Church Membership

from Grace Hills Church

from Grace Hills Church

We live in a world where joining organizations is becoming less and less popular.  It affects us in churches as we invite people to be members of our congregations.  The cultural resistance to joining comes into conflict with appeals to join a local congregation.  Recently I had a young friend who was visiting a church that she liked a lot, but was wondering if she needed to join write to me about joining.  Here is what I said:

Church membership is something that I hold in high regard. The New Testament says we should do something for ‘one another’ 59 times. I believe that speaks about the community nature of what God calls us to be. The Greek word we translate ‘church’ is ecclesia. It literally means ‘a gathering.’ One of my Greek professors used to say, “It could be people gathered together for a horse race.” In the case of scripture, it refers to the people God has gathered together in Jesus Christ. You and I become part of the ‘gathered’ people who were united by virtue of the work of Jesus Christ. So I would argue that joining a church is an act that recognizes that God has placed us into the group known as “God’s People.” {I Peter 2:10} . We are a part of a people who have received the grace of God because He has chosen us and not because we choose to be a part of that group. Following through by identifying with a local congregation is a public testimony acknowledging what God has already done.

You might ask “But this local church that I see here doesn’t look like the ‘perfect bride of Christ’?”  That’s correct.   The Church is not yet what we should and one day will be.   It is flawed and has imperfect people in it (me included). In the Book of Acts we see a number of dis-ingenuous believers that were a part of that church as well. None-the-less it is still the church and the Holy Spirit was still working through it. Any local church is going to have flaws. The church of Jesus Christ has indeed had many sorry chapters in her life. God still claims it just as He claims us even though our transformation is not complete either.

In the same way, the local church is incomplete without you. You have gifts and talents God wants you to use in a local congregation. That

From RDS Advantage

From RDS Advantage

congrefation will be less able to do what God is calling them to do without the resources He has placed within you if you withhold them. I like to say that when you decide to follow Christ, He wraps you up and gives you to His church (whether or not you want it or they want you 😉 ). You cannot achieve the fullness of what God calls you to be without the church and the church cannot fully fulfill its mission in the world without you.

I believe that claiming the local church is akin to claiming the promise of God in Christ; it is part of the package.

I also should have pointed out that it is from the membership that churches draw officers and teachers.  By being numbered among the members, you can have impact on the direction a local church takes beyond just supporting it with your presence and your offerings.  The church needs you to be complete and I believe you need the church too if you are one of Christ’s.

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