Church Membership, Pastor Kevin DeYoung, Making Vows, The Gospel Coalition, here we go again!
At The Gospel Coalition website, Pastor Kevin DeYoung has a new article on church membership, 6 Reasons Why Membership Matters. The title is not correct. It should be:
“6 Reasons Why Church Membership Matters to Controlling Pastors.”
As long as celebrity church leaders continue to push this dangerous teaching, my blogging friends from coast to coast will be pushing back.
Thank you, Amos, for bringing this article to my attention. Let’s just jump on in and I’ll add my editorial comments:
1. In joining a church you make visible your commitment to Christ and his people. Membership is one way to raise the flag of faith. You state before God and others that you are part of this local body of believers.
You do NOT need to be a member to raise the flag of faith. Your presence and fellowship among a body of believers is enough proof.
2. Making a commitment makes a powerful statement in a low-commitment culture. Many bowling leagues require more of their members than our churches.
Our commitment is to Christ and His precepts. Why is DeYoung keeping this so narrow to a body of believers at a church? The Body of Christ reaches far outside the confines of a physical building.
3. We can be overly independent. In the West, it’s one of the best and worst thing about us. We are free spirits and critical thinkers. We get an idea and run with it. But whose [sic] running with us? And are any of us running in the same direction? Membership states in a formal way, “I am part of something bigger than myself. I am not just one of three hundred individuals. I am part of a body.”
Part of a body following whom? One leader? How about following Christ?
4. Church membership keeps us accountable. When we join a church we are offering ourselves to one another to be encouraged, rebuked, corrected, and served. We are placing ourselves under leaders and submitting to their authority (Heb. 13:7). We are saying, “I am here to stay. I want to help you grow in godliness. Will you help me to do the same?”
There it is, the most popular verse used by leaders who to control their underlings. It does not require church membership to encourage one another. This is just nuts. When did church memberships start? 25-50 years ago? Why weren’t there membership rules before that?
5. Joining the church will help your pastor and elders be more faithful shepherds. Hebrews 13:7 says “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority.” That’s your part as “laypeople”. Here’s our part as leaders: “They keep watch over you as men who must give an account.”
Ack – two times he’s using that verse to push an authority position.
As a pastor I take very seriously my responsibility before God to watch care for souls. At almost every elders’ meeting the RCA Book of Church Order instructed us “seek to determine whether any members of the congregation are in need of special care regarding their spiritual condition and/or not making faithful use of the means of grace.”
Code language: let’s see who is messing up so we can use our self-appointed authority positions and put people in church discipline. “Making faithful use of the means of grace?” Say what? What exactly does this mean?
This is hard enough to do in a church like ours where there is constant turnover, but it’s even harder when we don’t know who is really a part of this flock.
Me thinks they probably take roll here to determine who is present or not present. Watch out!
To give just one example, we try to be diligent in following up with people who haven’t been at our church for a while. This is a challenge. But if you never become a member, we can’t tell if you are really gone, because we might not be sure if you were ever here! It’s nearly impossible for the elders to shepherd the flock when they don’t know who really considers them their shepherds.
Yup, there it is. And if I say that I can’t make it to Sunday because I’m out of town at my daughter’s volleyball tournaments, and that excuse doesn’t pass their test, then what? Church discipline?
6. Joining the church gives you an opportunity to make promises. . . . They are solemn vows. And we must hold each other to them. If you don’t join the church, you miss an opportunity to publicly make these promises, inviting the elders and the rest of the body to hold you to these promises-which would be missing out on great spiritual benefit, for you, your leaders, and the whole church.
Hold on, just a minute. Did he just say vows? This pastor is telling you to go against Scripture?
“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil. Matthew 5: 33-37
Articles from women bloggers (Dee and Deb from The Wartburg Watch) from the East Coast to SSB on the West Coast warning about these dangerous teachings:
- Whose Rights are Protected in The Gospel Coalition’s Article on Churches and Current Legal Culture? SSB
- 9Marks, Spiritual Abuse, and How Church Members Can Fall Through the Cracks SSB
- 9Marks: Church Authority over Church Members SSB
- Dissecting Church Bylaws: Conduct of Members SSB
- Spiritual Abuse: Verses Pastors Twist and Misuse to Control SSB
- Pastoral Confidentiality: Does it Still Apply after Church Member Resigns? SSB
- Churches Attempting to Force Mediation and Limit Members’ Right to Resign Under Discipline™ TWW
- A Tutorial: How to Assess the Membership Contract at Fort Worth’s CityView Church TWW