Do you, as Christ's body, the church,
reaffirm both your rejection of sin
and your commitment to Christ?
Wil you nurture one another in the Christian faith and include these persons now before you in your care?
With God's help we will proclaim the good news
and live according to the example of Christ.
We will surround these persons
with a community of love and forgiveness,
that they may grow in their trust of God,
and be found faithful in their service to others.
We will pray for them
That they may be true disciples
who walk in the way that leads to life.
from pp. 34-35 UM Hymnal.
What does membership in a local church really mean, theologically? If a person has prayed the sinner's prayer, accepted Christ as Lord, repented of their sin -- what does the membership in a local church really mean?
We have looked at this as a failing of first the pastor to be truly inclusive then as a failing the person seeking membership to be truly repentant -- but perhaps this a failing of ourselves and our local congregations. Are we really fulfilling our congregational pledge? Are we proclaiming the good news of Christ? Are we living according to the example of Christ? Are we surrounding people with a community of love and forgiveness?