There are some who attend churches worldwide, who hesitate to become "members" of that church or denomination.
The word "Member", often carries its own connotations of exclusiveness. About being "in", and others being "out". We grow up knowing about various types of clubs and organizations. About the perks of becoming a "member". About the down side to "not taking advantage of this offer", etc.
In regards to churches, there's also some confusion between becoming a "member" of the church, and becoming a "member" of the body of Christ. We know these are not the same thing.
Just recently, the Free Methodist denomination made a decent step in a direction of grace/community. "Language isn't that important" - some might say. "That's not why I haven't become a member yet...that's a trivial issue." Maybe to some. But to others, it communicates quite a bit.
A resolution recently adopted that hasn't gotten a whole lot of play, says that:
"in some settings the terms member and membership are unhelpful and can create confusion. In such situations we encourage churches to use the terms partner/partnership as alternatives."
This is not only helpful for those who have hesitated to take on the title of "member". This also offers a new understanding of who we are within the denomination also. We are not just members of an organization that offers us special rights and privileges. We are partners in the important and eternal work of the Kingdom of God. We come along-side each other, and alongside God in what God is already accomplishing...for all creation.
We, as partners with the same Christ-centered things in mind, commit to each other and to God in a covenant partnership that goes beyond what any denomination "allows or doesn't allow". But within that covenant partnership, we offer a denominational partnership of understanding and following that covenant together. Not for our sake, but for the sake of what God is already doing and desiring to be involved in it.
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