Last week I stood in front of the congregation trying to give away a book called Church Membership: How the World Knows Who Represents Jesus. For reasons unfathomable to me, people didn’t jump out of their chairs to snatch the book from my hand! What topic could be more thrilling than church membership?
Of course, I’m being sarcastic-- not everyone gets excited about church membership (although if you are, let me know. I have a book for you). Perhaps you think of church membership as an overly technical arrangement that makes the church less organic, and more institutional; less relational and more contractual. If you have any concerns about church membership, hopefully in the coming weeks you’ll see the beauty and joy of membership. Church membership is a tool that enables us to protect the gospel and care for each other.
You may be wondering, “So, what am I committing to when I commit to membership here?” It’s a great question! Let’s start answering that question.
First of all, when you commit to membership, you are committing to follow Jesus Christ publicly. You’re saying, “I want to follow Jesus-- help me do that!” And in response, the church says, “Yes, you are our family! We are with you in this!”
Second, commiting to membership also means committing to the other members. When you become a member, you’re saying, “You’re my family. I will do my best to love and care for you as we walk with Jesus together.”
Third, it means submitting to leaders. You are saying, “I gladly submit to the leadership and oversight of my elders” (Hebrews 13:17).
Fourth, you’re committing to regularly gather for corporate worship, out of obedience to Hebrews 10:24, which says “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
To continue with the family analogy, the corporate gathering is like a family meal where everyone returns to feast on God’s Word, to share stories of God’s grace, to bear the burdens of the hurting, looking to God for comfort and hope. The New Testament is clear: Christians gather. It’s part of their spiritual DNA.
To sum up: the commitment to membership is the commitment to consider the church your family, to enjoy family-like commitments with one another, and to live life together for the glory of God.