Here at Faith Reformed, we encourage participants to become members of our church. Naturally, some people wonder, “why would I become a member?” Here’s some of our thinking on the subject:
Scriptural Reasons We Get Excited About Membership:
Being part of the body of Jesus Christ
Numerous places in the New Testament refer to God’s people as the body of Christ, most notably 1 Corinthians 12. The notion of a solitary Christian is a contradiction in terms. We are all part of the body with Christ as the head. Each Christian community is a small manifestation of that body and in those communities, we each get to play a role, whether as a proverbial arm, thigh, or foot. It’s one of the significant places where our Spiritual gifts blossom (1 Peter 4:10).
Being part of the spiritual house of which Christ is the cornerstone
1 Peter 2:4ff describes the community of God’s people as living stones being built up as a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, under Jesus Christ Himself, who is the chief cornerstone. Does this not stoke your desire to become a committed member of this living, breathing, community rather than coming and going as an anonymous attendee? Each spiritual house in God’s kingdom needs stones that stay in place or that house will crumble. (see also Eph. 2:19-22 and Rom. 12:1)
Being part of the koinonia—the fellowship
Over and over again, esp. in Acts 2, God’s people are described as experiencing koinonia—the Greek word for partnership or fellowship. This koinonia includes breaking bread together, sharing possessions, studying the apostle’s teaching, and praying with one another. Although we can experience this among any brothers and sisters, the koinonia is deeper in a community of proximity and permanence.
Being part of a community of accountability and growth
The writings of the New Testament are geared toward specific Christian communities and include many points of guidance for those particular communities. For instance, people are encouraged to embrace spiritual leadership for the sake of accountability, growth, and vision. As Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls and will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with sighing—for that would be harmful to you.” Some distrust authority and see it as burdensome, but in the Kingdom of God, we trust people with spiritual wisdom to lead us in ways that are healthy and fruitful. (see also Titus 2:1-15, 1 Peter 5:1-14, Titus 3:1-2, and the like).
Being part of heaven on earth
Jesus says in Matthew 16, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” What an awesome privilege! We get to participate in a little slice of heaven that has the power to prevail against dark forces in this world.
Practical Reasons for Membership in a Specific Congregation:
Members are specifically cared for:
Although there are many Christians in the Grand Traverse region, we don’t feel an obligation to pastoral care and formational tools for all of them. That would be presumptuous and arrogant. Instead, we commit to caring for those that are part of this particular flock. Meanwhile, we let West Side care for West Side members, New Hope cares for New Hope members, etc. (and together, all the area churches care for those in need and those who have yet to come to Christ.)
Members make baptismal promises to each other:
Although we are concerned about the spiritual health of every person and every child in the surrounding area, we cannot promise to care for all of them. Instead, we promise to care for those that are part of this particular flock.
Members can weigh in on important congregational matters:
Again, there are many great Christians in the area, but that doesn’t mean we want their opinion on every matter pertaining to this particular flock. We don’t ask every Christian in town for financial support. We don’t ask every Christian in town to support our vision. We don’t ask every Christian in town to nominate Elders and Deacons. Instead, these privileges are reserved for those who have committed themselves as members of FRC.
Members serve in leadership (as Elders & Deacons):
There are many great Christians out there, but not all are prepared to lead this particular flock. Our leaders need to be committed members who understand the congregational dynamics and who are sacrificially invested in its past, present, and future.
For more biblical reasons for church membership, read this article by Matt Chandler: https://www.9marks.org/article/journalchurch-membership-biblical/