Friday, February 1, 2008

Is church membership necessary?

Have you ever wondered why some churches emphasize membership? Here are nine reasons I believe church membership is important:

  • The early church kept track of its members (Ac. 2:41; 5:14)
  • Church leaders need to know who the members are (Acts 20:28, 31; John 10:14)
  • Members need to know who their fellow members are (Rom. 12:4-8; Heb. 10:24-25)
  • The community needs to know who the members are (Ac. 5:13)
  • It protects the concept of a regenerate church membership (2 Cor. 6:14)
  • It provides clear boundaries and consistent requirements for all members
  • It makes church discipline possible (Mt. 18:15-17; 1 Cor. 5:12-13)
  • It has historical precedent. By the beginning of the second century, churches required new believers to become “catechumens” before they could be baptized and become full members. During this time, they were taught doctrine and Christian living. This period lasted up to three years!
  • It just makes good sense (compare any business, hobby club, or any other organization which keeps track of its members).
As Mark Dever explains, “A recovered practice of careful church membership will have many benefits. It will make our witness to non-Christians more clear. It will make it more difficult for weaker sheep to go straying from the fold, while still considering themselves sheep. It will help to give shape and focus to the discipleship of more mature Christians. It will aid our church leaders in knowing exactly who they are responsible for. In all of this, God will be glorified” (Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, 38)

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