‘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:
- 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 (Acts 2:41,47; Acts 4:4; 5:13; 9:18,26). 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 (2 Cor. 6:14-18).
- 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 (1 Pet. 5:2-3, Heb. 13:17; 1 Thess. 5:12-13; Acts 20:28). 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.
- 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 (Matt. 16:19; 18:15-20; 1 Cor. 5:12-13).
- 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.