I am posting some comments on Elton Trueblood’s amazing book, “Alternative to Futility”. You can read the previous posts “the habit of adventure” and “being a demonstation”. In the third chapter Trueblood builds on his argument that faith needs to be embodied in a redemptive adventurous and experimental society. In this chapter he discusses the vital importance of a fellowship or order that takes membership seriously. I first came across Trubloods’ name when we revamped membership in Claypot in 2005. He wrote the foreward to Church of the Savior’s book, “A call to commitment.” But now back to the chapter. He states that,

“The chief reason why the church as we know it is not more effective than it is, is the fact that membership has become almost meaningless. Once “member” wa a glorious word, signifying a real interpertation of lives for a noble purpose, but now the figure of speech has worn smooth. Membership is now largely paper membership”.

He therefore proposes,

“If we seek renewal of life one way to advance lies in the direction of veracity in membership”. Let us begin, therefore, by outlining the minimum conditions of membership in the new order which is coming into being so rapidly and which some of us aspire to belong.”

What do you think, do you agree that we need a veracity in membership?

He proposes five minimum conditions for membership:

  • commitment – “willingness to take the plunge, to run the risk of seeming ridiculous if we turn out to be wrong … We seek groups of genuinely committed men and women, men and women who continue to be perplexed and doubtful in many areas of their experience but who are willing to follow onemajor clue wherever it may lead.” We are commited to following the clue of Jesus.
  • witness – “If it is the whole company of committed souls who are the salt of the earth, it follows that they must be unapologetic in making their witness before the world p.65… What we seek then is the Fellowship of the Unashamed.”p.68
  • fellowship“Unless it involves fellowship that is deep and inclusive, church membership is always nominal rather than real.”p68 “If a redemptive society has reality, the members will not allow one single member to struggle alone with a financial difficulty”p.72
  • vocation“It means that all true members must be fountains, not cisterns. It means that all true members must be willing to think of himself (herself) as engaged in the ministry, by a divine imperative. If ‘member’ is to regain positive significance in our vocabulary, we must think of all recruits as entering a new estate, beyond clergy and beyond laity. In the new order there are no clergymen and no laymen, but all are engaged in the same divive vocation, which means putting the claims of the Kingdom of God first, no matter what profession one may follow. The formula is that vocation has priority over profession.”p73
  • disciplineHe discusses discipline in the next chapter …

What do you think of these four criteria? What would you add, or take away?

How are you influenced by memberships in different spheres of your life?