What is a Church?
Before we think about what local church membership should mean, we’d be wise to ask the more basic question: What is it that I join when I join with a local church in membership?
The Church is NOT
- a loose affiliation of people who hold roughly the same religious beliefs, no matter what those beliefs might be. I’m not joining a religious club when I join a church.
- a building. A building is simply a place to meet. I’m not going to an exclusive clubhouse when I go to church.
- a non-profit organization with a clear vision statement and lucid objectives. I’m not joining an altruistic or philanthropic society when I join a church.
The Church IS
- a regular assembly of people who profess and give evidence that they have been saved by God’s grace alone, for His glory alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
- a local, living, and loving collection of people who are committed to Christ and committed to each other.
- a display of God’s wisdom and glory (Eph 3:10).
- a display of counter-cultural, Christ-like love (John 13:35).
Church membership is thus for believers only. It is not for those who simply give cognitive assent to the gospel. It is for those whose lives evidence an increasing application of the principles of the gospel to the situations of their everyday lives, and whose character increasingly reflects the holiness of God.
Used with permission from IV Marks Ministry