IN JOINING A CHURCH YOU MAKE VISIBLE YOUR COMMITMENT TO CHRIST AND HIS PEOPLE.
Membership is one way to raise the flag of faith. You state before God and others that you are a part of this local body of believers. It’s easy to talk in glowing terms about the invisible church-the body of all believers near and far, living and dead—but it’s in the visible church that God expects you to live out your faith.
How many of Paul’s letters were written to individuals? Only a handful, and these were mostly to pastors. The majority of his letters were written to a local body of believers. We see the same thing in Revelation. Jesus spoke to individual congregations in places like Smyrna, Sardis, and Laodicea. The New Testament knows no Christians floating around in “just me and Jesus” land. Believers belong to churches.
JOINING THE CHURCH WILL HELP YOUR PASTORS BE MORE FAITHFUL SHEPHERDS.
Hebrews 13:7 says “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority.” That’s your part as “laypeople”. Here’s the part of your leaders: “They keep watch over you as men who must give an account.” The pastors here at Salem take very seriously my responsibility before God to watch and care for souls.
CHURCH MEMBERSHIP KEEPS US ACCOUNTABLE.
When we join a church we are offering ourselves to one another to be encouraged, rebuked, corrected, and served. We are placing ourselves under leaders and submitting to their authority (Heb. 13:7). We are saying, “I am here to stay. I want to help you grow in godliness. Will you help me to do the same?”
“Church membership is our opportunity to grasp hold of each other in responsibility and love. By identifying ourselves with a particular church, we let the pastors and other members of that local church know that we intend to be committed in attendance, giving, prayer, and service. We allow fellow believers to have great expectations of us in these areas, and we make it known that we are the responsibility of this local church. We assure the church of our commitment to Christ in serving with them, and we call for their commitment to serve and encourage as well.”
Nine Marks of a Healthy Church
WE CAN BE OVERLY INDEPENDENT.
In the West, it’s one of the best and worst thing about us. We are free spirits and critical thinkers. We get an idea and run with it. But whose running with us? And are any of us running in the same direction? Membership states in a formal way, “I am part of something bigger than myself. I am not just one of three hundred individuals. I am part of a body.”
MAKING A COMMITMENT MAKES A POWERFUL STATEMENT IN A LOW-COMMITMENT CULTURE.
Joining a church in such an environment makes a counter-cultural statement. It says “I am committed to this group of people and they are committed to me. I am here to give, more than get.”
Even if you will only be in town for a few years, it’s still not a bad idea to join a church. It lets your church know that you want to be cared for here.
But it’s not just about being cared for, it’s about making a decision and sticking with it-something today’s generation, faced with an oppressive number of choices, finds difficult. We prefer to date the church-have her around for special events, take her out when life feels lonely, and keep her around for a rainy day. Membership is one way to stop dating churches, and marrying one.
JOINING THE CHURCH GIVES YOU AN OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE PROMISES.
When someone becomes a member at Salem Baptist Church, they make a promise to pray, give, serve, attend worship, accept the spiritual guidance of the church, obey its teachings, and seek the things that make for unity, purity, and peace. We ought not to make these promises lightly. They are solemn vows. And we must hold each other to them. If you don’t join the church, you miss an opportunity to publicly make these promises, inviting the elders and the rest of the body to hold you to these promises - which would be missing out on great spiritual benefit, for you, your leaders, and the whole church.
HOW DO YOU TAKE YOUR NEXT STEP?
We want to rejoice in what God has done in your life and help you to grow spiritually. If you want to speak with a pastor about church membership, let us know by completing the form below and clicking "Submit" or sending an email to email@example.com.