Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Do You Take Church Membership Seriously?

Earlier I linked to John Piper's sermon on July 13, 2008 entitled "How Important Is Church Membership?" It's an excellent articulation of the assumptions in Scripture that warrant a biblical belief in and practice of church membership.

Piper concluded with some excellent personal application questions and a brief appreciation of the church as the body of Christ. If you struggle with the idea or the necessity of membership, I pray you'd listen to the entire sermon and afterward ponder these questions"
Are you an accountable member of a local church? Not just: Is your name somewhere? But, are you committed to discipline and being disciplined according to biblical standards? Have you publicly declared your willingness to be shepherded and to be led by the leaders of a local church? Do you see yourself and your gifts as part of an organic ministering body? Do you show by your firm attachment to Christ’s body that you are attached to Christ?

Church membership is a blood-bought gift of God’s grace. More than most of us realize, it is a life-sustaining, faith-strengthening, joy-preserving means of God’s mercy to us. I urge you not to cut yourself off from this blessing.


dp23 said...

Relevant quote from a recent post by Josh Harris "Not All Who Wander Realize They're Lost" :-

Think of all the Christians in the world who are wandering without connection to a local church--who aren't investing their gifts, their energy, their passion into local churches. Is it any wonder we can so quickly identify deficiencies in churches? Christ's body has a lot of "wandering" body parts."

I think it's a wide-spread problem....

Anonymous said...

On the other hand, it's possible to belong to a church for years without any experience of accountability, discipline or serving.

I've never really understood this whole notion of accountability, anyway. Sure, I joined a church with the best of intentions and subscribed to all its conventions about church discipline, etc., but week in and week out I attended and no one ever really paid any attention to me. Aside from an hour and a half in the service and the odd hour or two in Sunday school, the church isn't watching you like Big Brother.

At most churches (especially large ones) there seems to be an inner circle and everybody else. All the meaningful roles (elder, deacon, Sunday school teacher, committees, etc.) tend to be filled by the clubby folks in the inner circle, and the rest of us come on Sunday morning, worship, drop off a check and go home. It wasn't that I didn't take membership seriously; the church didn't seem to have much need for me.

At large (2000-plus) churches, you can stop attending and months later, no one will have noticed.