Defining Welcome, Loved, Forgiven:
It has been stated in the bulletins of Green Mountain Bible Church for over a year now that at GMBC you are:
Welcome without judgement,
loved without condition &
forgiven without consequence.
Like any other blanket statement this can be interpreted differently depending on your view of the terms used. I want to take the opportunity to define this statement with the biblical language and view that is intended when it is stated in our bulletin.
Welcome without judgement is a statement that I strongly believe in and is echoed on the sign in front of the church which reads “All are Welcome.” What this means is that any person is welcome to attend our church, no matter how sinful they feel or appear. We know that every person in our church including me has sin (Romans 3:23). We also know that all sin is alike in that it separates us from God (Romans 6:23). However, not all sin is equal in the range of offense toward God (John 19:11), some sins are more grievous to Him than others. What this statement does not mean is that we as a church will allow sin to rule someone who is a part of our church. The longer someone is active in the church, the more their sin tendencies will be revealed. When this happens the most loving thing the church can do is confront the sinner, pray and hold that person to the biblical instruction of repentance from 1 John 1:8-10. We welcome all as they are, but like Jesus, we love them too much to leave them that way.
Loved without condition is a simple way to say, “It is the intent of GMBC to extend the love of Christ as He commanded us.” The ‘love’ referred to here is not a warm fuzzy feeling kind of love. Older versions of the bible actually translate the original greek word as ‘charity’. This is the intent of our statement, that we will consider others needs before our own (1 John 3:16-17). That love or charity was bought by Christ so there is no condition put on us to earn it.
Forgiven without consequence is the conclusion to biblical forgiveness as instructed in Matthew 18:15-20. When a sinner repents of an offense to the church, the church in turn forgives. The sinning member is then restored to fellowship in the church. This does not mean that there are not consequences for sin in the church. The reaction of sin should be first a “rebuke” (a loving confrontation) from an individual who is aware of the sin. Then “repentance” by the person in sin. And finally forgiveness, which means it not brought up again to anyone. If a person repents and turns from their sin it would be a disgrace for the church to have conditions and consequences in order for that person to be a part of the church. That being said, some sin issues (habits) take time to resolve and it would be irresponsible for the church to assume that the sin is overcome just at the verbal repentance of the offender. In these cases the congregation should appoint someone to lovingly oversee and encourage that person until their sin is clearly behind them.
–Pastor Neal, April, 2018