It pays to belong to a group. You too may be a member of Sam's Club, Costco or AMWAY. I can buy an automobile without the haggling. I can book a cruise at a discounted rate. I can buy a box of toilet paper that would last a normal family for decades to come. Membership has it's privileges.
What about membership in the local church? Is this still important to today's Christian? Does it have any benefits to the ever increasingly busy and frazzled families of today?
I submit to you a resounding YES!!!
The following is John MacArthur's definition of church membership:
"When an individual is saved, he becomes a member of the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13). Because he is united to Christ and the other members of the body in this way, he is therefore qualified to become member of a local expression of that body.
To become a member of a church is to formally commit oneself to an identifiable, local body of believers who have joined together for specific, divinely ordained purposes. These purposes include receiving instruction from God’s Word (1 Tim. 4:13; 2 Tim. 4:2), serving and edifying one another through the proper use of spiritual gifts (Rom. 12:3-8; 1 Cor. 12:4-31; 1 Pet. 4:10-11), participating in the ordinances (Luke 22:19; Acts 2:38-42), and proclaiming the gospel to those who are lost (Matt. 28:18- 20). In addition, when one becomes a member of a church, he submits himself to the care and the authority of the biblically qualified elders that God has placed in that assembly."
Here are three practical reasons church membership is crucial to today's Christian:
First, it is biblical. The term member is not used in the Bible but the concept of commitment certainly is. The word partnership is used and that is a very good way of understanding membership. In Philippians 1:5 Paul wrote, "I thank my God for your partnership in the Gospel."The bible clearly teaches partnership and commitment.
Second, church membership fosters stability. Membership creates an atmosphere of loyalty and togetherness. It is always easier to endure a trial in a group. It is more efficient and the likelyhood of success is greater when we work together. We are more likely to keep our focus if there is a group of us all headed toward the same goal.
Third, it gives us a mechanism for accountability. "Going" to church is not the same as being a church member. Simply attending allows you to blend in and disappear in the crowd. Just attending inhibits you from becoming the part of the body God can most effectively use for His glory. Members make commitments that you are then held accountable for keeping. Accountability is a critical part of the Christian life and membership gives the church that authority to hold you accountable.
If you have not submitted yourself to the authority and benefits of the local church, it is past time for you step up to this level of commitment and participation in the local church. Come forward at this Sunday's worship service and join up. We will all be stronger together.