- Because the Bible speaks of being a member of the body [Romans 12:4 and 5, 1 Cor. 12:12-27, Eph. 5:25 and 30].
Are these verses talking about being a member of the universal church, or the local church? The answer is both, 1 Cor. 12:14 is talking about the universal church. But what about 1 Cor. 12:23-26? These verses are talking about caring for each member, in the local church. The principles that apply to the universal church are fleshed out in the local church context. Theoretically we should care for every believer in the whole world, but practically that actually works itself out in the local church setting. Are we meant to submit to the elders of the church in Budapest? Practically the principle of submission to leadership fleshes itself out in the local church setting where the universal membership principles are meant to be put into daily practice.
- Because the example of the early church implies recognizable church membership:
- Those who came to faith and were baptized were added to the church [Acts 2:41; 47, 5:14, 16:5]
- They then devoted themselves to formal corporate activities [2:42]
- The early church seemed to keep lists of their members [Acts 2:41, how did they know there was 3,000 saved? 2 Cor. 2:6, by the majority, did they vote? 1 Tim. 5:9, a list of widows with specific qualifications to get on the list
- NT books show that God expected people to be gathered together in each city, Corinth, Ephesus etc. Who were to gather? The members of the body
- The language of the NT suggests church membership [Acts 6:2-5, 8:1, 9;26, 14:23, 1 Cor. 5:4, 14:23, Heb. 10:25]. These last three verses talk about being assembled together, who assembles? The members of the church.
- Membership is often rubbished because it makes a distinction between the “members” and the “non-members.” But the Bible makes that distinction. Look also at Galatians 6:10, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
- Helps the elders/leaders to know their congregation [Acts 20:28, Hebrews 13:17, and 1 Peter 5:1-3].
The consistent pattern throughout the NT is that each local body of believers is to be overseen by a plurality of elders. Look at some of the above verses, Heb.13:7 says of the leader; “who will give an account.” Who will the leader give an account for? The members. 1 Peter 5:3 says to the elder not to lord it over those “allotted to your charge.” Who is allotted to their charge? Is it everyone who walks in the door or who visits? No it is the members. Membership helps the leaders to know who the congregation allotted to their charge really is.
- Church discipline requires it [Matthew 18:15-17].
If we notice all the steps involved in the process of discipline in the above passage, we notice that the last step involves telling the situation to the church. Who is the church? Is it right to tell everyone sitting in the pews that morning about a brother or sisters sin? Or is it right to gather the members of the church, who have committed to each other?
- It is being faithful to regenerate church membership [Acts 2:37-47].
Regenerate means to be born again, a real Christian. Having church membership creates a process by which those joining the church are spoken to about their faith. Joining a local church is not like joining the local cricket club. The church is joined by those who have put their faith exclusively in Jesus Christ to save them. Membership asks if this has indeed happened thereby being faithful to regenerate church membership and not just interested in large numbers coming.
- It is being faithful to our corporate responsibilities [Romans 12:10, and Hebrews 3:12-13].
Church has become very much about our individual freedoms yet church has almost nothing to do with individual freedoms but everything to do with how we commune and relate with others. At our salvation we become a part of a family, we are commanded to look out for one another, we are asked to encourage one another so that we don’t fall away, and we are gifted by God, not for our own edification, but for others edification. Membership is an attempt to reflect this vital reality.
What membership is not
- Membership has nothing to do with money. You will never be asked to give a certain amount.
- Membership has nothing to do with hiding sin. It is not a secret society that protects its members at all costs. If you break the law, the church will hand you over to the law courts to deal with you.
- Membership has nothing to do with how many services you have to attend.
- Membership does not mean you can never leave. Both the front door to the church and the back door are open.
- Membership does not mean you have to obey the leadership without question. Leadership have a responsibility to guide you in the Scriptures, motivated by a love for Christ and one another. Anything beyond this is not within their role as a church leader.
What membership is
To become a member of Naenae for Christ Community Church means that together we are making a commitment to each other:
- Our Commitment to You
Naenae for Christ Community Church promise to give oversight to you and to teach you the Scriptures [Matthew 28:20, Acts 20:28, 2 Timothy 4:2]. To exercise a Christ-like care and watchfulness over you. That together we might faithfully encourage, equip, warn, rebuke and admonish each other [Matthew 18:15-20, Ephesians 4:12, 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15]. And in all things, we will seek and guard the honour and true function of the church that Christ purchased with His own blood [Acts 20: 28, 1 Timothy 3:15].
- Your Commitment to Us:
- Have you confessed with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believed in your heart that God raised Him from the dead? [Romans 10:9].
- Will you promise to gather with the church and to submit to its oversight? [Hebrews 10:25, 13:17, 1 Peter 5:5].
- Will you commit yourself to seeking greater understanding and unity in the beliefs of Naenae for Christ Community Church?
- Will you walk with the church in love, seeking her good as she seeks yours? [Romans 12:9-21, Ephesians 4:1-6].
- Will you accept encouragement, equipping and loving discipline where necessary? [Matthew 18:15-20, Ephesians 4:12, Hebrews 3:13].
- And will you work with the church as she seeks to fulfil the great commission, living out and proclaiming salvation in Jesus Christ alone? [Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 4:12].