Occasionally, I am asked why a Christian should become a member of a local church. Some insist that membership is merely a technicality, not seeing much difference between attendance and membership. Some argue they can worship God on their own disconnected from a church family. Others feel qualified to invent their own definition of the word church in an attempt to release themselves of responsibility.
Simply put, membership is about making a commitment. It’s a commitment to a body of doctrine, to a body of people, to the body of Christ. To become a member is to join arms with others of like faith and to join God in His redemptive work in this world. Being a member of a local church…
Gives me an environment in which to grow spiritually. Hebrews 10:24–25 explains this fundamental need of every Christian: “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
Identifies me with fellow believers. Ephesians 2:19 and 1 Peter 2:9–10 remind us what a great privilege it is to partner with the family of God.
Allows for genuine friendships, healthy relationships, and voluntary accountability. The importance of godly friendships and the difference that right influences can make in our lives must be understood by believers (James 5:16; Proverbs 27:17).
Enables burdens to be shared and loads to be lightened.
“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
Builds a prayer network for mutual intercession. The story of Peter’s miraculous deliverance from prison, while other Christians prayed for him is a powerful testimony to the value of intercessory prayer. The Bible contains many requests from Christians to other believers for prayer (see Romans 15:30; 1 Timothy 2:1; 5:5).
Places me under the spiritual protection of godly leaders.
Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.—Hebrews 13:17
Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.—Acts 20:28
Provides a means to honor God financially by supporting local and world evangelism. Paul, speaking to the Philippian church, commended them for their generous giving (Philippians 4:14–18).
Serves as a place for me to bring others, so they may hear the gospel. The Great Commission gives a command, and the church gives us the ability to carry out this command.
Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.—Acts 17:1–4
Creates an opportunity to discover and exercise my spiritual gifts. The church is composed of many different types of people who, with the Lord’s help, are united to create a uniquely gifted body of Christ.
Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.—Romans 12:6–8
Connects me to something eternal and more significant than myself. The local church serves as a powerful reminder that we are not created just for this temporary life on Earth (Romans 12:4–5).
The one institution Jesus set out to build was the church (Matthew 16:18). Jesus loves the church (Ephesians 5:25). The church belongs to Him, and our existence was made possible through His sacrifice (Acts 20:28). May we avoid the gravitational tendency to lower our esteem for God’s choice organization. May we recommit ourselves and redouble our efforts of worshiping, growing, and serving together as a local church, so much the more, as we see the day approaching.