As I was wrapping up an interview with Pastor Voddie Baucham, I asked about the book he’s writing. It’s called Churchless Christianity. He said he’s writing it to exhort Christians to think more biblically about the importance of the local church and their part in it.
See, being part of a local church is about being members of one another. Our membership is not in an organization; it’s in an organism–the body of Christ. And as members of that body, we are connected with each other in living out our faith.
Having formal local church membership is simply a way of seeking to define our relationship with one another—to set expectations.
Paul David Tripp defines the local church as “an intentionally intrusive, Christ centered, grace-based, redemptive community.” Each aspect of that definition helps us think more clearly about the environment in which we can love and serve each other.
John Piper addressed the issue of local church membership with his congregation a number of years ago. Here is some of what he had to say:
The New Testament knows of no Christians who are not accountable members of local churches in the sense that we have just seen. ‘Lone-Ranger Christians’ are a contradiction because becoming a Christian means being united to Christ, and union with Christ expresses itself in union with a local body of believers. It seems to us that in the New Testament, to be excluded from the local church was to be excluded from Christ. This is why the issue of membership is so important.
Are you an accountable member of a local church? Not just: Is your name somewhere? But, are you committed to discipline and being disciplined according to biblical standards? Have you publicly declared your willingness to be shepherded and to be led by the leaders of a local church? Do you see yourself and your gifts as part of an organic ministering body? Do you show by your firm attachment to Christ’s body that you are attached to Christ?
Church membership is a blood-bought gift of God’s grace. More than most of us realize, it is a life-sustaining, faith-strengthening, joy-preserving means of God’s mercy to us. I urge you not to cut yourself off from this blessing.
(Are you fed up with the church? Hear how God views the church today on Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.)