Four Reasons To Join A Church

This Sunday I have the privilege of kicking off the next round of church membership classes. If you attend Fellowship and are interested in these classes, you can find out more information by clicking here.

But maybe, for others of you, you’re not sure if you want to be a member of a church.  You may even wonder why anyone would become a member of a church.  And you can’t help but ask, “What’s so bad about just attending a church?”

Well in preparation for this Sunday allow me to give you four good reasons you should prayerfully consider becoming a member of your church.

You should become a church member…

1.  To Join a Community

All of us are in need of community. Every one of us needs love, encouragement, forgiveness, accountability, grace, and a whole host of other things which can only be found through relationships with people. In the New Testament the word for “community” is the Greek word koinonia. It literally means “participation”. In 1 Corinthians 10:16-17 Paul used the word koinonia when writing about the sacrament of Communion.  His point is every time we participate in the Lord’s Supper we commune (or have community) with Christ. Now the same word koinonia is also translated “fellowship” in Acts 2:42: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Believers were meant to live in koinonia, that is participate in community with believers in the same way we choose to participate in communion with Christ. You can’t have one without the other. Jesus even calls the church his body making it even more clear that to participate in the church is to participate in him, or to have community with him. Becoming a church member is saying, “I recognize my need for koinonia-fellowship, and I want to live in community with with Christ and his body.”

2. To Show Up to Build Up

What is the essence of participating in community? It is choosing to show up in order to build up.  As Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” There comes a point when believers no longer show up to worship services, discipleship groups, and service opportunities to be served but to serve. Becoming a member of a church is saying, “I want to  to spur others on toward love and good deeds and I am choosing this community of believers to encourage.”  To take this step is to identify with Jesus in a new and deeper way. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:44-45).

3.  To Evangelize Your City

But becoming a church member is not just about encouraging those inside the church. The local church can be the best way to evangelize a community. Mark Dever points out, “When we act together, we can better spread the gospel at home and abroad. We can do this by our words, as we share the good news with others, and as we help others to do so. A local church is, by nature, a missionary organization.”* If you have a love for your community–a heart for the lost at home or abroad–then becoming a member of your church is one of best things you can do to reach people for Christ.

4. To Join Jesus in His Mission

And this led me to the fourth and most important reason: becoming a member of a church is becoming serious about joining Jesus and his mission.  I love the video below. Bill  Hybels shows why committing to a local church is absolutely necessary for every believer…

If you believe the “church is the hope of the world” because “it stewards the message of Christ,” then commit to a community of believers so that you can, together with other believers, more effectively bring the hope of Christ to someone else.

 

 

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* Mark Dever Nine Marks of a Healthy Church pp.164-165

What Should The Church Expect From You?

Two weeks ago I wrote a post entitled,  Three Things You Should Expect From Your Church Elders. It looked at the responsibilities of every church elder toward their members. If you’re considering church membership or already are a member of Fellowship you should take a moment to read it.

This week I want to move from the responsibilities of the church elder to the responsibilities of the church member. Specifically, what should the church expect from each member?

By church I don’t mean a building. The Greek word for Church in the New Testament is Ekklesia, which means an “assembly of people.”  In this case it the assembly of God’s people. Every time Christians assemble together, they are a church.

So, the question is, when we gather in our local assemblies, what should we expect from one another? Or to put it another way, as a member of a local assembly, what should my assembly expect from me?

God’s Word is clear, there are certain duties each member of a church should strive to carry out. When each member is faithful to carry out such duties, the church flourishes and is a beautiful community.  But, when church members fail to carry out such duties, the church dwindles and the community is down right ugly.

What are these duties which can make or break a church?

First, there are  the “one another” commands.

Then, there are a few other duties.

Now, I would encourage you to read over the above list a few times. And please click on each of the links,  and read all the Bible verses (they took me forever to link, so please use them :).

Then think for a moment, what would a church (an assembly of God’s people) be like if each member actually pursued all these duties?

Of course all us are imperfect, and all of us need the help of Jesus to carry these things out. But hopefully you can start to see just how beautiful a church could be if its members sought after these things.

