Before we dive into the topic, let’s get a couple of things straight. When you become a Christian, you become a member of Christ’s church (1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Colossians 1:18). Christ has only one church and it’s not divided on doctrine or practice, but only by location into local churches (Romans 16:16); often referred to today as “congregations.” As well as being a member of Christ’s church, every Christian is also expected to be a member of a congregation.
But what does it mean to be a member of a congregation? I meet people all the time who claim to be members of such-and-such congregation, but don’t seem to grasp what Scripture says about congregational membership. They don’t seem to understand there are obligations involved.
Here are a few of the biblical obligations of congregational membership:
1. Meet Together to Worship and Encourage One Another
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
2. Obey the Leaders (Elders)
“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you” (Hebrews 13:17).
3. Contribute a Percentage of Your Income
“On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper,so that there will be no collecting when I come” (1 Corinthians 16:2).
4. Be an Active Part of an Inter-Generational Body, Teaching and Holding One Another Accountable
“Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled” (Titus 2:2-6).
These are just a few of the obligations involved. In fact, the vast majority of the New Testament deals with issues of being a part of a local congregation. You can’t have Christianity without the church, and you can’t have the church without local congregations. Part of what it means to be a faithful Christian is being a faithful member of a congregation.
Make no mistake, church membership isn’t something to be taken lightly. Just because your name is in a church directory somewhere, doesn’t mean you’re actually being a member of the church like God expects you to be. Think about it.
— Wes McAdams; RadicallyChristian.com