Is Church Membership in the Bible?

Pastor J.D. discusses the difference between having a consumer and a committed relationship with the church and where the Bible discusses the concept of church membership.

A glimpse inside this episode:

Spoiler alert: Yes!

The word is not there, but the concept is. (“Trinity” isn’t either, but of course the concept is.) Concept: covenant community where you belong.

We see that evidenced in multiple places:

  • 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians: Paul talks about removing a sinning brother from their fellowship (1 Cor) and then commends them for their actions (2 Cor).
  • Acts 6: They have an election
  • In 1 Timothy 5:3-16, we see a clear teaching on how to handle widows in the church. There’s even language of creating a roster so the leaders know how to care for them well.

Consumer: don’t want to belong.

  • Nothing wrong with consumer… if you’re talking about fast food.
  • Apply it to marriage or my kids, that’s a problem!

Church is definitely a committed, not consumer relationship. You can see that probably easiest in the primary metaphor for the church in the Bible: a body.

  • Imagine your body with non-committed body members?
  • How do you use your gifts and experience the gifts of others?
  • How do you fulfill the “each other” commands?

Practically: what if I am afraid to join?

  • Find a church with good biblical preaching; teaches community; practices accountability; focuses on getting you into ministry. I’m willing to put up with most anything else if those things are there.
  • Don’t wait for a perfect church: if you do, when you find and join it, it won’t be perfect anymore.
  • Bonhoeffer’s three stages of growth: disgust at the sins of others; disgust at your own sin; ready to re-enter church as an instrument in the hands of the Redeemer who has been redeemed yourself than as a self-righteous Pharisee committed to judging everyone.
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