Recently I had a friend involved in ministry email me to ask me about my opinion on the importance of Church Membership. This was my response:
The question of church membership has a couple of different components. This will just be a quick overview and will hopefully give you some food for thought on the issue.
The first component is membership into the universal Church. We recognize that God’s ordained way for this to happen is through at faith at baptism. It is declaring that you are done with sin, rebellion, and the way of the world and that you are now going the way of Jesus in holiness and righteousness. The importance of this is that you are rescued from Satan, sin, and death. You are also given a purpose for life, which generally speaking is to make disciples and to be ambassadors for God’s kingdom. What this looks like will be different for every person as they seek to harness their unique talents, passions, relationships, and skills for the kingdom.
The second component is that of membership in the local church. The criteria for this comes out of the first component. A person cannot be a member of a local church family if they haven’t first made the commitment to be part of God’s Kingdom through confession, faith, and baptism. I would aslo add that there needs to be a desire and a willingness to be part of the local church’s vision and mission. Part of what the local church is a group of Christians who have come together, not only from mutual support and growth, but also to combine their resources: (money, talents, and time) for God’s Kingdom. The importance of being a member in a local church is that you become part of a group of people who love, support, and encourage you. It also brings into your life people who are dedicated to the same goal you have. It gives you a place to belong, to be loved, and to live out your purpose.
Of course that is the ideal and we know that is not what the church really looks like. I think it is worth reminding people what God intended when He created the Church.