Summary: The second sermon in this series on Church Membership is designed to help believers know what characteristics to look for when seeking to become members in a Bible-believing church.
Why do churches have so many people on their membership rolls who give little or no evidence of Christian commitment or even conversion? Why do many churches find it difficult to motivate members to give, serve, pray and share their faith? The answer is simple. The members were allowed to join with no expectations placed on them. And, therefore, you get what you ask for!
The difference between attendees and members can be summed up in one word: commitment. It’s like the difference between couples who just “live together” and those who get married. While becoming a Christian means to commit yourself to Christ, becoming a church member means to commit yourself to other Christians. It is a commitment to a specific group of believers who make up what is known as the “church.”
Paul mentions two different types of commitment in 2 Corinthians 8:5: “First they gave themselves to the Lord; and then, by God’s will, they gave themselves to us as well.” (Good News Bible). Paul is saying that you first commit yourself to Christ in salvation, and then you commit yourself to other Christians for membership in the church family.
But, which church should you join? Today’s message will be necessarily topical, so I will not be expounding a single text of Scripture. Rather I hope to draw your attention to several texts that will answer the question: “Which Church Should You Join?”
Once you have settled the question about why you should join a church, the next question is which church should you join?
The great number of religions in the world today confuses most people. All religions have followers who claim to be right and who endeavor to win converts to their way of thinking. To make matters even worse, within Christianity itself there is a wide divergence of opinion, much division, and strong competition.
Some Christians are so perplexed over what is the true way that they don’t make any choice at all! The purpose of this message is to help you determine which church you should join.
Let me begin by saying that you will never find a perfect church. In fact, you may never find a church with which you agree on every belief and practice. So let me point out some basic elements that will guide you to a sound church. If these elements are present, you can confidently join it, work in it, and worship there with enthusiasm and joy.
In determining which church you should join, join a church that has sound beliefs and sound practices.
I. Join a Church That Has Sound Beliefs
First, join a church that has sound beliefs.
Many people who are looking for a church to join have the wrong priorities. Some are drawn to a church by the beauty of its buildings. Others are more interested in its size. Still others are attracted by an outstanding musical program or by a pastor with an impressive appearance, personality, and speaking ability. Many look for a church with a worship service that appeals to them. And there are those who join a church because of its location or the people who attend.
As meaningful as these things may be, however, the most important consideration must be the doctrine of the church. In other words, what does the church believe and teach? That’s the bottom line.
I’d rather be in a church that meets in an old broken-down building with no choir, an out-of-tune piano, and a stammering preacher who faithfully teaches the Word of God than attend a church that’s proud of its beautiful buildings, magnificent choir, or eloquent minister yet denies or ignores the clear teaching of Scripture and lacks the presence and power of the Spirit of God. What is believed and preached in a church is all-important!
So, in determining which church to join, the starting point must be an examination of what that church believes. A good church is sound in the following six vital areas of doctrine.
A. Beliefs About the Bible
A good church will be correct, first of all, in its beliefs about the Bible.
It will believe and teach that the Bible is the inspired Word of the living God. God has spoken. He has not left us to grope helplessly in a blind search for truth. The Lord has given us the Scriptures, his infallible written revelation to man. The Bible says that “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
The expression “God-breathed” means that all Scripture is breathed of God. That is, as the human authors penned the Bible manuscripts, the Lord himself was breathing (i.e., revealing his message) through them.