Saturday 12 July 2014

Christian Reflection on Membership

The latest issue of Christian Reflection, published by the Center for Christian Ethics at Baylor University, is now available, this one devoted to ‘Membership’. The whole issue is available as a pdf here, and an accompanying Study Guide is available here. The main articles, with their abstracts, are as follows:

Robert B. Kruschwitz
In the biblical image of the Church as the body of Christ, our life together is ideally rooted in mutual belonging, love, and obedience. Our contributors explore the nature of our membership in the Church and its implications for the Christian moral life.

Michelle Lee-Barnewall
Whose Body? Which Membership?
Although we recognize “the family of God” and “the body of Christ” are important biblical images for the Church, it is not so easy for us to grasp how the Church today should live into them. One reason is that we tend to view our membership from an individualistic mindset.

Lindsey Brigham and Wayne Martindale
Not Marching, but Dancing
An ornery professor who went to church from no apparent personal desire, C.S. Lewis has much to teach us about the nature and practice of membership. He staunchly affirms that the Church has a place in the modern world because it alone can sustain the sort of membership in which human life is fulfilled.

Brent Laytham
Membered and Remembered
A word that Wendell Berry has been standing by for years is “membership.” In his fiction about “the Port William membership,” the Pauline theme of membership in Christ finds analog and overlap with a quotidian fellowship of farmers. From their stories we can draw lessons in church membership.

Darin H. Davis
Mutual Correction
One of the most important, difficult, and neglected obligations we owe to one another as brothers and sisters in Christ is mutual correction, which is the practice of giving and accepting counsel, admonishment, and rebuke as a form of spiritual rescue.

Patricia Snell Herzog
Are Emerging Adults “Spiritual but Not Religious”?
The “spiritual but not religious” (SBNR) category has been an interesting group for congregations to study despite its not being a statistical majority. Sociologically, however, it is far more intriguing to concentrate on the entire range and consider the membership implications of each of the four types of emerging adults.

Amy Everett
Tending Christ’s Body
When we receive the grace of fellowship with Christ, the spirit of Christ calls us to tend to and feed one another. How we tend to each other (or not) as members of the same body, the Body of Christ, is personal to Jesus Christ.

Jim Somerville
Rethinking Re-Baptism: What It Means to Be a Member
God loves us and wants us for his own. At some point we may be able to apprehend God’s grace and accept it for the gift that it is. But these are two ends of a single continuum, and while some Christians focus on the giving of grace through infant baptism, others focus on the receiving of grace through believer’s baptism.

Jeffrey W. Cary
How is the Body Ailing?
Many people today believe that the church in America, in almost all its expressions, is suffering; the Body is ailing. The three books under review here provide both diagnosis and treatment. Each offers a strong call for a more robust ecclesiology, emphasizing especially the Church’s holiness and catholicity.

Debra Dean Murphy
Mapping the Life Together
Our life together in Christ need not be measured in terms of numerical growth, clever programming, or congregational busyness. The resources reviewed here share the conviction that membership in the body of Christ is a gift to be received and nurtured, and that faithfulness in our common life will not always look like success.

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