Our modern individualist mindset makes it difficult for us to live into the biblical image of the Church as the body of Christ. In this issue our contributors explore the nature of our membership in Christ's body and its implications for the moral life.

Michelle Lee-Barnewall studies the rich Pauline metaphor of membership in its first-century context to show how our life together should be rooted in mutual belonging, love, and obedience. Lindsey Brigham and Wayne Martindale explain why C. S. Lewis affirmed that "the Church…alone can sustain the sort of membership in which human life is fulfilled." Commending contemporary novelist Wendell Berry's reflections on membership, Brent Latham writes, "Berry reminds us that membership comes to us as gift and chooses us by grace, eliciting and enabling our grateful choosing and giving as response."

Sometimes it is not easy to care for and encourage one another as members in Christ's body. We owe one another "mutual correction, which is the practice of giving and accepting counsel, admonishment, and rebuke as a form of spiritual rescue," Darin Davis writes. Patricia Snell Herzog surveys the variety of attitudes toward church membership among emerging adults.

The study guides and lesson plans integrate Bible study, prayer, and worship explore the nature of church membership and its implications for the Christian moral life. The guides can be used in a series or individually. You may download and reproduce them for personal or group use.

Download the entire Membership issue and the set of five Study Guides. Or, download individual pieces by clicking the titles below.



  • "Gathered to Listen," by Heidi J. Hornik, on Laura James's The Sermon on the Mount (2010)
  • "Working in Christ's Body," by Heidi J. Hornik, on Andrea di Bonaiuto's Allegory of the Active and Triumphant Church and of the Dominican Order

Hymns and Worship Service

Inspirational Pieces

Book Reviews

  • "How is the Body Ailing?" by Jeffrey W. Cary
    • G. Jeffrey MacDonald, Thieves in the Temple: The Christian Church and the Selling of the American Soul
    • Michael Budde, The Borders of Baptism: Identities, Allegiances, and the Church
    • William T. Cavanaugh, Migrations of the Holy: God, State, and the Political Meaning of the Church
  • "Mapping the Life Together," by Debra Dean Murphy
    • Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together and The Prayerbook of the Bible
    • Ben Witherington III, A Shared Christian Life
    • James C. Wilhoit, Spiritual Formation as if the Church Mattered
    • The Ekklesia Project, Church Membership

Study Guides and Lesson Plans (Download the set of five Study Guides)