The Church That Tells You Where You Are Allowed To Go To Church

I’m a fan of ecclesiology, the doctrine of the Church and how it operates in the lives of God’s people. Good ecclesiology in a local church helps it to fulfill its scriptural mandate to be a place of comfort and compassion (2 Corinthians 1:3-7), a place where encouragement (1 Thessalonians 5:11) helps God’s people grow in knowledge and faith (1 Corinthians 14:3, 31), all for the glory of God.

As an individual member of God’s family, he has given you responsibilities within the church as well. You are to gather with other believers for mutual edification and encouragement. (Hebrews 10:24-25.) Every member of the church is a royal priest (1 Peter 2:9), and you are commended for discerning whether those who teach are staying true to Scripture. (Acts 17:11.) As a member of the Church, you are responsible for looking into the origin of everything you encounter to see whether it is of God or not:

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1.)

Sadly, some local church leaders bury the purposes of the church and responsibilities of its members beneath rules that have nothing to do with the church’s mission.

When Arrogance Replaces Ecclesiology

One example of this mistaken ecclesiology is found in a set of rules posted by a church in Texas: Reconciliation and Church Discipline Policy – Resolving conflict, addressing sin, maintaining unity and how to leave a church. It’s the part concerning when a member is allowed to stop attending this church that concern me most, as they usurp the responsibility of church members and arrogate all power to the leaders.


It is our hope that anyone that would leave [this] Church would do so in good standing with both our people and leadership and that they would be a benefit to another church. Therefore, we provide the following to help a departing member to leave in good standing.

Going to an approved church:

1. Members are always welcome to leave for either one of our church plants or another like-minded church plant where there is a called, qualified and competent pastor or an established and qualified plurality of elders. This assumes they are leaving with no unreconciled relationships, unconfessed sins – which includes gossip, defamation and divisive practices.

Once a member has made their intentions known through our departing member form and the form is clear of any “red flags”, we will gladly release a withdrawing member of any [church] commitments and consider them departed in good standing.

This option essentially says that if you are going to one of the pre-approved churches that they set up, you’re good to go as long as you’re not doing it for the wrong reasons. But make sure you fill out the paperwork first or you not only won’t be gladly released but you will still be under obligation to the original church.

Going because you’re moving away:

2. [This church]  also recognizes that in an area as transient as the DFW metroplex, people will move in and out as a matter of practice due to jobs, family, etc. Assuming a good record of membership, commitment and relational unity, we will almost always gladly bless anyone that’s moving to be released of their … commitments.

Again, we will still go through the process of leveraging our departing – member form. [Emphasis added.]

This second criteria is particularly troubling for its arbitrariness. If you are leaving for legitimate reasons and without any unresolved issues, the church leadership will “almost always” let you go. What would keep them from letting a person in good standing go? They don’t say, and that means there is no way to tell whether they have exercised their leadership according to their own rules.

And in any case, once again don’t forget to fill out the paperwork before you leave.

Going because of conflict:

3. Leaving [our church] as a way to avoid conflict or avoid a sin-issue is not simply a matter of leaving …, but a living, breathing picture of abandoning the Gospel – because that same Gospel has the promise of power in addressing sin and healing damaged relationships. If someone were to leave … without addressing a relational  conflict or a sin-issue, we could not give our blessing to such a departure until the conflict or sin-issue were settled. In such a situation, an individual or family would NOT be considered departed in good standing.

… At the minimum we hope to have the opportunity to have all former members complete a withdrawing member form.

Of course, some people do leave a congregation rather than confront and deal with their own issues. It may be, though, that God is leading them to a congregation that is better suited to help them with their issues. Who knows? But this leadership refuses to bless the person who leaves, and thus presumes to pass judgment on the person.

And again, even if you are leaving for all the wrong reasons you still need to hand in your paperwork first.

Going because of legitimate (but still leadership-approved) disagreement:

4. Absent of a clear abandonment of the Scriptures or doctrinal purity, leaving [this church] due to a disagreement on a secondary matter, matter of conscience or philosophy/approach of ministry (including personal preferences) without a clear, written or verbal explanation (and possible follow-up) will not be considered a departure in good standing.

