Why is MEMBERSHIP Important?

Encouragement for Your Heart and Mind from Pastor David Staff

When asked, most Americans say, “Yes, I believe in God.”

But when asked, “Are you a member of a church?”, for the first time in the history of the United States, most say, “No.”

Church membership in our country has hit a  new, all-time low (sourced here).  Over the past two decades, the number of Americans who refuse to identify when any faith or religion has grown from 8% (2000) to 13% (in 2020), to perhaps 21% within the last 3 years.

These days—and bucking the trend--we are seeing more and more people come to worship services on Sunday morning.  Our summer attendance has surprised us in a wonderful way.  It is humbling for us to have God give us opportunity with more and more from greater Fremont County.

And yet…and yet it is one thing to attend a church’s worship services, and it is another thing to actually make the personal (or family) decision to officially join.  To become a member of a particular church.

Why would anyone do this?  What’s the benefit?  And, does the Bible teach that we should?
Know three things about CHURCH MEMBERSHIP.

First, MEMBERSHIP FACILITATES SHEPHERDING.  While the Bible doesn’t explicitly command becoming an official member of a church, its teaching implicitly calls for it.  Most of the letters of New Testament Scripture were written to individual churches full of people who regularly attended its gatherings and were spiritually shepherded by the leaders.  Such shepherding requires identification.  Leaders need to know “Who is in our flock?” in order to fulfill God’s calling to “shepherd (or pay careful attention to) the flock of God among you” (cf. Acts 20:28)…to care for the church of God.”  Membership helps the shepherds!

Second, MEMBERSHIP REVEALS SPIRITUAL CONDITION.  A good membership process provides an opportunity for you to communicate how you came to be a Jesus follower (i.e., a child of God by grace through faith) as well as your understanding of basic Biblical truths.  It gives leaders an assurance that your faith aligns with the teaching of Scripture, while also identifying important next steps with Jesus you may want to take.  It also posits you in a healthy place, someone willingly accountable for your walk with God before the leaders of Jesus’ church (cf. Hebrews 13:7,17).

Third, MEMBERSHIP GIVES MOMENTUM TO MISSION.  Each church is an expression of “the body of Jesus.”  The gospel is proclaimed through Jesus’ body.  A dark world needs the “salt and light” of churches in communities who live the truth in love, and prayerfully invite others into the kingdom of God’s dear Son. Leaders count on identified, committed members in order to effectively plan for how the body will influence its area for Jesus.

There are many other benefits which the Bible identifies which come into the lives of those who make a discipleship commitment to membership.

If you have been coming to the Free Church, are following our Lord Jesus and want to invest yourself in the mission God is giving us, may I ask you to JOIN!  Take the first step by coming to our campus on the evening of August 16 for our Discover Membership Seminar (6:30 PM).
A cartoon I saw years ago captured the unhappy mindset of some today.  A clothes-ragged man had spent many years alone on a deserted, oft-overlooked island.  When rescued by a ship passing by, the crew asked the man about the 3 structures just up the shoreline from the beach.

“Oh,” he said, “Well, the first structure is my house, where I’ve lived.  And, the 2nd structure is the church I attend.”

Puzzled, the crew persisted.  “OK, but what about the 3rd structure?”

“Yep,” he replied, “that’s where I used to go to church.”

Ugh!  We can do better, and our Lord calls us to it.  Thanks so much for coming to the Free Church.  We consider it a great privilege to serve you in the Lord.

And yet, if you’re not a member, why not take that first step?  We’ll look for you Tuesday evening.
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