ALL IT TAKES
What does it take to become a disciple, that is, become a member of a church in the Disciples of Christ denomination (like Park View)? As I began to write this article, I found myself thinking about membership in general and I realized I have been a member of quite a few organizations in my 33 years that I have been on this planet. I was a member of Cub Scout pack 650 and Boy Scout troop 664 when I was growing up. I went to the Citadel for college and was a member of the South Carolina Corps of Cadets. I am currently a member of the Army-Navy club in Washington, DC. Every one of these organizations has some kind of criteria for membership. Pretty much every group in the world has some kind of membership criteria. Entrance exams, applications, membership fees, and the like are all pretty common.
The Disciples of Christ is no exception to having criteria for membership. It is pretty standard in our worship services that towards the end of the service a worship leader offers what is normally refed to as an “invitation to discipleship” to people who would like to join the church. All you have to do is walk down the aisle, meet the pastor in the front, and answer a question, “Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God, and do you proclaim him as your Lord and Savior?” Truthfully answer yes to this and you are a member; a disciple. That’s it. That’s all it takes.
It doesn’t matter who you are, what you do for a living, what clothes you are wearing, what decisions right or wrong you have made in the past, how long or short you have been attending our services as a visitor, what other churches you have attended before, or any other criteria you may think of. If you truly in your heart believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God, and that he is your Lord and Savior then come forward during the invitation to discipleship and you’re in. No test, no application fee, no creed to recite, you are now a disciple and a full member of Park View Christian Church.
To give a little history on why it is so simple to join the Disciples of Christ, we need to turn to our origins during the Restoration Movement on the American frontier in the early 19th century. The Restoration Movement was looking to get back to the basic teaching of the first church in the New Testament with one of the key slogans being “no creed but Christ.” As disciples we look to the first confession of faith from Peter in Matthew 16:13-17,
13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.
Peter confessed that Jesus was the Son of the living God and he was blessed. He took no test, recited no creed, and paid no entry fee to receive this blessing.
As Disciples of Christ we invite people to declare their belief in Jesus as the Christ, because that is what Peter did. We do not all need to be in the same place in our spiritual journey and knowledge of Jesus. We may even believe a little differently about certain things, and that is a good and healthy thing, but the one thing that we all believe is that Jesus is the Christ and he is our risen lord and savior!
Is membership necessary for salvation? NO! Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He did not say that no one comes to the
father except through the church. Your salvation is based on your personal belief and acceptance of Jesus Christ and has nothing to do with church membership. However, if you have accepted Jesus, then you have met the only membership criteria that we have. If you are reading this and have not yet become a member of our church, if you are so moved the next time you hear the invitation to discipleship at the end of the service please make that walk down the aisle. We would love to be able to call you a member in addition to a brother or sister in Christ.
Jason Chuma, Worship Chair