Are you a member of a local church? If not, it may be because you question the value of the formal step of membership. I hope the following thoughts inspire you to take the step!
Membership is understood through the Biblical concept of covenant. While our modern culture is more familiar with contractual relationships, life together as a part of the family of God is all about desire, never obligation! A contract makes demands of a person while a covenant makes promises to a person. A contract focuses on the consequences of failure while a covenant focuses on the benefits of relationship.
As part of the membership experience, one should expect toreceive a list of the promises that a personwill be expected to keep. But where church membership often fails, is that the leadership of the church fail to make promises in turn. One should also the church to share a list of promises as well; otherwise, a Biblical covenant relationship is not formed. If God made promises to Abraham, then come on, as church leaders we can make solemn promises to every person, every family who is prepared to make commensurate promises as well!
But what difference will a covenant make? In the same way the covenant of marriage creates a context in which a committed romantic relationship flourishes, the covenant of membership is the basis for a community of people to trust one another with their collective spiritual lives. Ephesians 4, verses 11-16 speaks to usabout such a community…may you have the occasion to find a church family in your neighborhood where you can step into such a sacred covenant and experience the wonder of the Ephesians 4 church in our modern era!
If you live in the Tidwater area…you’ll have to come visit us one Saturday night. Church on Saturday, you might ask?
During the summer of 2008, I was reading in the gospel of Mark and came upon some striking words, “When evening came, after the sun had set, they began bringing to Him all those who were sick…” (Mark 1:32). Fear, not faith, was ruling their hearts. Bound by tradition, they had to wait before encountering Jesus. Still today, tradition displaces Christ. People cling to practice instead of our Living God. I knew then God was asking City Life to make a bold move that would position our worship service on the weekend to reach people who had grown weary of lifeless traditions and be reawakened to a life defined by a passion filled relationship with God! Certainly we are not saying that all churches that hold to sacred traditions are lifeless. In fact, traditions are intended to remind us of the life we find in Him!
At City Life, we too are celebrating many wonderful traditions we hope will stand the test of time. But our commitment is that traditions are only valuable to the degree that they direct us deeper into a life defining, passion filled, moment by moment governing relationship with Him! During my decades of ministry, I have met so many people whose traditions have displaced life andour hope is that worshiping together on a non-traditional day will inspire them to trust again that something transcendent awaits them if they re-engage a weekly commitment of gathering with others in worship.
Back to our story…over the summer of 2008 and into the fall of that same year, our leadership team began a journey filled with prayer and fasting, ultimately believing together that God had called us to a new day. We cast the vision to the entire church on November 2, 2008 where we all joined together with one heart and one voice, declaring our faith in His perfect plan for our church. We held our first Saturday service on December 6 at 5pm… Rearranging the Weekend…Reawakening Life!
And we are confident of this, the “when” of Saturday night will always be part of our destiny! (There is one aspect of Sunday that we must however never forget, The Lord’s Day. We honor the resurrection of Christ through rest, relationship, and reaching out, what we believe to be three eternal life pursuing pathways that rise to the same place of sacredness as gathering corporately for worship!) So, if you’ve yet to find your covenant family, we’ll be looking for you on Saturday night — www.thecitylifechurch.com has all the information you need to visit…our promise is that you’ll be family from the first hello!