Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Case for Church Membership - Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, Inc

A perpetual issue for churches and pastors is the matter of church membership.  Some downplay it because there isn't an ironclad statement from Jesus or the apostles about it.  Others ignore the issue choosing to attend church the way one chooses a restaurant.  Sadly, some deny any biblical basis for it resulting in all sorts of pastoral issues should scandalous behavior arise in the lives of those who attend. 

Over at The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals comes a helpful article on the matter.  The author, an ordained minister in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARP) provides three reasons why church membership is important.  Here is a snippet of the first two reasons:

Church membership is biblical

The Bible does not explicitly command Christians to join a church - it assumes it. The New Testament presupposes membership, for example, in the command, "obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account" (Hebrews 13:17). If you never join a church it is impossible for you to obey this command. Similarly, I Peter 5:2 directs elders to "shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight." How can elders identify the particular flock that God holds them responsible to shepherd unless Christians formally align themselves with particular congregations?

Church membership is good for you

We all need a group of Christians who will help hold us accountable. Taking vows of church membership invites fellow believers to hold you accountable to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Some may reply, "Well, that's all the more reason not to join a church. I don't want the church breathing down my neck if I fall into some sin." But the mutual accountability and discipline that flow from a covenant of church membership are intended for our ultimate good.

Go to this link The Case for Church Membership - Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, Inc to read the rest of this winsome article. 

If I were to offer any constructive criticism to the author I would have had him include the text of Westminster Larger Catechism #45:

Q) How does Christ execute the office of a king?

A) "Christ executes the office of a king, in calling out of the world a people to himself, and giving them officers, laws, and censures, by which he visibly governs them..."

Put simply, Christ governs his people in this age through the local church.  Unless you are a member of a church you are rebelling (either knowing or unknowingly) against the order Christ has established. 

1 comment:

Wes said...

Outstanding, Dave! Thanks for this great Biblical advice.

Membership in a particular congregation is voluntary, but membership in a church somewhere is not. We don't have the option of attending church the way some choose restaurants -- well said!