Why Do We Do That? Church Membership
Question: Where do you find church membership in the Bible?
Answer: While the words “church membership” is not in the Bible, the practice of “church membership” is blatantly clear.
Hebrews 13:17 - 17Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
Two Questions from Hebrews 13:17. If there is no biblical requirement to belong a local church, then which leaders should an individual Christian obey and submit to? The Scriptures clearly command Christians to submit to and honor an elder body (Heb. 13:17, 1 Tim. 5:17). If there is no understanding of local church membership, then who are we to submit to and obey? Is it anyone with the title “elder” from any church? Of course not! There must be a clearly DEFINED leadership to whom we are accountable!
The second question is this: Who are the leaders of the church (i.e. Elders) responsible to give an account for? The Scriptures clearly command an elder body to care for specific people (See 1 Pet. 5:1-5; also, Acts 20:29-30). Are the Elders at CCC to be held accountable for all the Christians in Simpsonville, SC? Of course not! There must be a clearly DEFINED membership to whom we are responsible to shepherd and lead. Church shepherding and discipline will not work if local church membership doesn’t exist.
Other evidences for membership include the following:
• Acts 2:37-47 - numerical record of those who have professed Christ and been filled with the Holy Spirit (v. 41) and an acknowledgement that the church was tracking the growth (v. 47)
• Acts 6:1-6 - we see elections take place in order to address a specific problem and accusation.
• Romans 16:1-16 – Example of an awareness of who is a church member.
• 1 Timothy 5:3-16 - In this text we see criteria for who would or would not qualify for Ephesus’s widow care program. The local church in Ephesus is organized, and they are working out a plan. There is a clear distinction of what widows belong to the church.
• Obedience to commands in 1 Cor. 12 and Romans 12 imply membership being necessary!
“When church is just a place you attend without ever joining, like an ecclesiological buffet, you just might consider whether you’re always leaving whenever your heart begins to be exposed by the Spirit, and the real work is beginning to happen. When you begin to look at these texts it becomes clear that God’s plan for his church is that we would belong to a local covenant community of faith. This is for our own protection and maturation, and for the good of others.” Matt Chandler
Local church membership is a question of Biblical obedience, not personal preference.
Is it time you subjected yourself to church membership?
If you have interest in pursuing membership at CCC, please see one of our elders to discuss this further.