Summary: What is "church membership" all about? What does it mean? "Just who is a member?"
TITLE : THOUGHTS ON CHURCH MEMBERSHIP
SCRIPTURE: 1 CORINTHIANS 12:12FF
Most of us, for the most part, do not like to be alone all the time. We like being a part of something. Whether that is a group activity or being where other people are, we like being a part of it.
In some circles, being a “member” of certain clubs are a status symbol. Country clubs, academic clubs, sports clubs, hunting clubs, gun clubs, etc... Certain clubs bring a certain amount of prestige to a person.
Some aspire to be members of certain clubs... doing things to impress the membership to be noticed... being active in the community so that others will notice their activity. Some try very hard at being seen.
Now, I am not saying that membership in clubs is bad. There are great clubs out there that do great things... but do we let the “club” mentality infiltrate the church? Have we let our gatherings on Sunday become just a “social club” gathering?
This morning, we want to look at what church membership is all about... We want to talk about what it means, what it is, and just who is a member of the church. Are we members of a particular “church” or are we members of a greater community of believers that cannot be defined by walls? Are you a member of THIS church or some other church? Or are there even “other” churches to be members of?
I. CHURCH MEMBERSHIP: WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
A. What does it mean to be a “member” of a church or church?
1. Define church...
a. Some misuse or mis-interpret the word “church”.
1. Like saying “born-again” Christian.
2. Like saying “going to church”.
3. Like saying “see you at church”.
4. Or is it just a matter of semantics?
a. “I know what I mean when I say church...”
b. “I know what I mean when I say ‘that outfit complements you...”
1 : a building for public and especially Christian worship
2 : the clergy or officialdom of a religious body
3 : a body or organization of religious believers: as a : the whole body of Christians b : DENOMINATION c : CONGREGATION
4 : a public divine worship *goes to church every Sunday*
5 : the clerical profession *considered the church as a possible career*
b. See? Even Merriam-Webster can only get it partially right.
1. Take note of definition number 3a.
a. “3 : a body or organization of religious believers: as a : the whole body of Christians “.
2. Define membership...
a. You can be a member of many things...
1. Lion’s Club; Rotary, etc...
b. What makes you a member?
1. Paying dues? Attendance? Volunteer hours given? Interest?
c. Does membership constitute being a part of a building or a group?
1. ILL... Lion’s club park... Moose Lodge... etc.
Again... from Merriam-Webster...
1 : the state or status of being a member
2 : the body of members *an organization with a large membership*
3 : the relation between an element of a set or class and the set or class.
B. Let’s take a moment to talk about “fellowship” and the Greek word for “church”
1. Greek: "ekklesia."... the “called out”. 1Peter 2:9...
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
2. Fellowship... Greek: “koinonia”. Acts 2:42...
They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
3. Now... the question... Can you have these elements in “worldly” social clubs? Of course...
a. People who are members of the club have been called out from the rest of us and at each meeting, they have fellowship.
4. So... what makes the church so different then?
II. CHURCH MEMBERSHIP: WHAT IS IT?
A. What is “church membership?” “What makes one a member?” What makes being a member of the church any different than being a member of some social club?
1. Well... let’s answer the last question first... in some cases... NOTHING! Some look at the church and it’s functions not any differently than any other social function.
a. They make sure that put it on their calendar for the week.
b. It’s just a “slot of time” filled with activity during their week.
2. Let answer the second question, second... “What makes one a member?”
a. Does just spending time in the church building?
b. Just coming to the services?
c. Just giving money in the offering?
d. Giving large gifts to the congregation now and again?
e. Volunteering time to maintain the building?