Traditionalist churches tend to emphasize believing before belonging, and use doctrinal agreement as a gatekeeper to identify who's "in" and who is "not yet in" (also known in some circles as "out"). Emerging churches tend to emphasize "belonging before believing," partly for missional reasons (postmodern folk need to experience the reality of a community before they can embrace membership in it) and partly because they feel that this approach tracks more closely with what we see in the NT. Belcher describes an interesting situation in his own church. In the following quote, he refers to Joe, an openly gay man who has been attending Belcher's church regularly for two or three years:
So simply declaring that belonging precedes belief is not always helpful. What should I say to Joe tomorrow when he asks about membership? Can he officially join the church even if he can't subscribe to our four basic requirements for membership? What about the Lord's Supper? If he can't become a member because of his lifestyle, should he be able to participate in the Lord's Supper? How do I communicate our views? I want him to be increasingly drawn to the Well [i.e., to Jesus himself]. But I want to follow my conscience on biblical matters. I struggle with what to say. [Belcher, p. 97]
Belcher never makes clear how his subsequent conversations with Joe went. How would you have responded--or how have you in fact responded--to folks like Joe (not necessarily around the issue of homosexuality, but more broadly with a 'community member' whose life is either significantly heterodox or heteroprax [wrong belief and/or wrong living])?