Church Membership is a weird thing in 2019’s America. Having just covered what it means to be a church, you may wonder why someone would want to be a member of a local church at all. And practically speaking, there is little advantage to modern church membership.
The Advantages and Disadvantages
The biggest advantage to a believer joining membership is the ability to serve in the church and cast votes for those that have a congregational / democratic church polity.
For disadvantages, the church will expect you to attend church business meetings and you can be brought before the church for discipline and removal.
Given that many churches today spread their umbrella to cover those that attend regularly and not just the members in both prayer, financial support, etc., the incentives for being part of the church are actually fewer than the potential disadvantages.
And while the New Testament believers had to rely on one another for community and sometimes for provisions, the modern American believer can just go find another church and can provide for themselves. They don’t need the community and the stigma from being excommunicated from the community has little sting.
So Why Do It at All?
David McLemore states it this way:
You may say, “I can be part of Christ’s cosmic church without joining a local church.” To that, I would say, “Try it.” Try being a sideline-Christian. Try saying to your fellow Christians that you worship with week-in and week-out, sit in a community group with, fellowship with, and say, “I really love you, but I don’t want to covenant with you. I don’t want to commit to you. You never know, another church down the road might give me more of what I’m looking for. I want to keep my options open.”Why Does Church Membership Matter?
And that’s the core of it. Humanly speaking, we don’t like accountability or having to keep our word, because that denies us the flexibility to do what we want, to sin how we want, etc. We don’t want to commit because being faithful to something takes work, and humans are prone to go their own way. There’s a reason that the Bible refers to us as sheep.
And yet, just as many things in our lives that are good for us, being in a covenant with local believers is a positive thing and will help us to grow more like Jesus. Which if we are true Christ follower we would welcome.
So, if you’re not part of that local body of believers that you’ve been attending, what’s holding you back? If it’s serious enough that you couldn’t covenant with them, why are you still there? If it’s sin, get it right, then join with your local body of believers for the glory of God!