IS CHURCH MEMBERSHIP REALLY THAT IMPORTANT?
New Testament Precedent
The Bible says in Acts 2:47 that the “Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” There was a specific group of people in each city that was the “church.” The Greek word for church is “called out ones.” You can’t be called out of something unless you are called into something else. That something else is the church. A group that could be numbered; that could be added to; that could be identified. The church was not some mystical group of people floating around in the community. It was a very identifiable group of people who were called out to be markedly different from the rest of their culture.
We are called into the church to experience relationship with one another. A word the Bible frequently uses is fellowship.
Acts 2:42 says the early church devoted itself to “fellowship.” That is a word that means caring for one another in a multitude of ways…from praying, to bearing burdens, to encouraging, to loving. It means caring for one another emotionally, spiritually and physically. This happens within the common group that is called the church.
The extending and receiving of love and fellowship can only happen when we are in contact with each other. That is why it says in Hebrews 10:25, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together…”
Fellowship – loving, supporting, encouraging relationship – happens primarily when we are together as a real, physical, identifiable group of believers.
When we become Christians, we also need to be connected for the purposes of accountability and authority.
Accountability and Authority
These are concepts and values that suffered greatly in the 90’s. However, the New Testament knows nothing of a Christian who is wandering around disconnected from other believers. It knows nothing of a believer who, like a part of the body, would survive for any period of time separated from that body.
So, we have several references to the idea of being in a body of believers and being under the care and authority of the leadership of that body. The writer of Hebrews instructs us in chapter 13:17 to “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden for that would be of no advantage to you.”
This is no reference to submitting to some group of individuals who are on a power trip. It is a body of leaders who have been selected by the church to prudently watch and care for those who are under their charge. To the elders in Ephesus Paul wrote, “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God which he bought with his own blood” (Acts 20:28)
The Bible teaches church discipline (Matthew18:15-17) which is to take place in the context of the local church. The Bible makes it clear that church discipline applies only to those “inside” the church (1 Corinthians 5:12). That means in the early church they knew who were members of the church and who were not.
Another reason membership in a local congregation is so important is for the purpose of ministry.
Every Christian has a spiritual gift that is to be used to serve others (1 Peter 4:10). We were not saved to sit, but saved to serve. We are called to minister to one another based on the giftedness we have received. This occurs most effectively within the context of the local church. There are many today that hop from church to church never getting plugged in and never serving. They want the blessing of the local church but they do not want to be part of it and share the load.
As we join with others in ministry, we become much more effective. We have a greater impact on the community and ultimately, have a greater witness for Christ.
Witness for Christ
By far, most people who find Christ do so because someone invited them to a church. It is difficult to invite someone to something to which you don’t belong. It is difficult to have credibility telling someone to be involved in the life of the church if we aren’t personally involved ourselves.
If we are going to have an effective witness to others for the church, Christ’s body, we need to be able to give a personal testimony of our own involvement. If we can say we have been a member of a church for a number of years and have been actively involved, that will say far more than just giving lip service.
Are you “plugged in”? Are you a member of a local church within your community? If not, find a Bible-believing church and get yourself attached as soon as possible. The dividends will be great and you will become a part of a family that will nurture and love you and through which you can extend Christ’s love to others.
WHAT IS CHURCH MEMBERSHIP ALL ABOUT?
America is made up of “rugged individualists.” Although this is a great concept for starting a country, it is not representative of the New Testament Church. To be a Christ follower is more than being a solitary believer… it is belonging.
Frequently, several questions are asked about the issue of church membership. For instance, “Why should I be a member of a local church?”, “What must I do to be a member?”, “Is membership really essential?”, “Can’t I be a Christian without being a church member?”
WHY SHOULD I BE A MEMBER OF A LOCAL CHURCH?
The church is a unique institution. It is the organism founded by Jesus which continues His work; the proclamation and demonstration of the Gospel to the world. Although many argue that there is a “mystical, worldwide” body of believers, this is true primarily in the theoretical sense, not in the biblical sense. In other words, when Paul addresses one of his letters to a church in a particular town, it was to a specific, local body of believers not a theoretical group of believers.
When we come “into Christ,” positionally we are saved. Practically, however, our salvation is worked out (Philippians 2:12) through our connection with a local body of believers. We see this over and over again. It is the New Testament precedent.
HOW DO I BECOME A MEMBER OF LAKE SAWYER CHRISTIAN CHURCH?
Although there is some evidence that letters of introduction were sent with some church members as they traveled from one community to another (Acts 18:27, Romans 16:1 & 2 Corinthians 3:1) the Bible does not spell out any hard and fast rules relative to membership requirements. Typically, they will vary somewhat from church to church. At Lake Sawyer Christian Church we require that someone desiring membership:
Want to become a member or just learn more about who we are, our vision, and core beliefs? Attend one of our Discover LSCC classes. Click HERE to view the class schedule and to sign up.
- Be a confessed believer in Christ.
- Have demonstrated belief through baptism (immersion).
- Attend a membership class (Discover LSCC) where we present information regarding:
a) Who we are and what we are about (our core beliefs and values).
b) How to grow in your faith.
c) How to “do” your faith.
d) How to share your faith.