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Thank you for posting this and the interesting discussion.  In his book Deep and Wide, Andy Stanley describes how Northpoint Church uses volunteerism as a way to engage and enfold outsiders into the faith family.  He describes (if I remember correctly) how the unbelieving husband of a member was interested in volunteering for the praise band and participated for years before finally surrendering his life to Christ.  Of course those in leadership positions and positions of mentorship/discipling are held to higher standards but for other positions the standards are more relaxed.

I've been wrestling with this lately.  On one hand our expectation should be that members of the body are living according to the scriptures; on the other we are called to go and preach the gospel, even when the "go" might not be physically traveling to others. 

I'm interested to hear what other people think about Northpoint's model in comparison with the volunteering covenant above.


That is a very interesting and relevant question.  It seems many faith traditions have been lessening the emphasis on membership in recent years.  I'm not sure I can speak for the CRC specifically, and I'm certainly no expert on the topic, but I would would point to Q&A 54 of the Heidelberg Catechism which states "of this community I am and always will be a living member" as a starting point.

Perhaps the membership of the local congregation is less important than recognizing the membership of the Church universal and citizenship in the Kingdom of God.  John Locke argued that churches were "voluntary associations" whose members were free to come and go as they saw fit.  Locke and many thinkers of the enlightenment believed in empowering the individual (which at the time was desperately needed), but this thinking often gets carried to the point where any sort of collective group should not hold power over individual rights.  As Locke put it"everyone is orthodox to himself."

I would think that Christians would see our membership within the Church universal as not voluntary, but compulsory, based on our understanding of the commands of scriptures (e.g. Hebrews 10:24, I Peter 1:9). The local ecclesia (congregation) is given divinely-ordained authority (albeit below the authority of Christ), to whose authority its members submit.  It seems necessary to keep an account of those members to account for who is and isn't within the benefits and discipline of the community.

I hope we don't move away from recognizing the importance of membership, which might also reduce the position of the church as a body of authority in our lives.  Anyway, those are my thoughts on the topic.  Giving credit, they are largely based on David Koyzis, who has a very interesting blog I follow:
Article: Abraham Kuyper and the Pluralist Claims of the Liberal Project, Part 2: The Church as Voluntary Association
The church: Locke and the Heidelberg Catechism
Note: he uses the term "liberal" in the academic sense and not in the modern political alignment sense.

Interesting topic and worth a discussion.  I haven't investigated those resources but now I'll have to.

My first thought is that giving money is a form of worship (as is giving time and abilities).  One thing that old-school offering plates has going for it is it makes that act visible, tangible, physical, intentional, and integrated with our other forms of worship on Sundays.  With online giving the transaction can be less mindful, especially if it was automatic and scheduled.  Perhaps a compromise would be to place an RFID reader in the offering plate and have people tap their smartphones to it as it goes by (tongue in cheek of course).  Actually your idea of a kiosk, etc. would play well with this concept.

A while back when I looked into it, some platforms (I'm not sure about PAR or Bridge) were accompanied by a significant service fee.  It's important to change with the times, but it feels selfish to see a portion of my tithe go not to the work of the church for the sake of my own convenience.

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