What about Church Membership?
Strong and Courageous
May 4, 2018
What about Church membership?
We have recently had a sermon series in our church about the church. Its purpose and how we are to be in relationship together as members of the body of Christ. This is a bigger deal than most of us realize. The local church was never meant to be just a country club where people hang out in a social gathering. The purpose of the church is to be more like an embassy that provides shelter and safety in a potentially hostile foreign country.
The local church, mission and church planting are God’s plan for extending His kingdom. There is no other plan B. The New Testament records the birth of the church age and brings definition as to how it is to be structured and how it is to function.
We see in the book of Acts the establishment of elders and deacons. We also see the actions of caring for orphans and widows. We also see that there are issues of necessary correction for improper behavior. All of these are developed within the structure of church membership. Jonathan Leeman in the book titled Church Membership, how the world knows who represents Jesus states “you cannot fulfill your obligations to other Christians and to church leaders without the local church, at least not in the way Scripture calls you to fulfill them. In addition, other Christians and church leaders cannot fulfill their obligations to you without the local church. You need a body of Christ to be the body of Christ. You need a family of God to be the family of God.” There are aspects of service, giving, gifting, caring for others burdens, and brotherly love that require the need for the local church to complete.
I get nervous around those who would say that I believe in God, but have no need for the church. Leeman goes on to address this issue, “Here is another way to think about what’s at stake: How should we respond to the person who claims to be righteous in Christ but never pursues righteousness? We would say that he was self-deceived and we would urge him to repent. For the same reason, how should we respond to the person who claims to belong to the body of Christ universally but never actually joins a body of Christ on earth? We would say the person is self-deceived and should repent.”
Jesus is the shepherd of the local church and its ultimate authority. The people of the body of Christ are meant to be the sheep of his pasture. Church leaders are meant to be both under-shepherds and also to be sheep. This is the proper structure for church life. We are to be the bride of Christ representing His kingdom here on earth. Is the church perfect? No absolutely not, we all make mistakes, however even in our flawed condition, we are to function in unity.
The imperfection of the local church does not invalidate its existence , purpose and membership aspects.
Warren Stroup in a recent message states, “Concerning church membership, we should be all in.” Being all in means being committed to not just one thing, but rather all of aspects of what we see the church should be. Membership plays a very important role in this.