Church Membership

In my last article, I addressed the topic of entrance into the church. I looked to try and answer the question: How does one enter the church? Though no one passage of Scripture necessarily gives us a nice and neatly packaged answer, when we take into account the whole of Scripture, we can understand how one truly becomes part of the church. I, then, chose to look at a short passage to consider some key things about those who are truly part of God’s ekklesia – 1 Corinthians 1:2.

Moving on, many local churches have a membership role or list on which the members of their church have signed up. There are a variety of specifics which each local church will highlight in regards to enlisting as a member of that local church expression. It could be agreeing to a list of particular doctrinal statements, were you water baptized within that local congregation, or many other such things.

While have a membership list is not a bad thing in and of itself, as it can help with accountability of relationship, it can get somewhat confusing for people if we do not emphasise that becoming part of the true church is through calling on the name Christ and recognizing Him as Lord, as discussed in my previous post.

Still, it is interesting to note that the Bible does speak of the church being ‘members’ in two specific ways, of which I would like to briefly look at.

Members of God’s household

19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22)

In the context, Paul is saying that Gentile believers are now part of God’s household along with those Jews who are also in Christ. Whereas the Gentiles had not previously been a part of Israel and strangers to God’s covenant promises (2:12), he shares the amazing news that, because of Christ, they are now fellow citizens with God’s people, members of His household.

Again, remember, by using the word ‘household’, this is not in reference to a physcial building (there is an aspect in which the church is God’s temple building, which I will look at later in this series). Rather, considering the context and recalling what ekkelsia truly means, Ephesians 2:19-22 speaks of being a part of God’s people. Even more, in keeping with the house metaphor, Paul says the church has the apostles and prophets as their foundation, Christ as their cornerstone, they are being joined together (like stones in a building) and are being built together into a holy dwelling place for God’s Spirit. What a calling we have in Christ! We are members of God’s household.

Members of Christ’s body

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free – and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. (1 Corinthians 12:12-27)

This is the famous passage in which Paul compares the church, God’s people, to a body. We will return to these verses later in our studies, but sufficient for now is to understand that one of the main purposes of this passages is to teach us that there are many members to make up the one body of Christ. Not only that, but we are in need of all the members of Christ’s body, even those that some might deem as weaker members.

In conclusion, as I have stated, being part of the true ekklesia (church) of God, His called out ones, does not come by simply signing up on a local church membership. Many a people have done this, even declaring that they agree with all ‘requirements’, but have still never truly called upon Christ and bowed both knee and heart to His Lordship. Thus, while having a membership role in the local church is not inherently wrong, we must be encouraged and challenged to help people truly understand how one becomes part of the church, the body and household of Christ.

Click on the link here to continue in the series on church – The Lordship of Jesus In The Church.

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