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 May/June 2011, Volume 8, Issue 3

 
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Editor's Note

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Evangelicals are good and maybe getting better at talking about the Christian mind, the Christian heart, even the Christian hands and feet. We want to think, feel, and act as Christians.

But what about the skeleton? No one really talks about that. If a skeleton holds things together, what is the structure that holds the Christian life together and gives it its shape?

The thing is, you can (sort of) exercise the Christian head, heart, and hands all by yourself. But when you start to consider what the Bible says about the structure of the Christian life—what I’m calling the skeleton—you find that it necessarily involves other people. And I mean other people in an authoritative capacity.

Christ has authorized the congregation and its leaders to act with authority in our lives. That’s not a popular idea among Westerners, but this is the skeleton which keeps the body, otherwise healthy, from slouching to the floor. It’s the bowl which keeps the soup from spilling everywhere. Looking across the evangelical landscape, do you know what I see? A lot of splattered soup. Oh, it’s tasty soup, but it has nothing to contain it and the dogs have been licking it up for years.

One illustration of this: consider the stereotypical evangelical youth group. You get gospel teaching. Sometimes gospel worldview formation. Sincere professions. And heart-felt worship. But there’s little formal accountability, structure, and discipline because the group is not a part of the church. Result: the kids go to college and the majority abandon the faith or at least live like they have. You can see the splatter.

The real problem is, how many churches operate this way?

That brings us to this episode of the 9Marks’ “Polity is Kool Show.” Today we turn to the theme of church membership. And, boy, do we have a show for you. Several brothers give us a biblical, historical, and sociological look. Several more of us consider the importance of membership. And then a few more offer wise pastoral advice on implementing membership in your church.

Also, watch out early next year for a new 9Marks book on membership for your leaders and members.

—Jonathan Leeman

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Articles

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MEMBERSHIP IN THE BIBLE AND HISTORY


Is Church Membership Biblical?

Is church membership a matter of personal preference or biblical obedience? Matt Chandler says the latter.
By Matt Chandler

 

Joining a Church the Ancient Way: From Clement to Egeria

In the ealiest days of Christianity, people joined the church through catechism, creed, and baptism - in that order. This professor suggests they still should today.
By Michael A.G. Haykin

 

Church Membership and Contextualization

How do we formulate a contextually-sensitive doctrine of local church membership? By giving attention to biblical universals and cultural particulars.

By Ed Roberts

 

Book Review: The Church and the Surprising Offense of God's Love, by Jonathan Leeman

Reviewed by Tim Chester

 

 

DOES MEMBERSHIP MATTER?


Meaningless Membership: A Southern Baptist Perspective

What do you get when your denomination has 10 million absentee church members? Sadly, a lot of false assurance, a dilluted witness, and some really ugly members' meetings.
By Al Jackson

 

 

Twelve Reasons Why Membership Matters

Church membership is a bigger deal than you might think it is. Here are twelve reasons why.
By Jonathan Leeman


 

 

MEMBERSHIP INSTRUCTION FOR PASTORS


Implementing Membership in an Existing Church

When this pastor first arrived at his church, he says, we didn't know who "we" were. Here are some lessons they learned as they established church membership.
By John Folmar


Implementing Membership in a Church Plant

When should a church plant introduce membership? And why church planters care to institute formal church membership in the first place?
By Mike McKinley

 

Moving Attenders to Members

How should we help people understand the necessity and joy of belonging to a local assembly of believers? Here are six suggestions.

By Thabiti Anyabwile


What does the Regulative Principle Require of Church Members?

Since church members are a "captive audience," church leaders may only require of them what Scripture requires. The regulative principle is not a limiter but the great emancipator of the Christian life.

By Terry Johnson

 

From the Archives: Cleaning Up the Rolls

By Matt Schmucker

 

Resources on Membership

Q&A's, audio resources, free membership class materials, and more on church membership.

Audio Interview

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The Two Kingdoms and the Natural Law

with David VanDrunen

Mark Dever asks David VanDrunen for a tutorial on the complex but important topic of a church's role in political society.

Posted May 1, 2011

 

Culture of Discipling

with Mark Dever
Mark Dever explains why he prioritizes building relationships like he does--in the church, between Christians, and among pastors.
Posted on March 1, 2011

 
   
 

eJournal - Membership magazine

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Events

9Marks at 9 (SBC)

Phoenix, AZ
June 13-14, 2011
Mark Dever, Paige Patterson, Al Mohler, Danny Akin, and David Platt

Reverb

In partnership with The Gospel Coalition

Trinity Bible Church

Phoenix, AZ
June 15-16, 2011
Mark Dever, Matt Schmucker, Jonathan Leeman, and Ryan Townsend

9Marks Weekender

Washington, DC
September 15-19, 2011
Mark Dever and Matt Schmucker

9Marks Workshop

New York City, NY
October 12-13, 2011

Registration opens Aug. 1

Speakers & Schedule TBD

 

Miscellaneous Book Reviews

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The Next Christians, by Gabe Lyons

Reviewed by Owen Strachan

Book - Gospel Commission
The Gospel Commission, by Michael Horton

Reviewed by Bobby Jamieson

Book - Paul's Understanding of the Church's Mission
Paul's Understanding of the Church's Mission, by Robert Plummer

Reviewed by Kevin DeYoung

Book - 40 Questions About Interpreting the Bible
40 Questions about Interpreting the Bible, by Robert Plummer

Reviewed by Jason Meyer

Book - Loving the Church
Loving the Church, by John Crotts 

Reviewed by Brian Croft

 

 
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