Church Membership 5: Responsibilities of membership: One Anothering


One of the big questions that divide people on their view of the church is this one: is the church an organisation or an organism? Those who answer organisation point to its defined leadership structure, its rules for worship and discipline and it doctrinal statements. Those who answer organism point to the church as a network of relationships and a community, a family driven by love not law. Spontaneity versus programs and relationships versus rules, these divisions spring from this dichotomy. The trouble is that this is a false dichotomy, the church is both organisation and organism. Today we are facing many casualties of this false dichotomy those who want to opt out of dead organisations for a live organism, this is part of what is driving the Emergent Church movement that stresses community at the expense of church. We are not to choose one side or the other, so that old people go for organisation and young people go for organism. No they are both commanded in Scripture. God has given the gifts of elders and deacons to properly order the life of the church, as well as our responsibilities to love one another. God is both the God of love and law and defines our existence by both. Rob Bell, a well-known Emergent Church leader has recently opted out of church for a ‘quasi-intentional spiritual community.’ He is just another casualty of this false dichotomy.

We are presently looking into the responsibilities of church members, and in doing so we are looking to maintain the health of the life of the church as an organism. I hope that as we have a healthy organisation and organism there will not be those who feel that we have chosen one view over the other and feel the need to compensate and leave. Today we will be looking at all the one anothering verses of the NT to flesh out still better the nature of our community life together. You will have heard us emphasise things like eldership, discipline, the regulative principle for worship, confessions of faith and our constitution, today I hope you hear that we also speak about the equal importance of community and are not choosing one over the other.

There have been many who have done a study on all the one another and each other verses of the NT, and there are many ways to arrange them. For our purposes today I have arranged all the verses under three heads that what the one anothering verses are about. They are family love, unity maintenance, and holistic service.