The Importance of Local Church Membership Part 2
Last week we considered the question, “What is the importance of church membership and why do I have to become a member of the local church?” First, what is the local church? It is a group of believers that regularly gather together for the purpose of accomplishing specific, divinely ordained tasks as laid out in Scripture (1 Tim 4:13; 2 Tim 4:2; Eph 4:7-12; Rom 12:3-8; 1 Cor 12:4-31; Luke 22:19; Acts 2:38-42; Matt 28:18-20). Understanding what the local church is, begins to help us see the importance of why we should join a local church. Yet, we could understand that God intended for us to express our faith in local churches and still not belong to one particular local church. Therefore, we must ask, “Is it really necessary to “join” a church or to “become a member?” Why can’t I just hop around to different churches or come without committing?”
In the previous article, the first biblical reason to join or become a member of a local church was presented, which was that the existence of church government demands formal membership. Please go back to that article for a fuller explanation. The second biblical reason is:
2) The Exercise of Church Discipline Demands Formal Membership
In Matthew 18:15-17, Jesus outlines the way in which the church is to seek the restoration of a believer who has fallen into sin – a four-step process commonly known as church discipline. First, when a brother sins, he is to be confronted privately by a single individual (v.15). If he refuses to repent, that individual is to take one or two other believers along to confront him again (v.16). If the sinning brother refuses to listen to the two or three, they are then to tell it to the church (v.17a). If there is still no repentance, the final step is to put the person out of the assembly (v.17b; cf. 1 Cor 5:1-13). The question raised is, “How can you be “put out” of an assembly you don’t belong to?”
In Acts 5:1-14, after the disobedience and subsequent death of Ananias and Sapphira, indeed a case of divine church discipline, Luke records, “And great fear came over the whole church, and over all who heard of these things. At the hands of the apostles, many signs and wonders were taking place among the people; and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s portico. But none of the rest dared to associate with them; however, the people held them in high esteem. And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number” (Acts 5:11-14). This text demonstrates that people can’t be afraid to join nor can believers be added to the church at Jerusalem without formal membership.
In 1 Corinthians 5:1-13, Paul admonishes the Corinthians for not removing a fornicator from their midst. The problem was that he was a part of the church, and Paul said he needed to be removed from the church so much so that they weren’t even supposed to share meals. Paul summarizes, “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves” (1 Cor 5:12-13). If Paul didn’t intend formal membership, how could he consider some to be “within the church” and others “outside”? How do you “remove” someone from among yourselves if they aren’t formally a part of you?
To be removed from the church you must first be a part of the church. The exercise of church discipline, according to Matthew 18 and other passages (1 Cor 5:1-13; 1 Tim 5:20; Tit 3:10-11), presupposes that the elders know who their members are. For example, the elders of Immanuel Baptist Church have neither the responsibility nor the authority to discipline a member of a church down the street. The Bible’s teaching on church discipline assumes church membership. The third biblical reason is:
3) The Exhortation to Mutual Edification Affirms Formal Membership
The New Testament teaches that the church is the body of Christ and that God has called every member to a life devoted to the growth of the body. In other words, Scripture exhorts all believers to edify the other members by exercising their spiritual gifts (Rom 12:3-8; 1 Cor 12:4-31; Eph 4:7-12) and practicing the “one-anothers” (Heb 10:24-25).
Spiritual gifts were given to the committed members of local churches. In Romans 12:3-8, Paul reminds the believers at the church at Rome that they are “members one of another” and as such, they were to be contributing to one another spiritually. In 1 Corinthians 12:12-21, Paul reminds the believers at the church at Corinth that they were each a part/member of that local expression of the body of Christ (vv. 12-14), and as such, they all had different roles and gifts (vv. 15-19) and they all needed one another. In Ephesians 4:11-12, Paul tells the local church members in Ephesus that God gave them pastors/teachers to equip them for the work of the ministry. The original context demands that access to such equipping from these pastors would happen when they were assembled as a church. It is significant that each of these passages was addressed to local congregations, thereby conveying the original context in which the inspired writer intended for these gifts to be exercised.
Similarly, the “one-anothers” were given to committed members within local church contexts in the NT. This signifies that mutual edification and the mutual obligation between fellow Christians can only take place in the context of the corporate body of Christ. Exhortations to this kind of ministry presuppose that believers have committed themselves to other believers in a specific local assembly. Church membership is simply the formal way to make that commitment.
Many Christians seem to think that because they are saved without church membership, and church membership will not make them any more sure of salvation, they need not concern themselves with it. This is a purely selfish point of view. What difference will church membership make to me is the question often in mind. But it is the wrong question. The purpose of church membership is in relation to the local church, not the individual.
Do you see the importance of local church membership? The existence of church government, the exercise of church discipline, and the exhortation to mutual edification all demand formal commitment to a local church body. Therefore, I would encourage you to consider the teaching of Scripture and to become a member of a local church granted that you are a born-again believer. Membership matters!
Pastor Mike Srisam-ang
PREPARING FOR SUNDAY
God’s Patience & Jonah’s Message
Dr. Daniel Davey
Walking in the Truth
3 John 1:1-14
Rev. John Corcoran
The Security Committee has been working on measures to make our church safer during our meetings, particularly on Wednesday and Sunday evenings. Starting on Wednesday, March 14th the following will be in effect:
Wednesday nights – All doors on the south end of the church (parking lot glass doors, library door, Mizpah Room door and courtyard glass doors) will be locked at 7:15 PM and reopened at 8:15 PM. All these doors have push bars for exiting. If you would like to enter the church after 7:15 PM, please come around to the north glass doors near the office.
Sunday nights – The north and south glass doors and the north transept door will be locked at 6:45 PM. If you would like to enter the sanctuary after 6:45 PM please enter through the Thompson Street doors.
If you have any questions, please contact Bob Andrews or Paul Dreiling
Easter Flowers: We will have mums and hydrangeas available if you would like to order one in memory or honor of someone for Easter Sunday. Cost is $12 for mums and $18 for hydrangeas. Make checks out to IBC and drop them by the office or mail to the church. Deadline is March 5th. Click here to order.
If you have been worshipping with us and would like to learn more about our church, or think you might be interested in becoming a member, we invite you to attend our upcoming new members class Sunday, March 18, after the morning worship service. Lunch is provided so please reserve your spot today.
Click here to Register!
Wednesday, March 7th, 6:45 – 8:15 PM / Annex
The purpose of the meeting is to get more face time with parents as well as go over what we have been doing and what to look forward to. There will also be a time to ask any questions that you might have. No need to RSVP, just show up!
Save the Date for VBS:
July 30 – August 3, 9 AM to 12 PM
Word of Life Kids Clubs have the following openings for March-May on Wednesday nights:
– Men: Small group leader for elementary Olympians
– Teacher’s Helper: Gopher Buddies class (4 yr. olds)
– Game Coach: to lead game time with 3 different groups, game ideas provided. Contact Peter or Sara Bunn: firstname.lastname@example.org
Feb. 25 – Business Meeting
March 11 – Daylight Savings Time
March 16-17 – Church Wide Cleaning Day
March 18 – Membership Class
– Gilliam Report, Reception & Offering, PM
April 1 – Deluxe Easter Breakfast
April 7-8 – Spring Missions Conference