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March 16, 2006

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Hey Tim,

My name is Tom and I'm in South Africa. We started a community called Kleipot Gemeente three years ago and we're in the process of rethinking through our membership process.

I'm really interested in the details of what you discussed with your class and wondered if there is any way in which you can share it with me?

Thanks for the post and I enjoyed surfing your site ...

Hi Tom, it's a pleasure to hear from you. I'm glad to learn of your church plant and would love to hear more. Do you have a website?

The comments in my post were largely focused on the conversion experience in a pre-Christendom era, but there are certainly implications for church membership as well. It appears that church membership was taken very seriously before Constantine changed the "rules." In practice, it seems that there were different levels of membership (i.e. attendees could stay for some portions of the service, but not for others). As church becomes decentralized and moves to the margins of society once again (at least in North America) it might be time to rethink membership and move toward a more serious understanding and a more committed practice (the opposite of what happened in the 1980s with the church growth movement, again in North America).

A very helpful and concise source for understanding the history of conversion (and thus membership) is Alan Kreider, The Change of Conversion and the Origin of Christendom, Harrisburg: Trinity Press International, 1999.

I would encourage its reading and would be glad to pick up on more specific questions and issues you have.

Tim

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