This Sunday we will begin a new members class for those interested in joining the church. That prompted me to write down some thoughts on “Why Church Membership Is Important: Six Reasons”
- Because the Bible Tells Me So. You cannot read the New Testament (or the Old Testament for that matter) and not come away with the conclusion that the people of God belonged to something and that something was the church. The church is the called-out people of God. Paul wrote at least six letters to local churches to encourage them in the their walk with Christ and commitment to the work of God through the local church. The entire book of Acts is devoted to the building of this new community called the local church and it is clear that those who came to faith in Jesus Christ belonged a local community of believers.
- A Place to Make a Public Profession of Faith. The Scriptures speak often of making a confession in the presence of witnesses. This confession that we make is that of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The local church is the public community that God has ordained to be the place we make our commitment to Christ and to the Gospel known to other brothers and sisters in Christ. The local church is uniquely equipped to identify true believers in Christ. This is all the more important in a culture that prides itself in self-authentication. It is the local church where we identify with a body of other believers and our profession is authenticated in a community.
- Spiritual Oversight Is God’s Plan for Your Life. We are all under authority in some way. Being under authority is God’s plan for our lives whether it be your parents, or your employer, but most especially our spiritual overseers. God has called and equipped men who are specifically set apart for Gospel ministry to serve as overseers and shepherds for a local flock. It is God’s plan for His people that they are accountable to one another and it is the local church that provides this accountability through the ministry of elders. It all comes down to this truth: spiritual oversight for your soul is God’s will for your life — the Christian life is incomplete without this blessing.
- Spiritual Growth Through the Sacraments. There are two very distinct and very purposeful sacraments that Jesus gave to His church: baptism and the Lord’s Supper (Communion). These are not ordinances that are to be celebrated or performed in any community other than that of the local church. Furthermore, these sacraments are necessary for our spiritual growth in Christ Jesus. It is through local church membership that we are invited to partake in these blessings through examination by the elders of the church.
- The Exercise of Spiritual Gifts. The Apostle Paul devoted an entire chapter to this important ministry, 1 Corinthians 12. Each person who is called of God has been given a gift from the Holy Spirit that is to be exercised in the local church for the building up of the members of the body. This is why the local church is compared to that of a human body. The human body needs all of its parts to function correctly. When the people of God are not exercising their gifts in the local church, then the body suffers. “But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.”
- Births, Weddings and Funerals. Very practically, the local church is the best place to raise a family with other believers. It is the place to marry in the Lord another believer. It is the best place where our family can be cared for once we depart to be the Lord. An ordained minister is rightly qualified to baptize and officiate weddings and funerals. Church membership provides access to these important life events.
See you Sunday!
Your friend and pastor,