Becoming a member

Although we have been attending our church for almost two years, Honey and I are not officially members. We participate in church functions, put money in the offering plate, and volunteer for various activities, but we’ve never taken the steps to become actual members of the congregation. There are two reasons that I haven’t joined yet.

I want to join the church as a couple.

When we started attending services, I wasn’t entirely sure of what I believed, but I knew that I believed in God and that I had to find a church where homosexuals weren’t being actively discriminated against. Honey’s views on religion were quite negative, mainly because of his unpleasant experiences with it as a child and because he didn’t really put much stock in the guy upstairs.

What we’ve found over the last couple of years is that our views have switched. He has become more of a believer, while I’ve become more of a questioner. This is rather inconvenient in my quest to become members, because we really need to be in similar places spiritually in order to join. That’s because joining requires answering specific questions related to faith.

I want to answer the questions honestly.

When someone joins our church, they stand in front of the congregation and reply to specific statements. These include professing a belief in God, claiming Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, promising to shun the forces of evil to the best of one’s ability, and promising to support the other members of the congregation.

The pledges to shun evil and support the congregation don’t give me pause, but given my present (and somewhat agnostic) views, I’m not sure how to answer the first couple of questions.

While many people may offer their answers with no more conviction than they would feel while reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, I believe they are to be regarded with the utmost respect. In my mind, this is no less important than exchanging marriage vows, as I am basically “marrying” the congregation and Christ. If I can’t answer these questions in full faith and with complete honesty, then they are nothing more than idle words.

Karen and I had a long and comprehensive discussion yesterday afternoon about my hesitancy. She explained that what I’m going through is very common for students who enter the seminary. Apparently, as they start learning new ways of looking at things that they’ve taken for granted their entire lives, their belief systems start to unravel. She believes that I have outgrown many of the notions that I held as truth and that I’m in the process of rebuilding my faith. Something about that makes me feel so much better.

So, maybe my partner and I can join our loving church some day soon. In the meantime, I’m going to keep challenging my faith and learning as much as I possibly can, so that when I do make those statements they will come from the bottom of my heart.

Author: Brian

Blogger. Bookworm. Michael Jackson fanatic. Lives in Kentucky with partner of 12 years and three fabulous felines.

14 thoughts on “Becoming a member”

  1. She believes that I have outgrown many of the notions that I held as truth and that I’m in the process of rebuilding my faith.

    Brother Jim and sister Free…weez be smilin and sayin GLORY BE! ;)

  2. Rather than pose questions about your Trinitarian faith, perhaps we would be wiser to ask:

    1. Have you found God’s unconditional love alive in our midst? 2. Do our actions and attitudes consistently reflect those of Jesus Christ? 3. Is there ample evidence that the Holy Spirit governs and guides us as a congregation?

    I would hope that you (or anyone worshiping with us) could answer a hearty “YES” to each of these questions and that this is what makes us the perfect place to grow in faith.

    Looking at my own journey, I’d say that faith is a living thing, always changing and expanding. Joining the church might be sorta like deciding to have children: if one waits until one feels entirely ready, much time (and potential joy) may be lost.

    In this part of the world, there is far more emphasis on church membership than anywhere else I’ve pastored. You may never join…and that would not make you any less a powerful, valuable presence than if you were “official.”

    I’m grateful daily (hourly, sometimes)that you and Alan are part of this family of faith. Your desire to live with integrity and authenticity is so rare and so compelling. I learn from you all the time about what it means to be a Christian and I’m sure the church as a whole would agree.

  3. That’s right, sister Free! (love your blog, by the way!)

    Brian, You and Alan are so blessed to have your “church family” and to have Karen as your Pastor…and they are so blessed to have you two, too :)

    JimT

  4. @ FreeFromItAll: You crack me up!

    @ MoonbeamMcQueen: You are lovely.

    @ Karen: You are beyond awesome.

    @ Jim: You are an inspiration.

    Thanks to all of you for your kind and wonderful comments!

  5. Wonderful entry. I think it’s great that you don’t want to do it until you can do it with a clean conscious.

    I remember when J joined our church. He had been asked before, but was unsure about abandoning his Baptist roots. It was homecoming Sunday, and the guest speaker said, during the invitational, “maybe someone here just wants to join the church”. J was leading the singing that day, adn wasn’t sitting near me, but when I heard those words, I just knew. During the song, I looked up and J was at the front, talking to the guest pastor, and our pastor. When the song was over, he joined the church. I guess what I’m trying to say is, when the time is right, you’ll know.

  6. I too am agnostic, and all I can tell you is that if you try to force yourself into one side or the other…

    Not everyone can fit into the genre they would like..

    Be happy with the place you are and let everything else come naturally.

    Your reasons for waiting to become a “member” – are perfectly valid, you’ll just say one day “Hey, Alan, I think we should go ahead and become members.” ;)

    Best of luck to you hon.

  7. Brian
    Posted January 8, 2008 at 10:32 am | Permalink
    @ Alyson: Thank you! I think you’re right about knowing then the time comes.

    @ Ben (aka Butt-head):

    – lol, man, one post and I’m nailed!

  8. @ Alyssa: You’re right. It’s better to let it come naturally.

    @ Ben: You know that I’m referring to “Beavis & Butt-head”, right? They were always doing that “you said” thing. I loved it.

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