Why Does Church Membership Matter?
Through the years I’ve been asked the question, “Does church membership matter?” I’ve even asked the question myself. I mean, where in the Bible to we find a verse exhorting us to join an official church membership roll? But that doesn’t mean membership is devoid of value. Here are some of the many reasons formally identifying as a church member benefits you and the cause of Christ:
Church membership raises a flag for you and others which identifies your spiritual family. I still remember with pride being part of my first t-ball team, the “Bears.” I loved my blue shirt and thought it was cool that we were referred to as the “Bad News Bears,” not realizing that was a commentary on the quality of our play. But I belonged! Identifying with a church in membership signals a conscious choice to embrace the hard work of spiritual community with others, knowing you can’t get nearly as far going it alone.
Church membership involves placing yourself into mutually accountable relationships. It acknowledges our need to entrust ourselves to the spiritual leadership of others and to spiritually invest in others. I need to see, watch, learn from, and be corrected by those who are “walking worthy.” I need that, and I need to be that for others! God has given us the local church and its leaders, imperfect as they are, to help us to maturity in Him.
Growth, Encouragement, & Support
The Christian life was never meant to be lived alone. We were created for relationship, first with God and then with others. The “one-anothering” of the Bible comes alive as we interact with each other. We learn about love, service, sacrifice, patience, kindness, longsuffering, and so much more when we’re bound to others. We also discover what it means to be carried when our strength is gone and we aren’t sure we can carry on. That is the Body of Christ in action. When everyone is focused on serving others rather than themselves, the dynamic power of spiritual community is unleashed.
Jesus didn’t come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28). We miss something vital about the mission of God if we are isolated from His family. We can accomplish so much more when we work in harmony and in concert with other believers. Something special happens in a spiritual community when all the parts do their work! Our witness demonstrates extra power when we demonstrate vibrant, Christ-like community.
We live in a “low-to-no” commitment society, and we suffer from it in incalculable ways. When things get tough, we just move on and forfeit the maturity that could have been ours (James 1:2–4). That is a travesty. This happens all the time in all kinds of contexts, including the local church. Relationships are hard, and churches are not exempt from those challenges. Certainly, there are times and situations where a church change is merited, but too often people move to a different church still carrying the baggage that God would love to free them from.
Stewardship vs. Consumerism
A church member should increasingly have the mindset of a steward. They take ownership and responsibility for their spiritual community and invest themselves in making it the best it can be for God’s glory. They sacrifice their time, resources, abilities, and gifts freely. They are more concerned about the good of others than they are about themselves.
Is it time you consider church membership at Grace? Read more about membership at Grace and the privileges and responsibilities that Grace members enjoy. Then join us this Sunday, May 7, at 4:00 p.m. in DC205 for the next Considering Church Membership class (learn more and RSVP here).
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Jonathan Wiley is the Community and Connections Pastor. A native Buckeye from northeast Ohio, Jonathan met his wife, Kim, at Grace, where she has been connected since childhood. Jonathan studied business (Grace College) and theology (Grace Seminary) before working in management for a leading multi-national corporation in northern Indiana. In addition to spending time with his family, Jonathan enjoys the outdoors, water sports, handyman projects, and commiserating with Cleveland Browns fans. Jonathan and Kim have three young children.