SESSION 24: CHURCH MEMBERSHIP

Ask:

Why is (or isn't) church membership important?


Teaching Time:

Church membership is not a modern concept, but a biblical concept. It points to the spiritual union between Christ and his church. The heart of church membership isn’t necessarily signing something, or having your name on a list. The point is a mutually recognized, formal relationship between a Christian and the Church in which both say, “I am committed to you. I will share your joy and your pain. I will take responsibility for you. I will love and care for you.” That’s the meaning of membership. Each local church is the body of Christ, and we as individual Christians are members of it to carry out the plans and purposes of our Lord Jesus. The most important thing to see is that the Bible consistently talks about the church having a boundary. There are people who are in and people who are out. It’s very definitive. Just because a person attends a church, their presence alone does not make that person a “member” of the Church. You can see in other places in scripture that Disciples are meant to use their gifts to build up and serve the Church in a number of ways.


There are other evidences to support local church membership in the Scriptures: 


We see in Acts 2:37-47 that there is a numerical record of those who had professed Christ and been filled with the Holy Spirit (v. 41) and an acknowledgement that the church was tracking the growth (v. 47). 


In Acts 6:1-6; we see elections take place in order to address a specific problem and accusation. In Romans 16:1-16, we see what appears to be an awareness of who is a church member. 


In 1 Timothy 5:3-16, we see a clear teaching on how to handle widows in the church and in this text we see a criteria for who would or would not qualify for the Church’s widow care program. The local church in Ephesus is organized, and they were working out a ministry plan.


When you begin to look at these texts it becomes clear that God’s plan for his church is that we would belong to a local community of faith.

The bottom line is that local church membership is a question of biblical obedience, not personal preference!


Application:

Read Romans 12:3-8

  • What do you notice about Paul’s instructions to the Church in Rome?
  • What does this reveal about how God has set up the Church?
  • What do you think he means by “don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought? What does this reveal about the heart of the church members?

  • What giftings do you think you have and how can they be used to build up and encourage the Church?

Read Acts 2:37-47

  • What is required to be a member of the Church?
  • What do you notice most about this passage?

  • Pay attention to the organization and the unity found within the early church.

Read Matthew 18:15-17

  • What is church discipline and how does today’s church differ from the early church in this regard?
  • Why is church discipline necessary and why does it rarely carried out in today’s churches?

  • Too many churches are more concerned with filling seats and collecting a tithe than they are ensuring their people are following Jesus and living in victory over sin.

  • What happens when church discipline is done incorrectly or not at all?

  • Why is Church Membership crucial to the growth and maturity of every Disciple?

  • What keeps people away from investing in their local church through membership?


Where do we get it wrong?

  • God doesn't care if I go to church as long as I have fellowship with Him.
  • Belonging to a church is just so the church can look better and pad their numbers. 
  • Becoming a church member doesn't require any sacrifice on my part.


BACK TO SESSION 23: DEFENDING THE FAITH (APOLOGETICS)


GO TO PART 5: LIVING SENT


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