Again, such a departure is actually an abandonment of the Gospel … not simply leaving a church. Failing to engage in difficult conversations or failing to place ourselves in the humble and vulnerable position of allowing our views to be challenged (and possibly changed) is a terrible testimony to what God has done for us in Jesus. The pastors of [this church] will make every effort to be patient, gentle and clear in any teaching that might be needed AND repentant when we’ve failed in our duties as shepherds and leaders.

If after difficult conversations, challenge and  teaching, it still seems clear that there is an unworkable impasse and everyone is relationally good, the … pastors will gladly release a member from their obligations on a case by case basis so that they can serve with a clear conscience in another church. Again, we will use our member withdrawal form to help guide us through these types of matters.

The leadership promises that if they are the ones at fault doctrinally or relationally they will humbly change their ways. And if they don’t agree to change, they promise to let you go with their blessing as long as everyone is in a good relationship with one another. And as long as you fill out the paperwork.

But this rule, like the others, is stacked against the member. It is up to the leadership to decide who has the right doctrine. It is up to the leadership to determine if you are in a right relationship with them or not. And if you leave without their approval, they insist you are not only rejecting their leadership but the very gospel of Christ itself.

You are not Subject to Anyone’s Judgment but God’s

Don’t let them judge you. Remember the position God has put you in as a priest and the responsibility he has given you to test whether something is of God or not. That includes determining whether a particular church is spiritually healthy and nourishing.

As you carry out that responsibility, remember the words of Paul, whose commitment to the Church is without blemish and whose example we would do well to follow:

Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God. (1 Corinthians 4:2-5.)

As Paul said, don’t rely on a clear conscience but on God. After all, it is the finished work of Christ that places us in a right relationship with God and his people. Notice too that Paul does not say that your decisions will be judged and condemned. He says you will be judged and receive praise from God. (This doesn’t mean God will praise your bad decisions, of course, but you are certainly free from God’s condemnation for them according to Romans 8:1.)

Don’t subject yourself to anyone else’s judgment but God’s. Others – including some in church leadership, apparently – will condemn you, but God’s judgment leads to praise.


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75 Responses to The Church That Tells You Where You Are Allowed To Go To Church

  1. janehinrichs says:

    Uggggg…..those rules give me the willies!

  2. Gary W says:

    We are called out (ekklesia) in freedom, not bound together(synagogue) by obligation. It is noteworthy that these people may–or may not–condescend to release congregants, not from relationship, but from commitment. It is all about entitlement, power and control. A husband who is obsessed with entitlement, power and control will abuse his wife and children, making them subjugated targets in a relationship that is not marriage. Where “church” (synagogue) leaders deem themselves entitled to wield power and control over the laity, the laity will become subjugated targets in a relationship that is not church (ekklesia).

    • Tim says:

      :not from relationship, but from commitment” – that’s exactly what’s missing from the rules, Gary. There’s no sense of relationship, just control. The leadership gets to make all the decisions about the members and the members get to prove their commitment to the leadership by acquiescing to those decisions.

  3. Jeremy M. says:

    Reading through these rules really makes me wonder how they enforce these? Maybe I don’t really want to know. It kind of just sounds like they’re saying “If you leave us we’ll tell anyone who asks us how terrible you are.” Which is of course a very mature way to handle things.

    • Tim says:

      The enforcement, from what I can tell, is lack of fellowship: “You are no longer one of us.” Some churches take this so far as to tell their members not to associate with someone who did not leave in good standing.

      • Jeremy M. says:

        I really don’t understand the mentality behind such a way of going about church. To think that only our church or affiliation of churches is “the true church” or however they would put it is really quite arrogant. It is just about control, which is just scary.

        • Tim says:

          Why they can’t just say “Bless you, let’s stay in touch” is beyond me. This document clearly gives the impression they consider themselves the one true way of doing church.

    • megaforte84 says:

      My first church didn’t send baptismal or other membership records when I left for a more liberal church. The secretary at the new one sent the record request twice, but there was never even the most basic form letter sent back. Supposedly all it takes is a request to get your Letter Of Membership according to that congregation’s bylaws, even if there is no next church, but they sure weren’t followed in my case.

      It turned out okay for me – the new church and every other that’s followed were willing to take my word I’d been baptized – but I have heard of people from other churches who couldn’t join elsewhere unless they were baptized again or groveled hard enough to the old pastor because of a requirement for documentation.

      • Tim says:

        That’s a horrible way to treat you and the church you started attending.

