10 Reasons for Practicing Formal Church Membership: The Case for Defining Who Makes Up the Church

  1. The gospel saves, not just individuals, but a people that take the form of local communities (churches).
  2. These churches have definable boundaries—who it is that makes up the church.
  3. The NT depicts the Christian life occurring in the context of the local church.
  4. The church is a community of believers. So we don’t want to assume someone to be a part of our church without confirming they are in fact a believer.
  5. People belong to a church voluntarily. So we don’t want to assume someone to be a part of our church without them agreeing to it.
  6. In order to discipline someone out of the church, they first need to be considered a part of the church.
  7. Being able to identify who makes up our church clarifies who actually represents our church, thereby guarding our testimony.
  8. In order to conduct our affairs as a church (e.g., voting), we need to know who makes up the church.
  9. Elders/pastors need to know who they are accountable for.
  10. Members need to know who they are accountable to (which elders/pastors?)

Understanding Typology (with Mitch Chase)

Jesus is the true and better Adam. He’s our Passover Lamb whose death brings about a new Exodus. Indwelt by God’s Spirit, Christ’s church is the end-time temple of God. And on and on we could go. The Bible is littered with types, “prophetic patterns,” that anticipate and find their fulfillment in Christ. But what exactly is typology, and how does it function? What are its underlying assumptions, the theological operating system if you will, on which it runs? And should we be imitating the apostles by practicing typological interpretation even today? Mitch Chase joins us to help us answer these questions.

Access the episode here. (Available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, and more.)

An Accessible Guide to Systematic Theology, Christian Theology by Christopher Morgan

For a while now, I’ve been on the hunt for a solid, entry-level systematic theology to use with people in my church. We have a wealth of in-depth, academic-level systematic theologies available to us today, especially for those of us in the Reformed tradition. But there’s a notable gap in literature that hits the sweet spot—at least for those of us who are Reformed and Baptist—between those more technical, lengthier works and systematic theologies that are geared to the average person in the pew.

This is partly why I think Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology has been so popular despite its methodological and theological problems. I’ll be honest; I’ve used it with people! It’s accessible, easy to understand, saturated with scripture, and generally takes Reformed positions. In terms of those qualities, it’s ideal for use in the church. But alas, there’s that pesky methodology (Biblicism) along with his odd (Grudem’s view of prophecy) to even straight-up aberrant (eternal subordination of the Son) theological positions at times.

So I’ve long desired a replacement, something that’s equally accessible, readable, scripture saturated, but without the problems of Grudem.

I’m pleased to say that I think I’ve found that in Christopher Morgan’s Christian Theology: The Biblical Story and Our Faith.

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A Concise Explanation of the SBC Guidepost Abuse Report

Note: The above diagrams are admittedly simplified, obscuring two things.

First, for most participating churches, their financial contributions do not go directly to the “Cooperative Program” or its entities. Rather, their financial contributions are made to their respective state convention, which then collects some of those funds for its purposes and then passes on the rest to the “Cooperative Program.” It’s not required to give this way. A church can give directly to the “Cooperative Program,” or select “Cooperative Program” entities, by sending their money straight to the Executive Committee and bypassing any state convention.

Secondly, although LifeWay and Guidestone are entities that serve participating churches, they do not actually receive financial support from the “Cooperative Program.” I nonetheless included them here though to make you aware of their existence within the “SBC ecosystem.”

I’ve heard things about abuse in the SBC. What was that all about?

In early 2019, an investigative journalist published a report detailing cases of abuse that occurred in churches that participate in the “Cooperative Program” (often less precisely referred to as “SBC churches”).

Participating churches grew in concern over how abuse was being handled within the association. More and more victims continued to speak up. And suspicions eventually emerged regarding how the Executive Committee (EC) in particular handled (or better, failed to handle) reports of abuse they had received.

So at the 2021 annual Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in June 2021, the church delegates voted to hire an independent entity to conduct a thorough (and very costly) investigation into the Executive Committee’s handling of abuse claims.

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