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Church Membership

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Why should you become a member of your local church? For many, attending and even being involved feels like enough. And while I would not want to downplay what a good thing regular attendance is, I would encourage every believer to consider becoming a member of a local Church. It doesn't involve secret handshakes or anything weird like that - it is simply making the commitment to call your church your home.

This is important for a few reasons. The first of which involves a word that some people are fearful of: CommitmentBecoming a member of a church makes a commitment to a particular place and people. You are saying, "these are my people, this is where I belong". You are not leaving your brothers and sisters and pastors to wonder where you stand - you are throwing your lot in with them. Here at Redeemer this is felt in all of its profundity when we affirm the church covenant:

As we trust we have been brought by divine grace to embrace the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the influence of His Spirit to give ourselves up to Him, so we do most solemnly covenant with each other, that God enabling us, We will walk together in brotherly love:

That we will exercise a Christian care and watchfulness over each other, and faithfully warn, rebuke and admonish one another as the case shall require; and in all things we will seek and guard the honour and the true function of the church;

That we will not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, nor omit the great duty of prayer, both for ourselves together, and for others; and for the enterprises of the Kingdom of God; 

That we will share in each other's joys, and endeavor with tenderness and sympathy, to bear each other's burdens and sorrows;

That we will seek divine aid to enable us to walk circumspectly and watchfully in the world, denying ungodliness and every worldly lust;

That we will endeavour by example and effort to win souls to Christ, and through life, amidst evil report and good report seek to live to the glory of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvellous light. 

It is a beautiful statement - and I've treasured saying these words and hearing my brothers and sisters say them as well. 

So here is the question - without church membership, without making a commitment like this, can your brothers and sisters count on you in this way? Or have you left one foot out the door, so that you can leave quickly and without much entanglement? It can feel constraining to become a member of a church, but it is crucial for long-term spiritual health. 

Which leads me to another reason why this is so important. And that is the issue of Accountability. To become a member is to become accountable to a particular body of believers. 

Biblically, there should be two lists of names in any given local church. A list of elders and a list of members. The people need to know who their leaders are, how else can they obey Hebrews 13:7,17? - "remember your leaders...imitate their faith...obey your leaders and submit to them" 

Now this is a serious question for any believer - are you seeking to obey Hebrews 13:7 and 13:17? Any born again Christian should immediately answer with a resounding "Yes, of course!". But how can you obey this when you don't belong to a particular church, or when you are church hopping or when you are just listening to sermons on YouTube? You need to write your name on the list and say, "I'm part of this church, these are my brothers, these are my leaders, please hold me accountable as a Christian." 

And the elders need to know who belongs to their particular church. While there can be many visitors, and while they will be cared for spiritually by the church, the elders need to know who their flock is. This is the other half of that verse (Hebrews 13:17) - "for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you."

So I would encourage anyone who has been attending a church for a while to become a member, provided that church is biblically faithful and you can in good conscience continue there. If you call Redeemer Baptist Church your home church you should consider membership. In an age that is commitment averse, what better way to stand with Christ and against the ways of the world, than to say "These are my people. This is my church. These are my elders. I am committed to be here."? In an age that hates accountability and authority, what better way to stand with Christ and against the ways of the world, than to say to fellow members and to your pastors, "Hold me accountable. Call me out if I wander into sin. Help me grow."?

And yes it is true that every Christian is a member of the body of Christ - the universal (small "c" catholic) church. And what a wonderful truth that is - Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. (1 Corinthians 12:27). But the question still remains - are you living in a particular local expression of that Body? Are you a member of a local church? Because it is in membership that we can really live out the beauty of being the Body. In the local church is where we can experience these truths: that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together. (1 Corinthians 12:25-26). This level of care and commitment that Paul lays out for us is not describing your friend group, your family, or your neighbourhood - it is describing the church. The Universal church? yes; but expressed most clearly in local churches.

So in conclusion - Join a church! Sign on the dotted line. Put a ring on it. Jump in with both feet. Why not? What are you waiting for?

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Comments 1

Guest - Dave Bowman

on Tuesday, 26 April 2022 13:34

A very helpful article.

A very helpful article.
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Wednesday, 24 April 2024