Is Church Membership in the Bible?

Last Sunday we welcomed in a new batch of church members.  This was a joyous day, but there is always that question of whether or not church membership is actually in the bible.  In short, I answered this objection by saying that the procedures individual churches use may not be in the bible (filling out a form, etc.) but the practice of formally attaching your self to the church most definitely is in the bible.

You can listen to the sermon  in full here: Sermon Audio

Here is my outline (you’ll have to look up the references yourself):

  • What is Church Membership?
    • It’s a Formal Affirmation with Christ
      • Affirmation of the Disciple of Christ
        • Mt 18:15-18 & 16:19 – It’s the church’s job to examine & validate an individuals claim to faith in Christ.
        • ILL: German Embassy recognizes, not make U.S. citizens
        • This prevents false assurance – 1 John 2:19
        • This prevents unbelievers from speaking for Jesus.
      • Affirmation of the Body of Christ
        • Jesus’s love for the church is not fickle – Eph 5:25-32
        • A way for Christians to affirm & love the body like Christ – 1 Jn 2:10
    • It’s a Formal Attachment to Christ
      • Attachment for Shepherding from Christ
        • God intends for you to grow through shepherding (Jer 3:15; Eph 4:11-12)
        • Christians don’t get what God intends for them w/o formal attachment
        • If you’re not attached how are you disciplined? (Matt 18:15ff)
        • If you’re not attached how are you shepherded? (Heb 13:17) 
        • ILL: Drifter on side of road represents Christian not attached to church.
      • Attachment for Service to Christ
        • Church membership is a way to formally support the church
        • Must see the church as a place to serve rather than a service provider. 
        •   When the going gets tough the drifter get going, & members stay to serve.
  • Why is Church Membership Important? 
    • It’s important because it’s Biblical 
      • Biblical Examples of church membership
        • Letters of Formal Affirmation (Acts 28:21)
        • Lists (Acts 1:15 [lit. names], 2:41, etc.; Rev 20:15)  
        • Someone excluded from membership (3 John 9)
      • Biblical Principles that require membership
        • Pastors must give account for someone (Heb 13:17)
        • Various images for the church
          • A Building – A Christian not formally attached to church is a lone brick
          • A Family – Like an child who wants to live down the street from family.
          • A Body – A Christian not attached to a church is like a rouge elbow.
    • It’s important because it’s Beneficial 
      • Spiritually Beneficial to Individuals
        • for Discipleship & kingdom preparation (Heb 10:24-25)
        • for spiritual gifts b/c you don’t have them all (1 Cor 12:4-7)
        • for spiritual accountability & covering blind spots (Prov 27:6)
        • for spiritual perseverance (Eph 6:18 & ILL: Navy SEAL buddy stop Marty from quitting)
      • Corporately Beneficial to Churches
        • for corporate unity by enforcing standards of belief (Acts 4:32)
        • for corporate purity by enforcing standards of practice (Acts 5:10-13)
        • for corporate effectiveness by implementing your gifts(1 Cor 12:4-5)
        • for corporate evangelism (John 13:35, the example of Acts)