It seems most churches in discussing which individuals are in good standing within their “boundaries of fellowship” use the pattern of:
Believe – Behave – Belong (meaning you have to believe certain tenants, behave in certain ways, and then you can belong).
This seems contrary to the ministry and example of Jesus, so at LSC, we follow a pattern that looks more like this:
Belong – Believe – Behave (meaning you are given a rightful place of belonging with Jesus, and from that position, you will find beliefs and behaviors change).
That is why we welcome without reservation MESSED UP people. And Living Stones Church has a lot of broken, sinful, messed up, “blew it royally” people suffering in everything you can imagine. But it is a directional thing.
They are headed towards Jesus. And we’ve got all the patience in the world for someone who is moving towards Jesus and along the is struggling with whatever.
What is entirely different, however, is when someone is moving away from Jesus. They have belonged to Jesus, they have had their thoughts transformed by Jesus, and their behavior lived in conformity to the Ways of Jesus, and now, they have decided to turn away from him and move in another direction.
In that, we have little patience. And don’t expect the Pastor to smile and say “everything is going to be OK.” Because it won’t be. You are moving AWAY from Jesus. And the end of that journey is NEVER O.K. And my call, with as much love and grace as I can muster, will be for you to repent and head back towards Him.
Direction is everything.