Posts tagged: church membership

Should Church Membership Ever Be Denied?

By Paula Marolewski, August 28, 2009 9:08 pm

I wonder if we sometimes err on the side of being too nice. Too trusting.

Too gullible.

Let’s take a hypothetical example. Suppose that an individual, we’ll call him Bob, applies for membership at a local church. But a current member in good standing at that church, we’ll call her Susan, knows Bob personally, and is an eyewitness to the fact that Bob is a trouble-monger who delights in tearing down church leadership.

Susan, in genuine concern, lays the facts of her personal experience with Bob before the pastor of the church. The question is: what should the pastor and church leadership do?

Now, I am fully convinced that people can change, and that Bob may have turned over a new leaf. After all, that is the core of Christianity! However, that being said, I don’t necessarily think the pastor should just accept Bob’s application for membership without discussing the issue with him.

What if Bob claims he has confessed and repented of his sin? Even then, discretion would be wise. For instance, the church leadership could require a probationary period before membership could be accepted – but it would have to be a long enough period where Bob’s true character traits would have ample opportunity to manifest themselves … for better or for worse. I believe that a truly repentant Christian brother or sister will honor and respect any conditions placed upon acceptance of membership.

Matthew 7:17-18 remind us that “Every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.” When the health of the church is at stake, I believe that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” If there is a reasonable cause for concern, use discretion. Wait to see what fruit is produced.

© 2009 Paula Marolewski


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