What’s the bottom line? Local church membership is
a question of biblical obedience, not personal preference. – Matt Chandler
If indeed, church membership is a matter of biblical obedience, we need to think through what the Bible says about what it is and what it is not. Especially since a number of people have had bad experiences in churches.
Church membership is God’s will for God’s people (life as a member in a local body).
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. - Romans 12:2-5
Church membership is a conscious commitment (devotion).
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; - Romans 12:10
Church membership is a matter of faith (trusting God for good through an imperfect body of believers over time).
To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours: - 1 Corinthians 1:2
Church membership is a matter of love (laying down our lives to serve other believers in a church body).
We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. - 1 John 3:16
Church membership is service and submission (which is a mutual thing between all even though leaders and members have different roles).
And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you. - Hebrews 13:16-17
Church membership is not necessary for salvation (but the love for other believers which is the real issue for church membership is an essential proof of real faith in Jesus).
And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” - Luke 23:43
We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also. - 1 John 4:19-21
Church membership is not the suppression of your pursuit of happiness (full and lasting happiness in God, that is).
Not that we lord it over your faith, but are workers with you for your joy; for in your faith you are standing firm. - 2 Corinthians 1:24
‘Sanctification is a community project.’ – John Piper
Sanctification is the growth in Christlikeness or holiness that is necessary for full and lasting happiness in God. We can't properly pursue our happiness in God without pursuing it in the church!
So, be happy ... join a church!
Note: For more on this, go to our Sermons page and listen to the Pastor's Class and message from January 22, 2017.