If you knew that your church had members like this, wouldn’t you want to bring your friends? Wouldn’t you talk about your church to people at the office, or at school? Wouldn’t you want everyone you know to come to your church? Of course you would.  Because a church with members like this would be a church you would LOVE!

You can see now why such a church would flourish.

Jesus knows the potential beauty of every local church. And Jesus knows the potential every local church has to flourish.  And what He wants us to know is that such beauty and flourishing doesn’t happen with flashy programs or a lot of money. It doesn’t happen with celebrity preachers or even media savvy.  It doesn’t happen with the latest business techniques, or “church growth model.”  It simply happens when each member of the church strives to live out the responsibilities they have been called to.

I would love to see every local church grow and radiate with beauty because its members were living out their calling. Imagine if our city were filled with such churches. Imagine if our state or country were filled with such churches! What a difference there would be.

Maybe it’s a silly fantasy to think about. But maybe it isn’t. Maybe it just starts with you and me committing to live out our calling as members of a church.

Would you help us become such a church?

 

 

 

 

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List of church member responsibilities taken from Mark Dever’s  Nine Marks of a Healthy Church

Three Things You Should Expect From Your Church Elders

At Fellowship we’re gearing up for another church membership class. This is a great opportunity for attenders of our church to take the next step on the Path of Discipleship. And move from church attender to committed member. Now often when pastors talk about church membership we talk about expectations for our church members. But today I want to flip the conversation, and talk about what members should expect of church Elders[1]. Here are at least three things which every church member should expect from their Elders:

Soul Care– Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account.”

As a church member you should expect your church leaders to keep watch over your soul.  In fact, this job is so significant that each Elder will have to give an account to God about how they did.  What does soul care look like? At least three things. (1) Elders should help you grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. (2) Elders should encourage and offer counsel to you when you are burdened by the things of this world. (3) Elders should protect you from the lies, deceptions, and evils which keep you from having joy in Jesus.  In short, Elders should care for your soul by teaching, encouraging, counseling, and supporting you, in every area of your life.

Now as much as Elders (myself included) would like to give this kind of care to every person we meet, the truth is it is just not possible.  But as a church member, you have made a public statement saying “I want my soul to be cared for by the leaders of this church.” Therefore, you can and should expect to have the priority of such care.

Tangible Acts of Love- 1 Timothy 3:2 says, “Therefore an overseer must be… hospitable… “

Hospitality is a lost art in our culture. But the Bible is clear an overseer (that is a church Elder) must be hospitable. Why is hospitality an necessary quality of Eldership? Because hospitality is a tangible expression of love for one another. To be hospitable is to open not only our homes to others, but our lives as well. It is to no longer minster to someone at arm’s length, but instead to bring them in close and  show them love.

Again, this isn’t something Elders can do for everyone. But if you are a church member, then you have committed to be a part of our family, and so in turn we commit to you. And one way we commit to you is by loving you in real tangible ways, like being hospitable. So as a church member you should expect your Elders to invite you into their lives and into their homes, as a way of showing you love.

Equipping– Ephesians 4:11-12 says,  “ And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,…”

Elders fall under the categories of shepherds and teachers. But like the job of the apostles, prophets, and evangelists, our job is “to equip the saints for the work of the ministry”. What does this mean? First, it means our job is to help you grasp deeply the truth and power of the Gospel for your life. Then, help you understand how to rightly handle the Word of God. Next, we should help you discover your spiritual gifts. And finally, we should help you find a context for using those gifts to serve others.

Equipping the saints is something I’m passionate about. But it is a really big job, even in a not-so-big church.  Thus, it is not something that I or any other Elder can do for just anyone who comes to one of our ministry programs or who visits our church.  But if you’re a church member, then you are our target audience. And you can and should expect for us to equip you for the work of the ministry.

I’ll be honest as I look over the above three expectations I get a little nervous. Because as a pastor I’m reminded just how significant my job is, and at the same time just how often I fall short of meeting these expectations. And of course the above list isn’t even complete–there are still more expectations I could have added.  But despite my weaknesses, I still want to encourage every church member to expect these things from me and every other church Elder.

We might not complete our work with perfection (that’s why we too need soul care, love, and equipping as well). But even so, this is the job Christ has given us to do, and so you should expect us to do it.


[1] For Presbyterians, Pastors are also Elders.