My Brother-in-Law, Tim B, posted a comment to my article entitled, Could the Apostasy be Upon Us?, where he mentioned church membership. That comment prompted me to make a few comments about the way we Christians handle the church membership these days.
Although I have been a member of several churches throughout my adult life, I began to question this practice a few years ago and decided to study the scripture about it. Can you guess what I discovered? Membership in the visible church is nowhere to be found in the Bible! It is NOT required of us to be a card-carrying, on-the-roll member of any “church” here on earth.
I now attend a church in which I teach a weekly Bible study, but I am not a member. The pastor has told me, though, that I, and my family, may have to “join” the church in the future. My question is, “Why”? I am a member of the invisible church, meaning that I have accepted Jesus as my Savior and attempt to follow Him daily. So where am I commanded to join a local congregation in order to serve Christ?
Yes, I know we are to gather together as a body of believers, to fellowship with other believers, but nowhere does the scripture say that we are to “become members” of a congregation of an earthly church.
I’ve often thought that if I were to become the leader of a group of believers, be it a “church” or a “group” or whatever – that I’d not require “membership” in this group. It’d be a group of believers in Christ, where non-believers who are seeking answers about Christianity are also welcomed.
The church is special, it’s a foundation of Christianity, but let’s not turn it into something the Pharisees would be proud of! Let’s keep it biblical. Let’s honor God with our meetings by not imposing man-made rules which hinder godly growth in Christ.
Concerning the pastor of the church I now attend; I get the impression that he thinks the same way I do (this is a board-run church which the pastor and I both agree is not biblical (although I do not want to speak for him)). I do know that he fully wants to serve God, not man; of this I have no doubt. He is trying hard to lead this small congregation to service and obedience to the Word (and I do see some positive responses).
But to have a “sign-on-the-line” membership church is not biblical. I know that I will have to “sign” again someday so that I can serve God; but I won’t like it. When will the Church of Christ seek only to please Him and not man? When will we, as a Christian body, say “I will follow you, Lord”, and not throw in my rules on top of His?