Church membership is important to your ongoing spiritual growth in Christ. We will look at four reasons why you need to join a local, Biblical church.
I. Membership in a Local Church Establishes Your Commitment to Christ and the Local Church.
Consistently in the gospels, Jesus Christ calls you to a commitment to Himself and to His will for your life. Followers of Christ are marked by their commitment to Christ.
If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
Swimming Against The Cultural Current! Nevertheless, the culture in which you live opposes the idea of commitment. The tension that you face is that your culture calls for convenience (only do what you happen to “feel” like at the moment). And your culture calls for consumerism (which leads to a selfish focus—“what’s in it for me?” instead of a serving focus—“what can I do?”). This has led to many people thinking that they can simply “attend” a church and not get involved with commitment and ministry. Others simply like to follow whatever happens to be “hot” at the given time. Instead of deepening their roots spiritually, this approach encourages shallow lives and superficial relationships. If you are going to show your commitment to Christ, then you need to see that church membership is a vital step in establishing that commitment to Christ and to His goals for your life.
Acts 2:41-42 gives to us the proper pattern for church membership: "Those who accepted his message were baptized…They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer."
What Is The Biblical Pattern? Salvation is followed by baptism, which is followed by commitment to membership in the Church. The truth is, Jesus never asked people to go to church. Jesus Christ asked people to join a family, a community, a body. That family is the local church. Church is not a weekly requirement of an hour or so. Rather, God has designed the church family to be an essential part of your daily growth.
II. Membership in a Local Church Places You Under the Proper Authority.
You are to be under the authority that God has set up for your own protection.
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.
How can you obey this command of Scripture if you are not committed to a local church? It is clear that this verse assumes that you have a committed relationship to a local, Biblical church. The leaders are given to you to keep watch over you. This protection and care that you need cannot be administered to the level of maximum benefit if there is no commitment.
You are also to be under the authority that God has set up for ministry affirmation.
Although this is regrettably abused so often today, every Christian ministry should operate under the direction of a local church. In Acts 13:1-3, the early church commissioned the first official missionaries. Paul and Barnabas came back to that church (Acts 14:26-27) and gave an accounting of their ministry. This is done for the doctrinal and personal protection of both the people who are asked to support the ministry and the people who are involved in the ministry.
III. Membership in a Local Church Provides You with the Means of Restoration.
Christians aren't perfect. So what happens when a person who claims to be a Christian is living in sin? It is the responsibility of the local church to restore this person back to spiritual health.
What Exactly Is The Church Supposed To Be? The church is not a museum where you come to show off your spirituality and “perfections.” The church is a hospital where you come to be bandaged, strengthened, and equipped in order to help others get bandaged, strengthened and equipped in order to help others. This is how Christ has set it up (Matthew 18:15-17; Galatians 6:1-2).
You need people who love you enough to help you with the areas of life in which you are failing. You need people who are going to speak the truth to you in a loving, genuinely concerned manner. If you do not learn the lessons that way, then the "hard knocks" of life will begin to take their toll.
The church family is a group of people who are learning and growing in their relationship to Christ. No one has "arrived" and achieved perfection. Therefore, no one person or group should act like God's gift to the world. One of the key attitudes that ought to mark a true local church is that of humility.
A genuine church will be concerned about the actual level of growing that its members are doing. If you are serious about your relationship to Christ, then you will want to be part of a group of believers who are committed to this goal.
IV. Membership in a Local Church Provides the Structure for Effective Spiritual Growth and Ministry.
Ephesians 4:11-16 teaches that God has equipped the local church with all of the people and tools that are necessary to do what God wants done. The people have the spiritual gifts, and the tools are found in the truths of the Word of God. Together, God uses these to grow His people spiritually and to teach them how to serve each other more effectively.
The goal of this is to have local churches where people do not bounce around from problem to problem (4:14), but instead learn how to solve problems God's way and also learn how to grow together.
God has equipped you with gifts that need to be sharpened and used in the local church. "Each part does its work" (4:16).
In order for you to do your part, you must become a part!
Have you committed yourself to becoming a member of a local, biblical ministry? In light of what we have looked at in this study, ask yourself--Can I (or my family) really afford not to make use of what The Head of the Church has provided for my growth?
Perhaps you have been involved in a local church in the past--but found it to be a painful experience. Perhaps you were in a situation where problems were not dealt with--only swept under the rug. Consequently problems were allowed to go unresolved--which often results in greater problems and wounded relationships. If so, the thought of getting involved in another local church might be a bit frightening. But do not allow the failure of one church to cause you to reject all others. The fact is--our Lord designed the church--both in its universal and local expressions. Therefore, the problem is not with churches per se, but with their understanding of (and/or commitment to) what the Head of the Church has set forth in His Word. Rather than rejecting the concept of commitment to a local church (based on a prior negative experience) why not consider becoming part of a church that is attempting to practice a biblical ministry. Here are some questions you should ask to help you determine their level of commitment:
What does your church understand its role and responsibility to be in helping people solve problems?
What is the commitment of this church in helping men to grow and change and lead their families?
What is this church doing to help people live out their responsibilities to each other as members of a common body related to a common Head? (See the “one another" passages in the New Testament--E.g. Love one another; encourage one another etc.)
How intentionally does this church seek to apply the Word of God to its entire ministry?