Why join a church? Can’t we just attend regularly? Is church membership even biblical? Does membership really even matter? As a pastor, I’ve been asked this questions many times. Frankly, they’re great questions that I want to address here!
Not a Club!
When thinking about how people think about the church, one thing is clear: people are confused about what it means to be a part of a church.
Whatever the reason, we often think of the church as a club to join, pay your dues, and receive some sort of benefit for belonging. Even as pastors, we often find ourselves falling into this kind of thinking. But the more we look at the Scriptures, the more we see high expectations for those who claimed to be a part of a church fellowship. The church definitely isn’t a club you join and are involved when you want to be. In fact, you are the church.
“Membership” in the Bible
What is clear from Acts, and really the whole New Testament, is that people in a local church were committed to God’s Word, prayer, and the breaking of bread. They even shared their possessions when someone was in need and were known, by name, as being part of the local body (Acts 2:44-47). Only people who had certain commitments, including to the church itself, were part of the church. People who were not committed to these things weren’t a part of the fellowship.
In other words, there was a clear way of identifying who was truly part of the church (a member) and who wasn’t. And even when those inside the church showed themselves to be uncommitted to following Christ, they were lovingly confronted, and ultimately told to leave if they did not repent (1 Cor. 5:13). Why so harsh? Because the reality was that, no matter how much they wanted to be a part of the church, unless they were willing to make certain commitments in the midst of the body, they couldn’t be.
Membership at Raintree
One of my favorite things about the church I am at is the membership process. There are expectations for anyone wanting to be a part of the church, including staff! Suffice it to say, members of a church in the New Testament were expected to have certain commitments. Even though we don’t see them signing a covenant, or going to an “membership” class, we can know that being part of a fellowship meant way more than just attending a corporate worship service on Sundays, or even volunteering in a particular ministry.
This is why we have a membership class. We want to be as clear as possible as to what it means to be a part of the church, and what it truly means to follow Christ. We also want to get to know you at least a little and know that we are all on the same page as to what Raintree is all about.
The Church isn’t a club; it’s the body of Christ. It isn’t some optional social gathering once a week– it’s a community of people united by the blood of Christ, and that have certain commitments to holiness and the Great Commission, among other things. These commitments, which make up our “covenant”, is what makes you a member!