What’s the Deal with Church Membership?

I thought this was an interesting read that may be helpful to our readers…

by: Pastor Mark Driscoll on Jul 10, 2012 in Church

For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.

Ephesians 2:18–19

Should you become a member of a local church? To be as clear as possible: yes.

Jesus lived and died for the church (Eph. 5:25). In Christ, you are a member of the invisible church. In Christ, you are called to become a member of a local church.

The following is direct and indirect evidence from the New Testament on why I believe you should become a member of a local church.

Direct Evidence from the Early Church

Unless you have an agenda to disprove otherwise, observing that the early church had some level of membership is not hard to do. The following are seven evidences that the early church had a notion of membership.

They kept numerical records (Acts 2:37–47).
They kept records of widows (1 Tim. 5:3–16).
They held elections to appoint deacons (Acts 6:1–6).
They exercised church discipline (Matt. 18:15–20; 1 Cor. 5; Gal. 6:1).
Their leaders were responsible for giving an account of their leadership and the church was asked to submit to their leaders (Heb. 13:17).
They had an awareness of who was a church member (Rom. 16:1–16).
Most of the epistles were written “to the church” in given places (1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 2:1; Gal. 1:2; Eph. 1:2; Phil. 1:1; 1 Thess. 1:1 2 Thess. 1:1; Rev. 1:4).
To be capable of fulfilling any of these functions, the church had to be organized with some sort of membership.

Not only do we observe these direct evidences, but we can also glean indirect evidence from the letters of the New Testament.

Indirect Evidence from the New Testament

Salvation is an individual experience that leads to involvement with a new community, the church. The church in the New Testament is likened to a human body and a family.

When you are saved, the Holy Spirit integrates you into the Body of Christ. This means that you are now a part of Jesus’ body on earth, which is the church (1 Cor. 12:12–17).

Your work within the church is also compared to working together as a family (1 Tim. 3:15; 5:1–2). In Christ, you are adopted into God’s family. You are now his son or daughter and have a multitude of new brothers and sisters in Christ. In Christ, you are a member of a new family (Rom. 12:4–5; Eph. 2:18–19).

For the New Testament authors to use such metaphors to describe the church indicates that we should know who are the members of the body and family.

This post is adapted from Pastor Mark and Gerry Breshears’ book Vintage Church.

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