I love church membership. After I resigned from our last church we were on the pew of our current church the following Sunday. We kicked the tires of the church for a short time and believed that it was a good solid church to be a part of. A short time later we became members. We wanted to be under the care of our elders. We wanted to be accountable to someone and have them point out the blind spots in our lives, if something needed to be brought to light.
We have no doubts about our observations a year later. We’re part of a gospel-loving, devil-hating, Scripture-preaching, false teacher revealing congregation (to semi- quote what a new member said at his baptism).
I’m not going to hit on all the things that Kevin DeYoung does in his link at the bottom of my post but I do want to hit on one of the negatives of not having church membership or not making it meaningful.
I call it one-way accountability. Many who don’t take membership seriously have a twisted view of accountability. The church is seen as accountable to them and they are accountable…to themselves.
I was at a business meeting one time and a guy attended the meeting who hadn’t been at the church for over a year. He wasn’t even a church member. I may exaggerate, he might have been there a time or two in the last year and attended somewhat regularly for a short period of time. The interesting thing was that he had lots to say when input time came. I was pretty rattled. The attitude was kinda ‘I can do with my Sunday mornings as I please but I will watch over this church and respond to the gossip I hear and make sure that the leaders stay in line.’ (The question in my head was ‘in line with what?’) The puzzling thing was that some of the members seemed to be taking his recommendations seriously. He was in direct violation of Hebrews 10:24-25 but some people were all ears to his perspectives.
I didn’t know the spiritual condition of this man. To the best of my knowledge he had never been discipled. From my vantage point he was a wayward believer at best and perhaps not truly regenerated by the Spirit of God…he may well not have been saved. I saw some behaviour in his life that was very consistent with the world and there was no fruit evident in his life…that I could see.
I love the church, but when unbelievers and wayward believers have sway with the leadership and with the members, you know darn well that that church is going no place good. Oh, may the church hold to membership and make it meaningful for God’s glory and to escape the schemes of the devil.
For more insight on church membership, take some time to read Kevin DeYoung’s post.