Most believers join a church in order to be identified as a member of that particular church and/or denomination. Some people join a church for the status symbol it provides - that is if it's the "right" church. Some join a church because their ancestors were members of that church or they have some other family history with the church. People "join" a church for a variety of reasons.
I want to look at the biblical aspect of church membership, as we know it today. Is "joining" a church or "taking membership" with a church biblical? In a word, NO!
The Scriptures speak of us, as believers, being members of one another, joint heirs with Christ, part of the Body of Christ, a church of saints, a kingdom of citizens, a building of stone, a vine of branches, a fold of sheep and even a household of children but no where does the Bible speak of "joining" a church. I find that quite interesting.
As I researched this practice of the modern day institutional church, I found this was yet another one of these "man made" things. Ever since I was a youngster I've heard about the importance of church membership. As I grew older and matured in my walk with God, I began to search this out on my own. I do see in Scripture that we are "born again" into the family of God. So in my mind when one is born again they belong to the Body of Christ. We are members one of another. We need one another on this journey. Of that there is no doubt. But what about this "joining" thing?
Why do we emphasize these things that have no foundation in God's Word? Perhaps the problem is that we have no problem submitting ourselves to man made traditions. The problem comes in surrendering and submitting ourselves to God and His Word.
Two of the churches I pastored (the two we started) did not have church membership. We believed if one was born again they are part of the family of God. If that's good enough for the Lord, that's good enough for us. Why add anything to it? For many, this was too far outside of their comfort zone. As we've become comfortable with our man made traditions, the Word of God has become ineffective in our lives and our churches because of these same traditions.
It's time to let this tradition of church membership go! It's time we get back to Bible basics. There are no second class Christians. When we are born again, we belong to the Church. Period. End of story. There is not a class of people who are members and this other lower class of people who are not members. At least I don't see that in the Bible.
This Sunday I am going to propose an amendment to the By-Laws of the church God has set us in, to do away with formal church membership. We have nearly as many non-members as we do members. It's time to tear down this wall of separation! For some, this will no doubt be too far outside of their comfort zone. However, the time has come. Perhaps I'll have more to share on that later.
Until next time...enjoy the journey!
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