Why should you come?
Get Connected is:
- For you to find out more about our vision and values, where God has led us from and where we believe he’s leading us into the future
- An opportunity to learn about your passions and gifts and where you’d like to play a part
- Enables us to commit to you for your care and growth as a Christian.
We’re excited to share more about Grace City Church with you, but even more excited to get to know you better!
How Important is it to Become a Church Member?
When we advertise an upcoming Membership Course, I’m often asked “What is church membership? It’s not even mentioned, let alone commanded in the Bible, so why do we do it?”
Simply put, we have church membership because we are both biblically and practically convinced that God has designed it that way for our good and for His glory.
Church membership may not be explicit in Scripture, but it is certainly implied. Remember that Jesus never explicitly stated that he was God, nor did he or anyone else ever use the word ‘trinity’. And yet Christ’s divinity and the Trinity are central to our faith…so just because it’s not explicit, let’s not throw out church membership just yet!
The primary reason we use the word ‘member’ is because Paul uses the word ‘member’ when describing the church as a body (e.g. Rom 12, 1 Cor 12-14, Eph 4-5, Col 3).
But when we hear the word membership, we immediately think of a club. A member pays a fee, signs forms, comes to meetings, and fulfils the obligations of a club member.
However, the Bible says membership is much more intimate, “After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church – for we are members of his body.” (Eph. 5:29-30).
To be a church member means we are a member of Christ's body – just like your finger is a member of your body. His blood runs through us. His Spirit animates us. His will moves us. He feels our pain, cleanses us when we get dirty, nurses our wounds, and cherishes us with pride.
But scripture doesn’t only use this metaphor (of the church being a body) to describe the church globally, it also uses this metaphor to describe the local church. How do we know this?
In Ephesians and Colossians Christ is described as the ‘head of the church’ – global.
But in 1 Corinthians, Paul, the same author of the aforementioned letters describes the church as being a body with different individual members being eyes and ears – local.
So the body analogy has 1) a global meaning and 2) a local meaning. There is global membership in the body universal, and there is local membership in the body where different members are a finger, an ear, an eye etc.
Whatever terminology we use (although ‘membership’ seems to be the best, we would tend to talk about the church as a ‘body’ or a ‘family’), it is actually much bigger than that. It’s a commitment to share your life with a gathering of believers. So in a sense, it is less rigid and yet far more profound than any other club membership.
We are still biblically convinced that church membership is God’s design for us. We don’t want to be like the Pharisees in Mark 7, who were merely holding on to human traditions and institutions, but believe that belonging to a local church is a command of God, not just a personal preference.
Church Membership is implied by:
In the New Testament, 90 of the 114 references to Ecclesia (church) are found when talking about a specific gathering or location. The epistles are written to local churches assuming all believers would be members of local churches and therefore hear these epistles. They were letters written to local churches. Although they are relevant and instructional to us as they were to other churches of the day, they were written to specific gatherings of believers.
“Those who accepted his message were baptised, and about 3,000 were added to their number… and the Lord added to their number daily” (Acts 2:41&47). The biblical pattern is people get saved then added to something…a local gathering, a local church.
Therefore, what church are you gathering with?
In cases of on-going unrepentance, both Jesus and Paul instructed the churches to expel members from the church.
In Matthew 18 Jesus talks about confronting a brother in sin and instructs leaders to ‘tell it to the church’. Who is ‘the church’? The Universal body of Christ? Surely not! Jesus’ expectation is that the issue would be handled by the ‘gathering’ of the local church.
Similarly, in 1 Corinthians 5, Paul says that the man who had been sleeping with his step mother should be put out of the church because he was so unrepentant and resistant, proud and arrogant about it.
But how do you put him out? In order to be ‘put out’ you need to first be in.
Hebrews 13:17 cautions church leaders that they will be held to account for how they lead, and equally followers are instructed to obey their leaders. Both presuppose meaningful church membership.
The verse says that leaders will give and account for those whom they watch over…so who will they give an account for, everyone in the universal body of Christ? Are they responsible for pastoring/shepherding every believer globally past and present? Clearly not.
Christians are similarly commanded to obey and submit to their leaders…so who does that mean they are called to submit to? Any leader, anywhere in the body of Christ? ‘Your leaders’ the verse states, you are called to obey the leaders of the church you identify with.
So who are you committed to sharing your life with? Who are you spurring on? Who are you one-anothering (there are 59 “one another” statements in the NT. That’s right, 59!)?
If you can’t answer those questions, then you’re living contrary to the pattern of the New Testament. God’s design is that we would be committed to both a local gathering and a local leadership, for our good and for His glory.
As Terry Virgo (founder of New Frontiers) said “Individuals who have never experienced the joy and delight of belonging to a loving and vital Christian body have missed one of the thrills of the Christian life. Mere “church-going” was never in God’s plan for you. He wants you very closely knit with a group of dear friends with whom you can share your life.