      • Heather G says:

        The whole concept of there even being “such a thing” as a “baptismal record” or a “membership record” is so completely foreign to me I don’t even know where to begin. Fellowship in Christ is not determined by a piece of paper that states the appropriate ritual has been performed on you. Fellowship in Christ is the matter of the Spirit bearing witness with our spirits that we are the children of God – and the recognition that one saint has with another when they hear the testimony of the living God upon a fellow siblings heart and lips.

    • justin says:

      The funny thing is they enforce them on a completely arbitrary basis. I was one of the original pastors here, in fact i was the first person appointed as a pastor/elder at this church at the ripe old age of 24 (a lot of elder maturity there, lol). After reaching an impasse with the other leaders, i stepped down from pastoral leadership after 7 years and my wife resigned her position as well.

      Since leaving, i have met with no less than 15-20 former members who tried to leave peaceably. EVERY situation was handled completely differently. I think the document drawn up was a way to create a gold standard for enforcing a consistent policy. That is what is funny about — [lead pastor] occasionally recognized similar issues (in this case — everyone was leaving) but always created potential solutions that came so far out of left field it left you scratching your head.

      • Tim says:

        That attempt to create a policy that fits all sizes is one of the disturbing things about rule making. They look to it as a means of protection, rather than looking to the Spirit for the security of the Body of Christ.

        • justin says:

          And they are not even shy about it…it’s the elders job to “protect” the church — but that usually means from its own people. I can think of multiple instances when information was not disclosed or even allowed to be discussed because it was not “protecting” the church to disclose it. But by “church”, essentially they meant “brand”.

  4. Erica M. says:

    I’m kind of curious as to what they would do if someone just up and left. Do they sit around and stew about it for a while before going on to lecture everyone else about “leaving in good standing”? Do they try to *find* the people who left? (Creepy scenario. Creepy, creepy scenario.) There’s a difference between addressing real concerns about someone’s departure (i.e. our old pastor discussing the doctrinal differences that led us to join the Orthodox church) and trying to maintain control over them no matter what.

    • Tim says:

      The rules explain that they will try to contact a person who leaves without explanation, but only if it is worth the church’s time.

  5. Jeannie says:

    I find it hard to believe that a church could, or would want to, exercise this level of control over people. And guilt, too: if I’m a member who’s considering leaving over a “secondary matter,” they’re telling me that I’m actually “abandoning the Gospel” and providing a “terrible testimony.” The whole approach seems to be that leaving a church is the unpardonable sin, and that anyone who would choose to leave probably doesn’t have a legitimate reason.

    • Tim says:

      The rules have guilt trip all over them, Jeannie. This is about who’s in control not relationship in the family of God.

    • Adam Shields says:

      I think it is also worth nothing that the pastor’s book on the gospel keeps adding in a lot of secondary issues as central to the gospel. Because his understanding of the gospel necessarily includes his understanding of scripture, any understanding of scripture that was different from his own, was a rejection of the gospel.

      Throughout the book, I just kept thinking that yes you are right, but then you went right on past what is right, and became wrong in your attempt to be more right. If you are interested here is my review of the Explicit Gospel.

      • Tim says:

        Adam, that review is excellent. Thanks for linking it and giving a balanced review of where Mr. Chandler got things right and where he steered the wrong way.

      • Anne Acker says:

        I’ve had one of his book sitting on my shelf for months until I got around to reading it. (I’d heard good things about it.) The latest news coming out of his church means the book is probably going in the trash. I’m creeped out by several things about this church.

  6. Gary W says:

    By making membership a Gospel issue, they have added a seventh sola, sola ekklesia, to the traditional five. The Wikipedia article on the Five Solas (or “Solae” as they put it) informs us that certain Anglican scholars have actually suggested adding sola ekklesia to the list. The sixth sola, according to my reckoning, is sola familia, which has its genesis in the fact that some are presenting their views on gender roles within families as being Gospel issues. Personally, I submit that it defies all logic to have more than a single sola. I will stick with Christ alone as my one and only sola.

    • Rebecca says:

      Very much enjoying and learning from your comments. Thanks GW.

    • Tim says:

      I’d be interested to know why sola ekklesia is even needed. We are in the body/church as a matter of course. It’s not something we choose among various options. It’s an organic matter, not an organizational one. (I actually just started writing a post last night that will look into this somewhat.)

