Church Membership

Posted: December 14, 2011 in Church Planting at Sojourn, Discipleship
Tags: , ,

Fixing Something I’ve Left Out

There are a few areas in church life which I feel I am not doing a good job in leading.  One of those areas is in our commitment to Christ and one another as a local body.  As you know, the Bible mentions the word ecclesia (church) 114 times.  The vast majority of these mentions is in relationship to a local body of believers.

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Check out Philippians 1:1, “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons.”  Here we have the word and even a description of the organization of that local church; overseers (pastor), deacons,  and saints (believers).  This, and many of the other 114 times show that believers joined together and met regularly as a church.  The many uses of the plural “you” and the Greek preposition “sun” (together with ones – remember the Dr. Pepper analogy) indicate that believers were together, unified and committed to one another.  The Bible clearly teaches that we should join with a local body of believers and commit to them. (see below “Biblical Basis for Church Membership”).

I’ve not done a good job of teaching this or of encouraging you in this area. So, let me encourage you to keep reading and to join Sojourn Church

Cultural Issues
Cults:  I know that some groups mess this up; that there are rules and requirements and lots of controlling (cult-like).  We don’t do that.

Institutions: I also know that culturally people don’t like institutions.  Let’s move beyond that; Jesus established this institution.

Commitment: I also know that culturally we have difficulty committing; we don’t want to get hurt and we always want to keep our options open.  Let’s move beyond this, also.  We’ll have to take a chance and trust Jesus, He’ll not let us down.

PS. Requirements for Membership

  1. Faith in Jesus Christ (a biblical salvation story)
  2. Baptism by immersion after your conversion experience.
I’ve copied the following from 9marks.org

Three Reasons to Join a Local Church

Join a church for the sake of non-Christians.

Church membership helps make the gospel clear to non-Christians by providing a unified witness of what it means to be a Christian.

Membership provides this unified witness by implementing a statement of faith, encouraging unity in doctrine, and a church covenant, encouraging unity in lifestyle.

Join a church for the sake of weaker Christians.

God is not merely concerned ab

out our own private piety, but also about our care for the other sheep.  This is a whole aspect of godliness that privatized Christians ignore.  If we don’t love God’s people, then John says we have reason to question our love for God Himself (1John 4:8).

God wants us to encourage weaker Christians and run the race with them.  Don’t leave it to other people to care for those outside your circle of friends.  This is your responsibility.

Members should see themselves as providers – coming to serve others, not to be served.

Join a church for the sake of the church leaders.

If regular attenders don’t eventually make themselves known to the pastor as members of the church, then the pastor cannot take responsibility for them as part of his particular flock. Pastors need to know for which sheep God will hold them accountable so that they can tend to them most responsibly and effectively (Heb 13:17).

If regular attenders don’t join churches, then pastors cannot be freed to do what they do.  Pastors can only devote themselves to the ministry because they are set free to do so by members who fund their work.  Regular attenders benefit from the commitment of other people who have become members and who give and serve and pray regularly.

Biblical Basis for Church Membership

  1. Jesus established the church to be a public, earthly institution that would mark out, affirm, and oversee those who profess to believe in him (Matt. 16:18-1918:15-20). Jesus established the church to publicly declare those who belong to him in order to give the world a display of the good news about himself (John 17:2123; see also Eph. 3:10). Jesus wants the world to know who belongs to him and who doesn’t. And how is the world to know who belongs to him and who doesn’t? They are to see which people publicly identify themselves with his people in the visible, public institution he established for this very purpose. They’re to look at the members of his church. And if some people claim to b
    e part of the universal church even though they belong to no local church, they reject Jesus’ plan for them and his church. Jesus intends for his people to be marked out as a visible, public group, which means joining together in local churches.
  2. Scripture repeatedly commands Christians to submit to their leaders (Heb. 13:171 Thess. 5:12-13). The only way to do that is by publicly committing to be members of their flock, and saying in effect, “I commit to listening to your teaching, following your direction, and to submitting to your leadership.” There’s no way to obey the scriptural commands to submit to your leaders if you never actually submitto them by joining a local church.
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