What is Membership & Why Does It Matter?
The concept of a follower of Jesus who is not actively committed to, and participating in, the life of a local community of believers in Christ—which the Bible calls a “church”—is entirely foreign to the New Testament. Rather, that believers are committed to one another in the context of the local church is assumed, expected, and commanded in the New Testament. This dynamic of commitment is what we call “church membership.”
At Firm Foundation, church membership is a formal covenant between the individual believer (you), the body, and the leadership of this local assembly. It is an formal, official affirmation that we are all accountable to each other and committed to each other:
Our leaders are committed to shepherding, serving, leading, and protecting you.
(Jn. 21:15-17, Ac. 20:28, 1 Pet. 5:2)
You are committed to following, supporting, and submitting to our leaders.
(1 Thess. 5:12, 1 Tim. 5.17-18, Heb. 13:17)
We are all committed to serving one another with our time, talents, and treasures.
(1 Cor. 12:4-25, Eph. 4:11-16, 1 Cor. 16:1-2)
We are all committed to holding one another accountable to walk in obedience to the Lord Jesus.
(Mt. 18:15-20, 1 Cor. 5)
Is Church Membership Biblical?
There are those who reject the idea of church membership as unbiblical. While we certainly grant that the term “church membership” does not appear in the Bible, the concept is no less present than the concept of the Trinity, another term which does not appear in the Bible. For instance, if Christians are not expected to belong to a local church, which leaders are they to obey and sumbit to (Heb. 13:17), and to which assembly of believers are they to commit (Heb. 10:25)? If a Christian is not expected to belong to a local church, church discipline (Matt. 18:15-20, 1 Cor. 5:1-12) is a pretense at best, and meaningless at worst.
These are only a few examples, but suffice it to say that church membership is simply the formal way in which we recognize the relationship of commitment between followers of Jesus in a local church that is incumbent upon believers according to the Bible.
In other words, if you have placed your faith in the Lord Jesus, it is God’s will for you that you be a member of a local church. What membership looks like may vary from congregation to congregation, but the obligation of membership is clearly the scriptural model.