Why Become a Church Member?
What does it mean to be a member of St. Andrew’s?
Typically in our consumer-oriented culture the idea of membership carries with it the idea of benefit – the organization exists to accommodate my preferences and serve my needs. The church is a completely different kind of community. Someone once said, “The church is the only organization that does not exist for itself, but for those who live outside of it.” At St. Andrew’s we take seriously that we are not called to be consumers of religious goods but providers of God’s love and grace. And we share a common understanding that we do not exist primarily for ourselves but for the benefit of others.
The New Testament assumes some form of committed, accountable belonging to a community of fellow Christians as the normative experience for every follower of Jesus Christ. This community provided each Christian with a place of belonging, service, care and accountability. To be a member of a church is to make a public promise to live our lives in accordance with the Scriptures and to support the mission and ministry of the local congregation. The Bible calls this commitment a covenant.
Four Reasons to Become a Member
As I talk to folks about membership at St. Andrew’s I ask them to commit to membership in our church for four reasons.
- A biblical reason. Jesus Christ is committed to His church. The Bible says, “Christ loved the church and gave His life for it.” Once in a while somebody will say to me, “I like Jesus, I just don’t like the church.” Or, “I’m committed to Christ but not to a local church.” Whenever I hear such statements I know one thing, I’m talking to an immature Christian. How do I know that? Well, the more you grow in Christ, the more you mature as a believer, the more you love what Christ loves. What does Christ love? The Bible tells us Christ loved the church so much that He gave His life for it. The church isn’t, and hasn’t ever been perfect, but it is what Jesus died for. If we are going to be like Christ, we will be as committed to the church as He is – we will love what He loves.
- A cultural reason. Commitment is an antidote to our society. We live in an age where very few people want to be committed to anything . . . a job, a church, a marriage, a country. This attitude has produced a generation of spiritual nomads hindering the fruitfulness of many local congregations. Membership swims against the current tide of America’s consumer religion. It is an unselfish decision. Commitment always builds character.
- A practical reason. Membership defines who can be counted on. Every team must have a roster. Every school has an enrollment. Every country takes a census. Our commitment to membership declares, “here I am, you can count on me.”
- A personal reason. Membership produces spiritual growth. The New Testament places a significant emphasis on the need for Christians to be accountable to each other for spiritual growth.
Church membership at St. Andrew’s is not about rituals or hoop jumping or signing your name of a piece of paper. Membership is about commitment.
A Member Commits to Christ, His Family, His Ministry
I am interested in your spiritual growth and development and over the years I have observed a consistent process of spiritual growth. First, you commit your life to Christ. That’s the beginning of your spiritual life. Next, you commit to Christ’s family, the body of believers. Then, you commit yourself to the ministry of Christ. As we learn to live and grow together in Christ, as His body, He matures and calls each of us to that particular area of ministry for which we’ve been wired and gifted. Speaking of the Church the Apostle Paul encourages us, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2.19-22)
In the family,