REASON #1 – COMMITMENT IS GOOD – People these days are commitma-phobic. Marriage, Kids, Jobs… In practically every area of life, our society views commitment as a thing to be feared. But we, as followers of Jesus, are part of a new society. Just as in a love relationship, courtship is fine; we all recognize that marriage is better. Formal membership is the way that you say to the church, “I want to be a part of this church – I believe her doctrine, I love her people, I want to serve in her ministries and I want to have a say in her direction.” Likewise, the church says to you, “We want you to be a part of this group. We love you. We are going to help you walk closely with Jesus.” It’s a mutual commitment. It’s good for you – it’s good for the church.
REASON #2 – IT PROTECTS YOU – Perhaps the most important reason to join a church is that the church provides a measure of spiritual safety and accountability for the Christian. If you haven’t noticed yet, humans sin a lot. Our hearts are prone to wander from God. The righteousness of Christ in us is continually at war with our selfish nature. The Christians who make up a church help spur each other on to righteous living. “If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” (Ecc 4:10)
REASON #3 – IT PLACES YOU SQUARELY “IN” – You may like to think of the church as a business, a non-profit organization or a social club, but according to the Bible, the church is like a family (1 Tim 3:15), a body (1 Corinthians 12) and a bride (Ephesians 5:22-23).
- If the church is a family, a Christian without a church is a spiritual orphan.
- If the church is a body, a Christian without a church is like a hand without an arm.
- If the church is a bride, a Christian without a church cannot be complete.
Today in the average church there is no way of telling who is part and who is not. Membership is obtained easily and means very little. At Pillar Church we prefer to have meaningful membership and to work hard to do all we can to help those who formally identify themselves as Pillar Church walk with Christ.
REASON #4 – LEADERS CANNOT OBEY THE SCRIPTURE – The Elders of every church have been assigned the task, “Shepherd the Flock of God” among you, but how can they do this if they don’t know who is a part of the “Flock of God”? They are told to discipline those who are blatantly rebellious toward God. We are told to “Expel the wicked man” (1 Cor 5:13) and to make the church aware of unrepentant participants (Matthew 18:17). But how can we obey these commands if cannot even tell who is part of the church and who is not?
REASON # 5 – THERE IS SCRIPTURAL SUPPORT FOR THE PRACTICE – There is no explicit command for formal church membership in the pages of the bible but that doesn’t mean that formal membership is not a biblical idea.
Throughout Old Testament history, God made a clear distinction between his people and the world (see Lev. 13:46, Num. 5:3, Deut. 7:3).
Christ says that entering the kingdom of God means being bound to the church “on earth” (Matt. 16:16-19; 18:17-19). Where do we see the church on earth? The local church.
The New Testament explicitly refers to some people being inside the church and some people being outside (1 Cor. 5:12-13). This is much more than a casual association.
The church in Corinth consisted of a definite number of believers, such that Paul could speak of a punishment exercised by the majority (2 Cor. 2:6).
Not only does the New Testament speak of the reality of church membership, but also the dozens of “one anothers” are written to local churches, which fill out our understanding of what church membership should practically look like. (Reason #5 from 9Marks)