The following is an excerpt from the Karis Church Membership Class curriculum. The next meeting, Session III, will be held on March 24th. Karis is a relational church. This means that we live together, as a local church, in light of God and His gospel. We live in an increasingly consumeristic, individualistic, and isolated culture. We think of ourselves more as consumers rather than contributors, more as individuals than as part of a community, finding ourselves tragically lonely amidst a multitude of choices. We also see this in today’s church where Christians seek out religious “goods and services” in a competitive church “market,” even looking to several different churches, if necessary. We see professing believers finding religion primarily in terms of a personal relationship only, not understanding themselves as called to contribute to a flourishing Christian community.
As a result, alongside an increasingly individualistic, consumeristic Christianity, we see people who claim Christ as Lord experiencing a deep longing for, and a tragic absence of, deep, rich relationships. This is what most Christians look like and experience today. And churches have catered to it and thus perpetuated it.
Against this cultural and Christian backdrop, Karis strives to live together as a gospel community. We teach that healthy church relationships are God’s good intention for us as His people. We understand those relationships as the primary sphere of ministry in the local church. We don’t see them as part of the church, but rather as the church. We seek to structure Karis around relationships over programs. They are, we’d argue, the primary means by which the Holy Spirit sanctifies us. Church is where we learn to “get” the gospel. Therefore, community is quite hard. But it’s worth it as we experience more and more of the joy of that gospel together to the glory of God. We are relational.