Belonging before Belief?

Brent Thomas tackles some tough questions that sprung from his reading of Jim Belcher's book, Deep Church: A Third Way Beyond Emerging and Traditional.   Here's the two big questions he asks his readers to consider:

Should churches focus on the center rather than the boundaries? Should we allow those with doctrinal differences, or even more, those who don’t yet believe into our community?

Brent defines community as "not the “Church” in the technical sense of Believers, but in the general sense of a Gospel-centered community." For example, he says, "Jesus knew that many who followed Him didn’t truly believe, but He still created community for them."

Here's my two cents ... and that's about all it is as I have much to learn on these issues!

1. Should churches focus on the center rather than the boundaries?

Churches must focus on the gospel as the center of everything they do.  Because the gospel means different things to different people we need to flesh it out.  As we flesh it out and define what we mean by the gospel, boundaries inevitably will ensue.  So yes, we must focus on the center and on the boundaries as these boundaries help clarify what we mean by the gospel and influence what we do as a community of believers. 

2. Should we allow those with doctrinal differences, or even more, those who don’t yet believe into our community?

I think the church should be a safe place for people to explore what they believe in the context of a gospel-sensitive, gospel-centered community.  And yet we must speak the truth in love and shepherd everyone with the convictions we hold from Scripture "until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God" (Eph. 4:13).

What do you think?