Why Membership Matters
At Providence, we join with the Bible and the breadth of church history in emphasizing the importance of church membership. The following article by Kevin DeYoung, a pastor in the PCA, gives some helpful details to explain why membership in a local church is so important - thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevin-deyoung/why-membership-matters
Here is a brief summary of his points:
1. In joining a church you make visible your commitment to Christ and his people.
Membership is one way to raise the flag of faith. You state before God and others that you are part of this local body of believers. It’s easy to talk in glowing terms about the invisible church–the body of all believers near and far, living and dead–but it’s in the visible church that God expects you to live out your faith.
2. Making a commitment makes a powerful statement in a low-commitment culture.
Many bowling leagues require more of their members than our churches. Where this is true, the church is a sad reflection of its culture. Ours is a consumer culture were everything is tailored to meet our needs and satisfy our preferences. When those needs aren’t met, we can always move on to the next product, or job, or spouse.
Joining a church in such an environment makes a counter-cultural statement. It says “I am committed to this group of people and they are committed to me. I am here to give, more than get.”
3. We can be overly independent.
In the West, it’s one of the best and worst thing about us. We are free spirits and critical thinkers. We get an idea and run with it. But whose running with us? And are any of us running in the same direction? Membership states in a formal way, “I am part of something bigger than myself. I am not just one of three hundred individuals. I am part of a body.”
4. Church membership keeps us accountable.
When we join a church we are offering ourselves to one another to be encouraged, rebuked, corrected, and served. We are placing ourselves under leaders and submitting to their authority (Hebrews 13.7; 1 Peter 5.5). We are saying, “I am here to stay. I want to help you grow in godliness. Will you help me to do the same?”
5. Joining the church will help your pastor and elders be more faithful shepherds.
Hebrews 13.7 says “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority.” That’s your part as “laypeople”. Here’s our part as leaders: “They keep watch over you as men who must give an account.” As a pastor I take very seriously my responsibility before God to watch care for souls ...but it’s even harder when we don’t know who is really a part of this flock.
6. Joining the church gives you an opportunity to make promises.
When someone become a member at University Reformed Church, he makes promises to pray, give, serve, attend worship, accept the spiritual guidance of the church, obey its teachings, and seek the things that make for unity, purity, and peace. We ought not to make these promises lightly. They are solemn vows. And we must hold each other to them. If you don’t join the church, you miss an opportunity to publicly make these promises, inviting the elders and the rest of the body to hold you to these promises–which would be missing out on great spiritual benefit, for you, your leaders, and the whole church.