Summary: Why should you become a member of a local church? What is the difference between being a member and just being a faithful attender?
Someone once called a pastor to say he wanted to become a church member. He went on to explain that, while he wanted to become a member, he did not want to be expected to worship every week, study the Bible, visit the sick, or serve as a leader or teacher. The minister commended him for his desire to be a church member, but told him the church he was looking for was located in another part of town. The man wrote down the address and hung up. When he arrived at that address, the man came face to face with the result of his own attitude of not wanting to be involved. There stood an abandoned church building boarded up and ready for demolition.
Eph 2:19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
Over the next two weeks, we want to talk about what it means to be connected. After the service today we are having our annual members meeting. Today I want to talk about ‘why membership.’ Why do we as a church still encourage people to become members. Is there really a difference between being a member of a church and simply being a faithful attender?
1. Admission into a new FUTURE
The day you accepted Jesus Christ into your life, you became part of a different kingdom. Paul is writing here primarily to Gentile believers. These were people that would have been excluded from Judaism, from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promises.
However, in Christ we are citizens of the same kingdom. I lived for 10 years as an expatriate in a foreign nation. You cannot become a Kuwaiti, only the male children of Kuwait citizens are granted citizenship. I knew people that had lived there for more than 40 years and still could not become citizens. Being a resident of Kuwait meant that I could benefit from the nation. It was great having cheap gas and not having to pay any tax. However, It was different than being a true citizen since I was always a foreigner. It was never my home because I was never really allowed to be part of that nation.
In Christ, we have found a home. We are no longer expatriates, we belong.
There are many people here today that were born outside of Canada and later became citizens. Lift your hand if you were born outside of Canada. Now, lift your hand if you were born a citizen of a nation other than Canada. What was it like the day you became a citizen of this nation? How did you feel when Canada truly became your home? Was there a new-found sense of belonging?
2. Adopted into a new FAMILY
You are not alone. You are not only citizens of a new country; you are members of a new family. How many of you who immigrated to Canada had family that was already here waiting for you? Did that make coming to Canada easier? I am sure it did!
At the beginning of Ephesians, Paul starts by reminding us that we were all adopted into God’s family. As great as it is to be a citizen in God’s kingdom, it’s even better to be a part of His family.
Look at how John described the greatness of being God’s children:
1 John 3:1 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
There are benefits to being part of a family here on earth. Growing up I always knew that I had a home to come back to. Whether it was being away at university or seminary or when we lived on the ship or later when we lived in Kuwait, I always knew that I had a home to come back to. It was great to live overseas and then return and land at the airport, but it was even better to finally arrive home.
Your family is the place where you belong. They grew up with you and know you. It is where I was raised. It is the relationships that hold a lifetime of memories. It is the place where you can be yourself.
Our church family presents those same kinds of benefits when it comes to our relationship with God. The church is my home. It is the place where I have Christian brothers and sisters to help me to cultivate the characteristics that my heavenly Father wants to pass down to me and see me develop in my life. God has chosen to use other believers to help me accomplish the purposes in my life He has called me to. Your church family is the place you can be yourself.