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Joining a Church?Posted Thursday, May 14, 2009, at 8:44 AM
Recently the current board of elders at Christ Community Church made a unilateral covenant with the people they had been asked to lead. I take "covenant" to mean a pledge as to what kind of leaders, and what kind of men, they are going to be. This unsolicited promise should not be thought of as a teaching or dogma of the church, but simply a statement as what to reasonably require of these particular leaders.
Overall I think it a good thing they've done. Specific, personal commitments are commendable from the leaders of any group. How much better off would be any organization, community or nation if leadership stood up and said: "This is what I am and what I am going to do, hold me to it?"
Responding in kind to such a declaration, however, is not something we tend to do very well. Americans prefer to expect more of our leaders than of ourselves. It is one thing to join a church or volunteer with some worthy organization as long as things are going swimmingly. It is quite another to stick with it when we don't appreciate immediate outcomes. This tends to be particularly the case as regards church "membership" (with which I have some exposure).
There is often a trend to simply quit going or find some preacher somewhere else we like better. Who knows, if more leaders would say what they were going to do up-front and stick with it, it may be more profitable to wait out their terms than to give up too soon.
My own response to our elders' commitment took some pondering. This is what I know (or, more precisely, what applies generally to churches and other works of God on earth):
First, God would do a great work with His people. This is true, at the very least, of every group in Clay County united in an attempt to do God's work. And, sometimes God does some very effective work using people not organized as a "church". With truly committed leadership our generation could really accomplish something.
Second, a fellow really needs to know where he belongs. The American Cancer Society does some good work, but I would not make much of a volunteer because I do not have a passion for their mission. What a fellow (or gal) has passion for might just be a good indicator of how to be most effectively used.
Third, if a follower, follow. I am not a leader, but can be a decent follower. Leaders of any church voluntarily assume responsibility for the direction and spiritual maturity of their charges. They are not, therefore, infallible; but they are responsible. As long as they lead in agreement I will follow.
Finally, having committed to something, commit to it. Only God knows how many opportunities are available locally to do God's work on earth (all with devoted leaders!). It is easy to give up, or drift away, or get mad and leave just about Anything. It'd be much easier for leaders to do what they said they'd do if followers have courage to stay with it -- or say why not.
Joining a church? By my count there are 50-plus reachable without leaving the county, almost all will be open Sunday for evaluation as to whether you and they together can best do God's work on earth.
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.
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