Why should I "join" a church? What's wrong with just attending?
If you are asking yourself any of the above questions, you are not alone. Several years ago I (Pastor Mike) was asking myself the same questions. "If church membership is just having my name on a registry somewhere in the church office, what's the point? God knows my heart."
If this sounds like you, then I just want to begin by saying, "I totally get it!" I'm part of the generation that has a healthy ambivalence towards institutions and an unhealthy fear of "committing" to anything. Combine that with the way most churches handle membership - what I like to call the "easy come, easy go" mentality - and you've got ample cause to be suspicious of anyone asking you to "join" anything. But, as Augustine once quipped, "Never judge a philosophy by its abuse." We, likewise, shouldn't reject a practice we've never seen function well. Because, as it turns out, there is actually a VERY strong case for joining yourself or your family to a local church family. I would lay out the full case here, but it's too long (and you probably wouldn't read it all anyway). So, here's a quick summary as well as some additional resources for you to check out.
While the term "membership" may be absent in the pages of scripture, the Bible has much to say about the way Christians are to live together in community - including how they are to interact with each other, organize themselves, and what they should be working toward. For starters, the pages of the NT are full of commands to "love one another", "bear one another's burdens", "encourage one another", "be patient with one another", "confess your sins to one another and pray for one another", "admonish one another", and on and on and on we could go. Additionally, the NT commands Christians to submit to "your leaders" (Heb. 13:17), which implies that you both know who they are, and that they know who you are. This, taken together with the fact that the primary image used for the local church is a "body" made up of inter-dependent "members" (1 Cor. 12:12-31, Eph. 4:1-16, Rom. 12:3-8). And that these members are to use their particular "gifts" for the growth and health of the body as a whole – seems, at the very least, to imply that the NT envisions a community of Christians who have committed to serve, love, pray, and submit to one another. In other words – they have decided to be a MEMBER of a local church.
Not convinced? Well, I understand. That's a short answer to a complicated question. If I've at least piqued your interest, take a few minutes to watch the video below or click HERE to set up a time to talk.