Meaningful Membership WATC

The first part of the Meaningful Membership and Intentional Relationship class reviews the two weeks of membership class.

One of the first questions in the membership class is, “Why should one join a church?”

While there are multiple answers, here are two answers Pastor Brett shares with potential members. 

Membership means something.

True believers have been brought into the family of God.

The Bible does not talk about church membership.  However, it does talk about submission.  Submission to God and to one another.

In Philippians 2:1-4, Paul writes to the church, not the individual.  He tells “all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons” (1:1) how to live. 
Be of the same mind, united in spirit, intent on one purpose, do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, humbly consider another as more important than themselves, and don’t look out for your own interests but also for the interests of others. 
What a submission list.

We live this way because of who Jesus is and what He has done

In the church, this submission is made...
physically (gathering with church family on Sunday and throughout the week),
geographically (giving members access to me for discipleship and hospitality),
socially (Our most robust relationships should encourage us to grow in Christlikeness.  We should have friends outside of our comfort zone.),
financially (voluntary, sacrificially, for God’s glory),
ugliness (We tend only to want to submit to people or organizations if they are perfect or support our desires.)

Most of the N.T. was given to the church to be applied in the community, not individually.  Even Paul's letter to Timothy is written "so that you may know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God.”  (1 Tim. 3:15) 

We have brochures on various aspects of life at Trinity Baptist Church.  One is the “What does it mean to be a church member?” brochure.  It states that the church is a community of believers committed to growing together in godliness and testifying corporately about Jesus Christ to a fallen world.

This is done by...
- Protecting sound doctrine
- Pursuing unity in the church
- Promoting church purity
- Participating in the church
- Providing for the church 

During class time and, hopefully, outside of class time, talk to others about how God has used the church and saved people to help you grow in godliness.  Remember, God can and does use specific ministries at specific times in the life of a church.  Ultimately, membership is about a commitment to be used by God in the lives of others and to allow others to be used by God in your life.

To read more about meaningful membership, check out https://www.9marks.org/answer/what-meaningful-membership/


One key aspect of Meaningful Membership is that members are saved; they understand the importance of salvation and desire to see others saved.

9/24        Intentional Relationships
10/1        Ministries of the Church
10/08      75th Celebration
10/15      Prayer & the Church
10/22      The Bible & the Church
10/29      Preaching & the Church
11/05      Leadership & the Church
11/12      Discipline & the Church
11/19      The Gathering of the Church 

Urban Legends of Theology by Michael Wittmer has a section (216-217) very much connected with this week's lesson - "The Bible doesn't teach church membership."

The New Testament does not command Christians to join a local church, probably because it did not need to. What New Testament follower of Jesus would refuse to join his body?  On the day the church began, 3,00 people believed, were baptized and added to the church. In the ensuing days, "all the believers were together," and "every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved" (Acts 2:41-47). This pattern of believing and joining the church continued throughout the book of Acts. Is it possible to believe in Jesus and not belong to his local assembly? Maybe, but it never occurred to an apostle that anyone would; if someone refused baptism and membership in a local assembly, they would be counted as a genuine believer. The church assumed everyone baptized by the Spirit had become a member of the body of Christ by that baptism.  They belonged (1 Cor 12:12-13).° 

We do not know how the New Testament church kept track of its members (did they keep membership rolls?), but several Scriptures assume they had them. Paul tells Christians directly, "Now you are the body of Christ, and individual members of it" (v. 27). The New Testament church held elections for deacons and sent men to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas (Acts 6:1-4; 15:22). Surely, they knew who had a vote and who did not. Membership is also required for church discipline. Jesus said if our offending brother will not listen to our rebuke, we should "tell the church" (Matt 18:15-17). How do we tell the church if we do not know who belongs to the church? If our erring brother does not repent, Paul said we must "remove the evil person from among [us]" (1 Cor 5:13). How do we remove a person from among us if we do not know who counts as us? Paul said God judges those outside the church, and we judge those inside, so when we evict people from membership, we leave them to God's judgment (vv. 12-13). How do we do this without a clear boundary between those inside and outside the church?

 Finally, God says the church elders are responsible for the people under their care. They must "be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as overseers, to shepherd the church of God" (Acts 20:28). They "will give an account" to God for how well they kept "watch over your souls" (Heb 13:17). If they "shepherd God's flock among you, not overseeing out of compulsion but willingly," they "will receive the unfading crown of glory" when Jesus returns (1 Pet 5:1-4). The elders are not responsible for everyone or even every Christian. They are responsible for the people in their flock, which assumes they know who is a member of their church and who is not. 

New Testament Christians could not imagine uniting with Jesus but not his church. Neither should we.

For every We Are the Church post, click HERE.