  7. ericpaz says:

    So “Leaving our church = Abandoning the Gospel”? Let the “leavings” cancel each other out, and the equation is revealed to be “Our church = the Gospel.”

    • Tim says:

      Oh my word but that’s excellent, Eric. Just put it on Twitter.

    • Julie Anne says:

      Exactly – do you see the way they elevate themselves to god-like status? They forget the priesthood of Believers is sitting in their pews and also outsisde the walls of their church in many other churches that don’t exactly look like theirs.

    • Aimee Byrd says:

      Yes! Pastor=pope. I have some people I care about in a church like this. Their baptism from their previous church was not accepted. Only people baptized in their church ( baptist church) were able to become members, and only members of their church could take communion.
      Tim, I like how this article is addressed to us, responsible congregants. It is our responsibility to look into these sorts of things and be discerning about the churches we join.

      • Tim says:

        Thanks, Aimee. The Body of Christ is huge, and each congregation is but a small part of it. For them to decide who gets to attend where and who is worthy of communion is just nuts. I figure every church I attend is home, even if it’s just a one-shot deal when I’m traveling, and if the people there don’t think so then they are the ones who need to change their ecclesiology.

    • justin says:

      But gospel to these people doesn’t mean the “good news” of Jesus and His kingdom. It means anything they want it to be. It essentially becomes a magical word/thought potent for branding. I have used “gospel” used as a noun such as above, an adjective such as “gospel-centered add your activity” and a verb/gerund, something. I literally heard a sermon once where the pastor asked if we were “gospeling one another”.

  8. Rev. Carlene Appel, MDiv. says:

    Creepy! For a hilarious parody of churches like this, go to You Tune and watch: “What if Starbucks Marketed like a Church” I happened upon this one while watching a You Tube “parody of a modern church service”

    • Tim says:

      I remember that coffee house/church marketing parody. The regulars all had frequent coffee/fellowship cards or something. Too close to the mark!

  9. Pastor Bob says:

    This is a true story. Names if used are not correct.
    The man was to take his family with him to serve in a diplomatic position, farewell parties were held, everything packed, and then the day of the move. he tells his wife that she and the children are not going with. “God told him to go without her and the children.” He used this opportunity to abandon his family!
    He is in the military, he was a leader in the church. Rushed interventions, Godly questions and rebukes, he left. Move forward 6 months.
    I met a man who came here on diplomatic assignment from the country man #1 went to. It became clear that the mistress was being presented as the wife. Man #2 was a strong believer, met with the still married “real wife” and promptly alerted the church that man #1 attended. The church wrote a letter that was faxed over to the new church, he was confronted and left.

    No church references, man #1 made a fool of himself in another country, made his host country look bad, his home country look bad, and while not an international incident, the problem was clear. How to identify this type of person? References, letter of transfer, a good start.

    The example above seems to be a response to the problem I brought out. Sadly it looks a bit of over-response. The rock hitting the water gives of ripples that go a long way.

    • Tim says:

      I bet the situation you encountered was handled without the need for extensive rules, PB. And it sounds like the abandoned family was well supported by their church.

      • Pastor Bob says:

        Guess who was a strong father figure for these kids……
        === ALL are doing good, and have a history of good decisions.

    • Velour says:

      If the man who bailed on his wife and kids was in the military, why wasn’t he reported to his military superiors? That’s grounds for military discipline.

      • Tim says:

        Pastor Bob’s point was to discuss how this was handled among Christians. That’s probably why he’s silent on the military aspect; we don’t know one way or the other if the man was reported because it’s beside the point Pastor Bob was getting at.

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  11. Reminds me of the line, “If I’d was designed to be controlled, I’d have come with a remote!” 😛

  12. govpappy says:

    What’s fun about these things is that when the leadership is being the loving church we’re called to be, this stuff really wouldn’t be a big issue or even come up at all. It’s only an issue when someone in leadership is power-hungry and/or abusive, and then the church members are actually helpless – the document is stacked against them.
    It’s a bit like Complementarianism. If the husband is being the perfectly loving head he’s called to be by comp. standards, there’s no abuse and the relationship works. It’s only a problem when there’s a lack of love by the husband, and then the deck is heavily stacked against the wife. She gets misery, the short end of the stick. A lot of the comp folks I know would be in a perfectly happy relationship even if they completely ditched the headship/submission dynamic, because they both actually love each other.

