Tuesday, 18 June 2013

The Importance of Church Membership

Is there a difference between ATTENDING a church regularly and JOINING a church?  I believe there is.  Absolutely. Is there a difference between going with someone and marrying them? Absolutely.  The difference is vast and vital and valuable.

Church is thoroughly biblical.  We live in a world of evangelicalism where church is downgraded, devalued and downplayed.  Shame on us.  Many modern Christians are spectators of Christianity rather than participants.
  • They get their teaching from their favourite Christian celebrity through their iPad or from Christian events
  • They find worship communicated to them through Christian media.
  • They bounce from event to event, from website to website.
  • They don’t want regular commitment or accountability.
  • They ignore the ordinances of communion and baptism despite the clear command of God to do so.
  • They do not want to be accountable or disciplined or challenged.
  • They want the church to be there when they need it but they consider the latest Christian “big thing” as far more valuable than the faithful local church pastor who is trying to build the church in his locality
Many churches therefore have given up trying to enforce membership.  They no longer require it nor ask for it, they have given up on any biblical notion of challenging people to believe and belong;  to gather together as part of the local church.  We have often heard the phrase “a personal relationship” with Jesus Christ – far more biblical is the idea of 'a corporate relationship with Jesus Christ'.  He is the head of the church!  Paul wrote most of his letters to 'churches'.  They knew their members, they knew their names and their struggles.  In certain circumstances they were urged to put people out of the church.  How could they do that if they didn’t know who was in?  Membership is necessary.  The NT knows nothing of the idea of a Christina who has less than full commitment to the church.  Did Christ give less than full commitment to the church?  Are you threatened by the idea of church membership?  Why?  Because of hidden sin that might be exposed?  Because of how you might be challenged to serve or give?  Are these things really threats?  Should they not be joy?  Are you concerned that you might have to give up some independence?  That you might actually have to commit to turn up at 11 on a Sunday or to a prayer meeting when you would rather just 'make up your own mind' how to spend your time.  Isn't that just nonsense?

Here are a few (just a few) of the many, many benefits from church membership.  

  • Learn to live with other believers in community
  • Learn how to handle conflict in a biblical way
  • Find opportunities to serve and exercise gifts
  • Avail of the ordinances of baptism and membership
  • Have people to hold you accountable
  • Learn to be faithful, disciplined
  • Be part of a spiritual family
  • Receive spiritual benefit from others
  • Have authority figures in your life
  • Have spiritual caretakers
  • Receive solid teaching in a crazy world
This is an obedience issue, a fellowship issue, an authority issue, an identity issue

Do you want to be known as a Christian?  A member of the body?  A fellow believer with others?

Get into membership – you cant just keep on “going out” for ever


  1. Yes, I value membership - and am glad as a Christian many years ago I was encouraged to formally belong to a church. But if from September, when I'm getting married and moving full-time to Fermanagh and seeking a new church - do I keep my membership at NBC until I'm settled in a new church and then transfer, even though I'm not really part of it anymore, or do I suspend belonging to a certain church until I'm settled elsewhere? Blessings.


    Who is responsible for oversight of the church of Christ?

    First let us establish that Jesus Christ is head of His church.

    Colossians 1:13-18.....18 He is also head of the body, the church......

    Ephesians 5:23...as Christ also is the head of the church....

    The question remains who are the men responsible for the oversight of the Lord's church?

    Did God put a pastor, a bishop, an elder, or an overseer in charge of shepherding His church?

    Pastor, bishop, elder and overseer are the same office.

    Men were given the oversight of each, local, church of Christ.

    Acts 14:23 When they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they believed.

    Elders (plural) were appointed in each church congregation.

    Titus 1:5-7 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you.....7 For the overseer must be above reproach....

    Elders were appointed in every city where there was a church of Christ. Elders were also referred to as overseers (some translations use the word bishops).

    Acts 20:17-28 From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church.......28 Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.

    Notice: Elders (plural), and overseers (plural). Elders and overseers are used interchangeably and are told to shepherd the church.

    1 Peter 5:1-2 Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, 2 shepherd the flock of God among you exercising oversight...

    Note: Elders (plural), were told to shepherd the flock of God. Peter said he was one of the elders. Peter did not say he was the Pope or the Head Elder.

    Ephesians 4:11And He gave some......as pastors.....

    The word pastor means shepherd.

    Elder, bishop, overseer and pastor are all the same office and they are to shepherd the local churches of Christ.

    The oversight of the local church is to be a plurality of ELDERS (overseers, bishops, pastors).

    There is no mention in the Bible of one pastor ruling a single church. There is no Scripture indicating one man should rule a world wide church. There is nothing in the Bible that tells us to set up a church board to oversee the local church. God never set up different denominations to be ruled by groups of men. There is no office of Pope or priest mentioned under the New Covenant church of Christ.


    (All Scripture quotes from: NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE

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