Principle #4: The Covenant Principle: commitment to the integrity of membership.
The covenant community of the church has gates which define when one is inside or outside.
Jesus called people to become part of a covenant
community, a counter culture. Membership would involve forsaking individual
goals and agendas for the sake of a higher purpose – the kingdom of God. This
call upset many of the institutionally religious (SE: 70). Slaughter
refers us to Luke 9:23, 9:58, 14:26, John 6. Many churches today see
membership in the church in the same context as membership in a community club
or organization. The church is just one of several organizations with which we
are affiliated that has officers, committees, dinners, dues, and money-making
projects. We give the church equal or even less priority than other
responsibilities in our lives…. the Son of God did not give his life for this
institutional concept of church membership. It is far more costly to belong to
the body of Christ than to any other human organization (SE: 70-71).
True to this concept of obedience to Jesus as Lord, Ginghamsburg adds stringent requirements to membership. Members must complete a 13 week class and go through an interview process. Questions are concerning faith journey, the lordship of Christ, giftedness, service, small-group participation, and stewardship. Attendance is tracked. People are contacted by letter or phone when they miss three weeks of worship… Inactive members are contacted and asked about their intent to continue the covenant of membership at Ginghamsburg (SE: 72-73). Wesley had similar, even stricter demands of the early Methodists.
To be a member of Christ=s body means that you recognize him as
Lord. Lord means absolute authority – owner…. I am no longer in
charge… (SE: 77). One of the mottoes of Ginghamsburg is that Aif Jesus would vote yes, you cannot
Ginghamsburg does not dictate what Jesus requires; that is the responsibility
of the individual believer=s
study and prayer, but obedience is not optional. It costs something to be a
follower of Jesus Christ. In times of renewal, the Church rediscovers this
important principle. The integrity of membership cannot be divorced from the
cost of discipleship. Jesus is calling disciples, not club members (SE:
The current “A Follower’s Life” membership class is 12 weeks.
NOTE (my response)
SE: Michael Slaughter, Spiritual Entrepreneurs: Six Principles for Risking Renewal (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994). Quotes from the book are in italics.
“First Love: A Christ Centered Environment for Church Renewal” by Michael Slaughter. Dayton, OH: Whaleprints at United Theological Seminary, 1990. (video; currently unavailable.)
The quote is from Major League Disciple Making: An Overview of the Best Research on the Cell Church, an online course developed for the Institute for Discipleship at www.BeADisciple.com in 2009. Course materials, including these lectures, can be downloaded here: http://www.disciplewalk.com/IFD_MLD_Class_Links.html
All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Please review the page How and Why We Use Quotes.