Some churches really push membership; some churches call you a member if you have been there a few Sundays in a row; some churches will not allow you to be baptized or take the Lord’s Supper unless you are a member.
The bottom line is that there is no verse in Scripture that says, “Thou shalt join a church.” Nothing is ever said directly that even implies that one of the acts of obedience we have as Christians is joining a local church membership.
However, if the opportunity is available, it is a good thing to join the church for several reasons, and you could probably add more to this list.
- The Christian life is about commitment. Joining a church is a tangible way of showing your commitment to that church, showing your commitment to the church’s doctrine, and shows your commitment to be shepherded by the elders and deacons. Just like marriage is a commitment we make to another person of the opposite sex indicating we intend to remain with them for the duration of life or just like signing up to serve in an area of ministry is a commitment to be faithful in that ministry, so is joining a church. Thus, identifying yourself in membership with a local church is another way of committing yourself to serve in a congregation.
- Joining a church encourages the member to serve and be faithful in the long run. When you join an organization, you are more likely to contribute to it, build it up, and help improve it. That is not to say that non-members are apathetic about serving. But for some, joining the church gives them an extra level of accountability to serve. Joining a church alongside of other believers shows a level of commitment to them as well.
- Joining a church blesses the current membership. When a church formally accepts new members into its congregation, it is not a normal reaction to hear from a current member, “Yuck! I don’t want them here? You mean I have to partner with them for the sake of the Gospel, with them?” The contrary is mostly true – “All right! I am excited to see they are joining us! What a blessing!”
- Joining a church is a “vote of confidence” towards the church leadership. Much like joining a political party and affiliating yourself with that party’s platform and leadership, joining a church shows your confidence in a church’s doctrinal statement and those men called to lead that church. It shows support to those men who are called to give an account for your soul (Heb 13:17).
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