Experience tells most of us that we are far quicker to embrace the benefits of being part of a group of people than we are to embrace the responsibilities placed upon us in return.
As children, we love being showered with gifts by our parents, but we bristle when we are told to make our beds. Now as adults, we are glad for our government to pay for police and firemen to protect us, but we scoff whenever we see the amount of tax withheld from our paychecks!
Such is the human heart…But, in the church, we can and ought to be different! We ought to celebrate the immense benefits we have received from being brought into the church by God. But we also ought to gladly embrace the responsibilities that we now have as part of that church.
Dr. Matt Harmon served our church family well this past Sunday by preaching a sermon from Acts 2:42-27, as part of our series called “Home Away From Home.” Unpacking that passage, Dr. Harmon gave us two helpful categories to remember what our responsibilities are as members of the church: to be involved and to be invested. What a helpful summary of what God has called us to as followers of Jesus who are walking through life together! Dr. Harmon gave numerous examples of how those two commitments—to be involved and to be invested—should play out in the life of each person who is part of our church. While some of those responsibilities may vary from person to person based on gifting and passions, there is a core set of commitments that every believer should hold in common.
As part of the proposed Bylaws, we, as the elders of our church, have sought to solidify what those core commitments should be; and we have incorporated those into an updated “Membership Agreement” that every member of CCC would agree to adhere to (Article VI, Section 6). Should the new polity be ratified, whenever an individual would request entrance into church membership, he/she would be asked to sign that agreement, which includes the following commitments:
- I commit to place myself under the care and authority of the Elders of this church and to support the church’s Statement of Faith.
- I commit to active participation and service in this local body by attending called gatherings and engaging in meaningful biblical community, for my own sanctification and the edification of others in this body.
- As a means of grace in my sanctification, I commit to pursue godly disciplines of the study and application of Scripture; prayer; the proclamation of the gospel; and the regular giving of my time, gifts, and finances.
- I commit to actively care for my fellow church members. When an offense occurs between me and another believer, I commit to lovingly admonish anyone whose practice of sin requires it and to pursue reconciliation in accordance with the procedures described in the church’s bylaws.
- I affirm that I understand the church discipline policies of this church as set forth in the church’s bylaws. I commit to be bound by the policies and procedures described therein, should the need ever arise.
- I commit to honor Christ in my home, promote marriage as a reflection of Christ’s relationship with His church and bring up any children God blesses me with in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
- Should God move me from this place, I commit to unite with a gospel-centered church where I can continue to carry out the spirit of this agreement and follow the teaching of God’s Word.
We hope that many of you—some of whom are not even “official” members of our church—are encouraged to realize that you are already living out this set of commitments! While, for others, we hope it highlights some ways in which God might be calling you to become more involved or more invested. But please note that our intent in having this list of responsibilities, and in sharing it here, is not to lay guilt on anyone. Rather it is to help paint a clear picture for us of how God wants us to live together as His people. And it is to invite you to join us as we seek to make it a reality.
Benefits may be easier to embrace than responsibilities. But let’s remember that if we abandon our responsibilities, we are actually denying our brothers and sisters of their benefits. And conversely, when we embrace our responsibilities, we provide exponential benefits for each other.
We all will face the temptation to shirk on these commitments. But by the help and power of the Spirit, let’s live these out together!