“Why should I join the church?” It’s a valid question. Sometimes it’s said with genuine curiosity–“So explain to me what membership is all about.” Other times it’s said with a tinge of suspicion–“So tell me again, why do you think I should become a member?”–as if joining the church automatically signed you up to tithe by direct deposit.
I think for many people membership sounds stiff, something you have at your bank or the country club, but too formal for the church. Even if it’s agreed that Christianity is not a lone ranger religion, that we need community and fellowship with other Christians, we still bristle at the thought of officially joining a church. Well, believe it or not, membership matters. Here’s five good reasons why Christians should join a church.
1. In joining a church you make your commitment to Christ and His people public.
Membership is one way to raise the flag of faith. You state before God and others that you are part of this local body of believers.
How many of Paul’s letters were written to individuals? Only a handful, and these were mostly to pastors. The majority of his letters were written to a local body of believers. We see the same thing in Revelation. Jesus spoke to individual congregations in places like Smyrna, Sardis, and Laodicea. The New Testament knows no Christians floating around in “just me and Jesus” land. Believers belong to churches.
2. Making a Church commitment makes a powerful statement in a low-commitment culture.
Most bowling leagues require more of their members than most churches. The church is often a sad reflection of its culture. Ours is a consumer culture where everything is tailored to meet our needs and satisfy our preferences. When those needs aren’t met, we can always move on to the next product, or job, or spouse.
Joining a church in such an environment makes a counter-cultural statement. It says “I am committed to this group of people and they are committed to me. I am here to give, more than get.”
3. Church membership keeps us accountable to each other.
When we join a church we are offering ourselves to one another to be encouraged, rebuked, corrected, and served. We are placing ourselves under leaders and submitting to their authority (Heb. 13:7). We are saying, “I am here to stay. I want to help you grow in godliness. Will you help me to do the same?”
Church membership is an opportunity to grasp hold of each other in responsibility and love. By identifying ourselves with a particular church, we let the pastors and other members of that church know that we intend to be committed in attendance, giving, prayer, and service. We assure the church of our commitment to Christ in serving with them, and we call for their commitment to serve and encourage as well.
4. Joining the church will help your pastor be a more faithful shepherd.
Hebrews 13:17 says “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves.” That’s your part. Here’s the pastor’s: “for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account.” Pastor takes seriously his responsibility before God to watch over your souls.
5. Joining the church gives you an opportunity to make promises.
When you become a member here, you make promises to pray, give, serve, attend worship, accept the spiritual guidance of the church, obey its teachings, and seek the things that make for unity, purity, and peace. We ought not to make these promises lightly. We must hold each other to them. If you don’t join the church, you may miss an opportunity to publicly make these promises, and in so doing, invite the pastor and the rest of the body to hold you to these promises–which would be missing out on great spiritual benefit, for you and for us.
Think about why membership might matter more than you thought. And if you are looking to make a counter-cultural commitment and invite more accountability and responsibility into your life, why not join a church?
Find out more about becoming a member of Anchor.