‘Why bother joining a church, when it’s a lot more comfortable just attending?  What’s the difference?  What if you’ve been hurt by church before?  What if membership is just a manmade idea anyway?  Is it really worth the extra time?  What if I’m the shy type who prefers to remain anonymous, ‘off the radar’?…’

These are exactly the kinds of questions our elders answer for you from Scripture in Antioch’s 4-week membership course, offered a few times each year.  In a nutshell, here are FOUR biblical reasons to join a local church: 

  1. Because of the pattern of the first Christians:

In the early church those who were saved and baptised publicly committed themselves and clearly attached themselves to a local body (; ).  In OT & NT times, God has always intended His people to be a clearly marked-off community, one that does not blur the lines between the church and the world, between light and darkness ().

 

  1. Because of your shepherds:

Christ the Chief Shepherd appoints elders and pastors to be His under-shepherds and overseers in each local flock.  But that requires for them to know exactly who is in their flock, for whom God will hold them responsible as shepherds (, ; ; ).  Becoming a member shows that you are submitting to the way that your God-given leaders believe this flock can best be ordered, protected, and built up.  Membership is you allowing your shepherds to care for you in the way they believe most honours God and best cultivates unity, purity and order in Christ’s church.

 

  1. Because of your fellow members:

Membership allows all of us at Antioch to know who wants to be held accountable to the protection and nurture and loving discipline and restoration of this flock.  It’s the only way to have ‘full insurance coverage’ spiritually (; ).

 

  1. Because of the New Testament metaphors depicting the nature of the church and the corporate nature of our faith:

The NT calls the church a “flock, household/family, temple & stones, body”.  Notice that none of these four metaphors allows for merely a loose, informal, undefined or assumed relationship – there is something definite, visible and public to this attachment.  Think about in a natural family:  it’s not only the parents that know who’s in the family, but each kid knows he’s in the family, and he knows exactly who his siblings are also.  That’s why membership sends an important signal not only to a church’s leaders, but to the rest of that church family as well.


41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

Acts 2:47

41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

Acts 2:47

47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (ESV)


But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.

Acts 5:13

13 None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem.

Acts 9:18

18 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized;

Acts 9:26

But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.

Acts 5:13

13 None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem.

Acts 9:18

18 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized;

Acts 9:26

Saul in Jerusalem

26 And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. (ESV)


The Temple of the Living God

14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,

“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
17 Therefore go out from their midst,
and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch no unclean thing;
then I will welcome you,
18 and I will be a father to you,
and you shall be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty.” (ESV)


shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. (ESV)


17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. (ESV)


Final Instructions and Benediction

12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. (ESV)


28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. (ESV)


19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Matthew 18:15-20

19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Matthew 18:15-20

If Your Brother Sins Against You

15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (ESV)


12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” (ESV)