Church Membership Matters

This article is from Mark Fox...with comments following.

A supply preacher for a small-town Texas church came in early on Sundays, preached a sermon to the congregation and then left after lunch. One Sunday, he arrived earlier than usual, so he sat down at a local doughnut shop, opened his Bible and went over his sermon notes. A man sitting down at the counter said, “You a preacher or something?” “Yes,” he replied, “I preach at the Christian church here in town.” The man got excited and said, “Hey, I’m a member of that church.” The church was small and the supply preacher knew all the regulars, so he said, “I’ve been preaching there for about three months and I’ve never seen you there.” The other fella gave the preacher a strange look and answered, “I said I was a member of that church. I never said I was fanatical about it!”
   
OK, so here’s the question: Would you feel like your hands were fanatics if you woke up every day and they were still attached? How about your feet? Would you think your liver was over-the-edge “too committed” if it stayed in place and did its job, day in and day out? How about your eyeballs?
 
If you answered no to all of those questions, then you are still in your right mind. It has not left you. So, get this. The church is compared to the human body in the Bible. Paul uses a metaphor to compare each individual member of the church to an individual body part: an eye, a foot, an ear, a hand, even a head. (Which gives us assurance that he is speaking in this chapter, 1 Corinthians 12, about the local church body, not the universal church, for which there is one head: Jesus.)    

Here’s the point, three of them in fact. One, we need to be connected to one another in the church just like the feet need to be connected to the body. Connected feet stay healthy; disconnected feet die. The body needs the feet, also, to do its work effectively. The body cannot do all that it is designed to do when one of its members is not able to carry its weight, so to speak. In the same way, the church needs its members to be there, be committed, and do what they have been uniquely gifted by God to do.

Point two, the body is in this together, for good or for bad. The Bible says, “And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it.” Don’t believe it? Smash your thumb with a hammer this afternoon, you know, just as a biblical experiment. See if the whole body doesn’t suffer along with it. See if the whole body doesn’t stay awake half the night with the thumb. It is the same with the church. When one member is suffering, either because of willful and unrepentant sin, or because of trials and tragedy, the whole body is affected. That’s when the body also does some of its most important work, to heal the offending or the suffering member. That’s where point three comes in.    

The members of the body care for one another, just like your right hand acts in kindness toward your left foot by removing a splinter. The local church cares for its own. The church also reaches out to those who are not connected and invites them to meet the head, Jesus, and then to join the local body.    

Church membership matters. You don’t have to be fanatical about it. But you do need to get connected.


J. Mark Fox is the author of “A Faithful Man,” his latest book, and the pastor of Antioch Community Church on Power Line Road in Elon. You can find all of Mark’s books on Amazon or other online sellers. Email Mark at markfox@antiochchurch.cc 

In the New Testament, it clearly tells us (especially in Acts 2:37-41) that biblical church membership or being part of the Body of Christ only occurs after:
  1. Belief/Faith in Jesus Christ and His gospel message
  2. Repentance of sin (impurity, worldliness)
  3. Baptism by immersion
So it is simple: If one has not put their faith in Jesus Christ, repented of their sins and been baptized, then they can not be and are not a member of the Body of Christ. This not only applies universally, but also locally. 
Despite the overwhelmingly clear and repetitive teaching in the New Testament that anyone who had put their faith in Jesus Christ and repented of their sins was baptized by immersion right away. Many professing Christians have not been baptized upon profession of faith. So, if you have not followed the command of your savior and been baptized, then we urge you do so and to do so quickly...providing you have truly believed and truly repented.
At the Church of Charlottesville, for one to be a member, all three of these must have taken place. It is then that they enter into the covenant relationship with other believers and members. It is also at this time that they are free to partake of the Lord's Supper along with others.