Recently we have had the joy of welcoming new members to the church as they take public vows before our Triune God and His people. This brings to mind the question Kevin DeYoung asks: why bother with church membership?
Here is what DeYoung says: “I’ve been asked that question on numerous occasions. Sometimes it’s said with genuine curiosity–“So explain to me what membership is all about.” Other times it’s said with a tinge of suspicion–“So tell me again, why do you think I should become a member?”–as if joining the church automatically signed you up to tithe by direct deposit.
For many Christians membership sounds stiff, something you have at your bank or the country club, but too formal for the church. Even if it’s agreed that Christianity is not a lone ranger religion, that we need community and fellowship with other Christians, we still bristle at the thought of officially joining a church. Why all the hoops? Why box the Holy Spirit into member/non-member categories? Why bother joining a local church when I’m already a member of the universal Church?
I’ve found that some people just won’t be convinced of church membership no matter what you say or how many times “member” actually shows up in the New Testament. But many people have not given serious thought to church membership. They are open to hearing the justification for something they’ve not thought much about.
Here are just a few reasons why church membership matters.
1. 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 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.