    That’s what bothers me about this. This document may not screw up a single life for a long time in a church. The members flock, the church grows, leadership expands, but odds are you might get a bad apple at the top of the barrel eventually. Abuse happens, and suddenly the document reveals itself to be the loaded gun it always was, in the hands of a power-tripping pastor or elder. It’s sneaky.

    Does my analogy make sense? It’s kind been buzzing in my head for awhile now.

    • Tim says:

      That makes complete sense, Pappy. One of the pastors at the church this document governs tweeted that all they really want to do is find out why people might be leaving. You don’t need a four page policy for that. You just need a conversation. ________________________________________

      • govpappy says:

        Exactly! Get to know people, and membership is a dead letter. Story time….

        Missus and I tried going to a seemingly solid church in town for a few months, and all was well. Wasn’t really thinking of joining at the time; just looking to get fed, enjoy the services, see what they were about, and get to know some folks. What started slowly turning us off was things like people kept trying to get the missus’ phone number when they barely met her (don’t move fast on introverts!) and the elders would ask me to remind them of my name right before asking if we had considered joining the church. We pretty much stopped going right after that.

        What the heck? Get to know me! Get to know my wife! You have no idea who we are. You barely know my name! It’s in your best interest no matter how you spin it to get to know me before you want me on the roll, so why push membership before the knowing??
        How did this membership BS sneak in and become of such importance? WHO CARES about membership? No wonder you gotta draw up all this membership covenant BS to avoid lawsuits – you’re not taking the time to get to know the people that come through the doors before pressuring them to fasten their spiritual seatbelts.

        I just don’t understand this dynamic in these churches. Why would you try to codify what should be an organic thing? You can’t force this stuff. Either you know who I am and what I’m about and my character, or you don’t, and you need to – what the heck does pushing membership have to do with this? All it did was chase me and my wife off. So bravo. Carry on. Your church model is dead to me.

  13. Ruth says:

    Timely article. Sadly, some of this secretive, dominating behaviour is creeping into my beloved home church. We have a new minister who is not like this at all, I think it will take him time to feel the pressure from a small group of older males. No women in leadership now, where we used to have many, less women even serving communion, more being relegated to the kitchen. One pastor who is very open and equal has been shuffled off to a church plant some distance away, however, many of us will be going to some services there to support and enjoy his ministry.
    We also have home groups that include people from outside our church…gasp….and several elders insisted that they be asked to leave, and we must follow a church programme and our fearless leader turn up once a week to report on the group! Well that fell Ina heap. What are they going to do, barricade the doors at every home, send us emails, tell the congregation we are naughty, so ridiculous we just keep on going and those men went elsewhere to try it on.
    We mature age women are taking a quiet stand, and encouraging younger church goers to ignore the silliness from above-or is that below? Subversive we may be, but we are too long in the tooth to be ordered about like toddlers by a despotic kinder teacher (sorry any teachers reading this),
    Prayer to unbind the hold growing in our church is our best weapon, and a good loud laugh mixed with a confident attitude signals our unity without confronting anyone, thankfully, many men don’t like the bossy few either. By the way we don’t laugh at anyone, we just keep ourselves noticed and as uncpmlementarian as possible. If God tells me what to do I surely give thanks, and get on with it. Suppose it shows that I am a teacher, mother, wife, business owner, carer, and most of all say ….Jesus rules!

    • Tim says:

      Ruth, it sounds like you are handling that well. When so called leaders are trying something so ridiculous, the best thing to do is keep doing what you’re doing and if they ask why just tell them it’s what God is leading you to do. ________________________________________

      • Bill M says:

        The crazy part is that if you resist this divisive nonsense, you are the one that will be labeled divisive.

        • Ruth says:

          Not a bad label Bill, if you like keeping up the resistance. Must say I do. Going in to bat for other peoples well being and dignity is a right we still have in some places, I think if we don’t use it, we lose it. 🙂

        • Tim says:

          Good point, Bill. Point out their problematic procedures and your the one labeled as a problem maker.

      • Ruth says:

        Thanks Tim. God has His ways, sometimes quite interesting ones. I don’t suppose’s a free country, or cause I want to, or mind your business..would be very apropo, but to tell of Gods leading is a positive thing. I think the mini- rebel in me goes into overdrive when I see injustice or unkindness.

