Maybe you love Jesus, but are not sure what you think about church membership. For sure, being a member of a church does not save a person, for salvation is only by grace, through faith in Christ. Yet the Bible does teach that church membership is important. Consider the following reasons.
The church is very precious to Jesus
· Jesus Christ “loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Ephesians 5:25). He did this by dying on the cross and rising again.
· While He was on earth, Jesus Christ said, “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). The church is not just a human organization, but Christ’s.
· When someone repents of their sins and believes in Christ as their Savior, they become a part of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). The body of Christ is called the universal church.
· Christ is head of the church (Ephesian 2:20). He is the one in charge.
· Local churches are expressions of the universal church. Much of the use of the word church in the NT is within the context of the local church. Through the New Testament, we learn from Jesus the head, what the local church should be and do. The local church is not optional, but a very important part of God’s plan for this age (Ephesians 2-3, NT letters written to churches).
The New Testament assumes that every believer will be a part of a local church
· In the book of Acts, we read the record of the gospel being preached, people being saved, and these new believers gathering together to form churches (for example Acts 11:22-26, 14:21-23, Acts 16 –Philippians, Acts 17 –Thessalonica).
· There are at least 45 distinct ‘one another’ commands given in Scripture as to how believers ought to treat each other, and all of these ‘one another’ commands are within the context of the local church (either in letters to local churches or to leaders within local churches). A believer cannot fulfill these commands apart from being part of a local church.
Biblical examples of church membership
· In 1 Timothy 5, the local church in Ephesus was instructed to take care of their widows according to certain guidelines. They would have known who was a part of them, to whom they were responsible, and to whom they were not responsible.
· In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul counsels the church in Corinth to exclude an unrepentant man who was living in sin. They were to exclude this man from their local church because of his sinful, unrepentant lifestyle. This man could not have been formally excluded if he was not formally included at some point. The church had a responsibility to those who were inside (part of the local church). Later in 2 Corinthians 2:6, Paul refers to the ‘punishment that was inflicted by the majority’ in reference to this unrepentant man. The majority indicates that there was a defined group of people –people who were members of the local church in Corinth. Paul then went on in vss. 7-8 to encourage the church to welcome back this repentant man. This is always the goal of church discipline, that a believer will repent of his or her sin and return to be in fellowship again with his or her local church.
· In Hebrews 13:17, believers are called upon to “Obey those who rule over you and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account.” In this, believers are responsible to know who their leader is and to joyfully follow him, but also that the leader knows those for whom he will be accountable to God. Also, in Acts 20:28 the pastors from Ephesus were admonished to “take heed to yourselves and to all the flock.” How could these pastors fulfill their responsibilities to shepherd the flock unless they knew who was a part of the flock and who was not?
Biblical reasons why a believer should officially join a local church
· Church membership is a commitment to a local church in a particular location. It is more than just checking a box, but making a commitment to be a part of what is important to God and a part of the people Christ has gathered together there. While every believer is part of the universal church, God wants believers to be part of a local church.
· Church membership means that you are taking responsibility. You are saying that you will commit to be faithful in gathering together, giving, praying, and serving. You are saying that it is here in particular that you fulfill the “one another” commands of Scripture.
· Church membership is making yourself accountable to the local church. You are placing yourself under the authority of the local church for them to lead and guide you in your spiritual life. You are allowing others to help and encourage you in your walk with Christ, and to lovingly confront you as necessary.
· When you join a local church, you encourage the members and the leaders. Yes, they are not perfect, but you are committed to follow Christ together. You are saying "this is a place where I will grow and serve. I will love the people here. I am going to commit to this church."
Ø The church is very important to Jesus
Ø The New Testament assumes that every believer will be a part of a local church
Ø There are Biblical examples of church membership
Ø There are Biblical reasons to officially join a local church
Who should join a local church?
· Has placed their faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior –they are saved.
· Has been Biblically baptized –that is immersed in water as a public testimony of their faith in Jesus. If you have never been baptized, you need to be baptized.
· Agrees with the beliefs and goals of the church.
Prayerfully consider joining Calvary Baptist Church
Please contact Ben Hartwig at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.