Every now and then someone will want to know if the topic of church membership is in the Bible. And of course, the answer is no. I can’t point to any verse in the Bible that says “Join a local church.” Membership is a corporate term. When the Bible talks about being part of a church, it is in terms of being a family. That’s why we call each other brother and sister.
Membership developed as a practical matter. When people would come to a new town and start attending a local church, someone would want to know how to contact you. Where do you live? What do you do for a living? And when we started writing all of that stuff down, we ended up with membership. Yet, in other ways, membership is very much part of the conversation even though it is not specifically mentioned in the Bible. Paul says we are “members of each other.” And we are told to share our blessings and burdens. All of these and more are definitions of membership. They describe what it means to be a member. And, you know, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck. If we share mutual responsibilities and benefits, well, I guess that is membership.
What does strike me, however, is that a lot of people who debate me about church membership are looking for ways to avoid accountability. Some of these people don’t want to be asked hard questions about their relationship with Jesus Christ, or don’t want to be encouraged to go deeper in their walk. They want the benefits of membership (somebody bring me a casserole!) but they don’t want the obligations of membership (having to bake a casserole!). Regardless of how it started, we do know this. The Christian walk was never meant to be done solo. We need each other and membership is one way we lay claim to each other. Membership is how we tell the world who we are. And when Jesus comes back, I want Him to find me flying His flag high and proud. So, count me in. Yeah, I’m a member of the church, and membership certainly does have its privileges.
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