Summary: There are many opinions about "church membership", but what does Scripture say? If we are to grow in spiritual maturity, we must be connected in a local body of believers.
In our basic training, we have studied salvation, the church, surrender and lordship. Today, we move our study toward the expectations and responsibilities of those who have been saved and are surrendered to the lordship of Jesus Christ.
You can get a membership to just about anything if you are willing to pay the cost. Amazon, Sam's, Costco, AARP, Triple A, fitness centers, etc… Some may question membership with a local body of believers.
Why should I become a member? What benefit do I receive for being a member? How much will it cost?
Let's clarify the subject of membership, and then we will rely on Scripture for greater understanding.
Membership is probably not the best word to describe our relationship in the Body of Christ. A better phrase may be “mutual agreement”. Every member here has confessed Jesus Christ as Lord and followed through that confession with a testimony of baptism by immersion. Further, every member has agreed to the same biblical doctrinal. As a Southern Baptist church, that is outlined in the Baptist Faith and Message.
Why is this important? First, if we do not have an agreement in biblical doctrine, it will be impossible to function in harmony. Second, if we do not have an agreement in biblical doctrine, we will have different views on the ministry and missions in which we become involved. As an autonomous body of believers, we collectively determine and follow God's direction and vision recognizing Jesus as the Head of His church. The member has a voice among the body of believers. Additionally, a member willingly submits to the other members for their benefit and willingly places themselves in a position to be discipled in Scripture and held accountable to that teaching. There is not an annual membership fee, but there is a daily cost. We give to each other in prayer, service, fellowship, encouragement and ministry.
Is there any Scriptural support?
1. God’s Desire (Ephesians 4:11-16)
God ordained and gifted those who would be responsible for equipping the saints. Who are the saints? The word "saints" indicates those who are consecrated or set apart for God's service. In context, it refers to the people of God. Notice it does not say the equipping of some saints, or most saints.
The people of God are to be equipped for the work of the ministry, and for building up the Body of Christ.
In this passage, we hear three responsibilities for every believer. You are to be equipped.
You are to serve. You are to build up or edify other believers.
This cannot be accomplished in the "church of one". You must be connected to a local body of believers.
So, how long must we continue meeting together? Until we ALL reach spiritual maturity, growing up in every way. Understanding God will continue adding to His church, our responsibility is never completed!
Why do we join together? We need each other.
We sharpen each other in proper understanding and application of God's Word so we will not be led astray.
What are the results? When each part is working properly, the body grows and builds itself up in love. What happens if each part is not working properly? The body does not grow and does not build itself up in love.
2. God’s Design (Romans 12:3-8 and 1 Cor 12:18-20)
We are not individuals in Christ. We who are many form the Body of Christ.
Further, we each have different functions within the Body as God assigns.
If God uses each of us to form one Body and gives us functions within that Body, doesn't it make sense that we would be connected on a regular basis so we could exercise those functions?
Scripture teaches that every member of the Body is given the manifestation of the Spirit. Therefore, in the power of the Holy Spirit, we serve each other. If we are not connected with other Christians, what is the avenue for building the Body? How is it possible to serve each other?
Candidly speaking, you are not truly connected to a body of believers, nor are you serving the Body of Christ by attending a worship service. I have yet to read of the spiritual gift of "showing up".
3. God’s Decision (Heb 10:24-25 and 13:17)
The context of this passage is: since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, LET US.
Let us draw near, let us hold fast, let us consider.
As members of the Body of Christ, we have responsibilities to the Body of Christ. We cannot encourage one another by attending then leaving. So, how can we encourage each other toward love and good works? As we are connected on a regular basis, we practice heavenly principles with each other.