead we equip for life with one another. Unless we call people to focus on mission, they will ultimately become internalized and segregated from the world. We must reorient our whole lives around reaching out to people. Do whatever it takes to be a missionary to a particular people group.

When we started Soma, it was not about a big launch service. We launched people and commissioned them to start their own groups. Each leader has an apprentice. Those who lead small flocks well are those who become entrusted elders of the congregation.”

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  1. Membership is patterned in the New Testament.
  2. Membership secures participation in the Kingdom of God.
  3. Membership provides spiritual protection.
  4. Membership is for our spiritual maturity.
  5. Membership is for our spiritual fulfillment.

You can read the rest here.

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