  14. If someone thinks they have authority to ‘release’ you it points to a sense of ownership and offence that you may wish to be elsewhere than under their control. It’s scary that this is actually the Bride of Christ they’re talking about ‘releasing’ to go to another church situation. I don’t know if this church leadership is officially complementarian, but treating the Bride of Christ with a sense of personal ownership pretty much reveals how women would be treated by that leadership.

    • govpappy says:

      Yes, this. We’re bought with a price, by Christ. Not the local church. Can we not confuse His Body with a local assembly? Putting me out of the local assembly does not mean I’m out of the Body of Christ, and bringing me in doesn’t bring me into the Body. Pastor Big Cheese Theologian doesn’t have the keys to my soul.

    • Tim says:

      Exactly, Cheryl. Who are they to say that a member of the body is unable to move from one assembly of body members to another? No one gave them that authority, and that’s where the arrogance shines brightly.

  15. I recall at a conference a few years ago someone asking the two speakers something along the lines of ‘what would you do if your church was demanding to see all your bank statements, to make sure you’re “tithing correctly”, before you’re allowed to become a member?’. Thankfully, the answers from Adrian Plass and Jeff Lucas were short and simple: ‘leave’. To which Jeff added, “Why would you want to be in a church like that in the first place?”

  16. J. Inglis says:

    The blog post and comments read to me like out of context slagging of a church that is trying to follow Jesus. Rules are not bad per se, and we have thousands of them in all areas of our life because they add clarity, set out agreed expectations, help resolve conflict, etc. Furthermore, rules are merely ink on paper unless they are given life through the actions of people. The particular rules listed could be acted out in an oppressive manner, or they could be acted out in a spirit of love and commitment to each other and to Jesus. The boundaries of every rule are porous and flexible and generalized rules are not capable of dealing with every unique situation, of setting out ever possible exception, etc.

    When I read the rules I see a church that is trying to be invested in each other’s lives, that is serious about discipleship and commitment to Jesus, that cares where its members land, that cares about good doctrine and healthy leadership in the churches its members move to, that is serious about dealing with sin, that is committed to reconciliation among its members, etc.

    Lastly, the post slags a church using quotes that make it easy to google-search to find it, the author made no attempt to find out how the rules he dislikes actually work out in practice, and the author selectively quotes from a 4 page document in a way that presents the church in the worst possible light. He ignores such lines as:

    “we find it most important to be consistent with the scriptural principles on dealing with conflict and sin”

    “God holds us to account for everything, but we should show more discretion toward one another (Proverbs 19:11)”.

    “Part of the joy in maintaining God’s manner of reconciliation will be a distinct and attractive picture of how the Gospel of reconciliation addresses the many relational tensions that human beings experience.”

    • Tim says:

      J, I’m glad you sought out and read the whole document. You can see that while I did use portions, the portions I used fairly represent the section of the document on how to leave the church. As for seeing rules and thinking they could be used in a benevolent manner, the Bible says that adding rules to the life of God’s people always leads to oppression. A christian can have the best of intentions, as the Pharisees did, but rules of conduct won’t work.

      “These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings.” Colossians 2:22.

  17. Is it even legal for the church to prevent someone from leaving if they wish?

    Disturbing result of these “rules” in action. Completely misguided, spiritual abuse of Godly women.

    • Tim says:

      I just finished reading that and left a comment on MPT’s blog about it when I saw you’d posted the link here for my readers already, TiC. Thanks. Tomorrow I’ll be posting my own take on the horrible ecclesiology that leads to the things MPT wrote about in churches with “Covenant Members”.

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  21. Jackie King says:

    We know the problem,so what is the solution?How do we go about finding a non 501c3,no church membership/covenant agreement biblical church?Just started visiting a local church out of a need for fellowship(I’ve been an internet christian for a while)and ran into this same issue abandonment is a sin that can send me to hell,pastor not responsible for souls of non-members,etc..I guess it’s back to the internet!

    • Tim says:

      I think the solution is to keep looking. I don’t know about non 501c3, since most churches will have that status, but it doesn’t mean they push membership covenants. The church we are at now doesn’t have that, and the one we went to for decades before that doesn’t either. Both are nurturing gatherings of God’s people.

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