Find your place in the story of Redemption Church Denver

As Christians, we are called out of isolation and adopted into Christ’s family, the church. This is part of the good news of the gospel, that he has united us to himself, and brought us into a new type of unity with each other.

The scriptures use all sorts of metaphors to describe the church. We are called the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:12), living stones in a spiritual house (1 Pet 2:5), ambassadors of Christ (2 Cor 5:20), the bride of Christ (Eph 5:32), family (Matt 12:49-50), and many more. Each of these draw out a particular nuance of how Christians are called to relate to one another.

Becoming a member of Redemption Church Denver means stepping into the responsibility and joy of all these metaphors so that we participate in the reality of Christ’s church. Christ did not come to accomplish a theoretical redemption, or set up a theoretical church, but a real one. One that takes place in the real lives of Christians with names and addresses, strengths and weaknesses. In our real love for one another the world will know that we are truly Christ’s disciples (John 13:34-35).

Why Membership?

Formal church membership might seem like unnecessary bureaucracy that clouds the spiritual nature of the church. Couldn’t someone just attend our church and participate in the community, do we really need a piece of paper and list of names? The answer is, it depends.

We can imagine a gathering of Christians in a country where our faith is outlawed. A small group of people meet weekly to encourage one another. They know each other by name, and remain close to one another as their only encouragement in the Lord. For this group to have a list of members written down would be outright dangerous. The biblical commands of church discipline would always be carried out at the personal level. The context would allow this church to adhere to the biblical model without a formalized membership process.

In our context the challenges to church membership are much less severe, but can really threaten the health of the church. Our city is transient, with a constant flow of people moving in and out. Our commitment to one another is often fickle and treated as optional in our faith. We tend to reduce the church to a weekly performance that we assess, instead of a gathered family worshipping the Lord. We don’t really know each other, aren’t really known, and start to think the descriptions of church in scripture are just a fantasy.

Formalized membership fits a culture like ours. When we idolize freedom, formalized membership celebrates our commitment. When we rail against authority, formalized membership celebrates the authority of Christ our king. When we run away from hard relationships, formalized membership holds us together in the transcendent love of Christ.

What is membership?

The scripture assumes some form of church membership as an integral part of being a Christian. In Jesus’s instruction concerning what to do if your brother sins against you, the prescribed response requires a local church of real people that you are understood to be a part of;

If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
—Matthew 18:15-17

The church community has authority to discern sin, and based on this discernment to determine whether or not someone is in the church or out of the church. Membership therefore is a willingness to both come under the authority of the church, as well as a willingness to bear responsibility for the sake of the church.

  1. Membership as submission: The ultimate villain in our culture just might be submission to authority. But in our submission to the elders of the church, and their submission to scripture, we point towards our ultimate submission to Christ. Our hearts are designed to thrive under the leadership of the true king, Jesus. When we joyfully submit to the structures he has put in place we are declaring to the world the wonder of his reign. How good it is to be under the true king!
  2. Membership as responsibility: Membership isn’t just submission to authority, but also a bearing of responsibility. When you become a member of the church you are joining a body. That means you have particular callings and giftings that will benefit the mission of the church. This can manifest in an incredible diversity of ways depending upon how God has gifted you, but make no mistake, as a member of the church you have a responsibility to build up the body. You likewise have a responsibility as a representative of Jesus. This means that the whole of your life proclaims the glory of Christ as king.

Practically membership is required for leadership in Redemption Groups, Bible studies,  and volunteer team leadership positions. This is a means of protecting the integrity of our church community.

Who should become a member?

Membership is not a christian ranking, but a communal affirmation. So who is it that should be affirmed as members of Christ’s church? Simply put, Christians. The standard for church membership should be the same as the standard by which we are Christians. That we confess Jesus as Lord, depend upon Christ alone for salvation, and seek to live Spirit led lives as Christ’s disciples. The institution that Christ has given us to demonstrate our new life in him is baptism. So if someone hasn’t been baptized we would also perform a baptism in obedience to Christ’s commands and a public affirmation of participation in Christ’s community.

The church does not make someone a Christian, this is solely the work of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life. However, it is the church’s responsibility to affirm a Christian’s faith and right participation in the church community. History is full of false proclamations of Jesus, and our present society offers many differing opinions on what it means to consider yourself a Christian. As such, we have created a Statement of Faith for Redemption Church Denver, in an effort to make explicit what we are affirming in membership. Likewise we have created a membership covenant that explains the commitment made by both the leadership of the church and members of the church.

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