What we Believe
What is church membership
It would be easy to think that attending meetings,
living respectable lives and contributing to the offerings, are adequate
standards for church membership. We would like to suggest some reasons why
scriptural membership should be more meaningful.
Study verse: Romans 12:4-5 - "As each of us has one
body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so
in Christ we who are many form one body and each member belongs to all the
The word 'member' is used three times in our study
verse and each time the Greek word used is 'melos', which has the literal
meaning of 'a limb of the body' (W.E. Vine).
However, today the word
membership gives the idea of a Member as in club. Being "one who belongs to a
body of persons for social or other purposes". The club would have a list of
members who accept club rules, pay subscriptions and have a vote. The club is
an organisation. But as we have seen the bible means member as in limb. That is
being part of a body; this means involvement, function, interdependence and a
situation in which a separate existence is unacceptable.
The NASB puts it this way: "So we who are many, are
one in the body of Christ and individually members one of another."
ARE MEMBERS OF CHRIST - this by commitment to Him.
WE ARE MEMBERS ONE OF
ANOTHER, BELONGING TO EACH OTHER - this by commitment to each other.
The member of a body is a limb and that is the true
meaning of church membership. We are limbs of the body when we are members of
Christ's church, Ephesians 5:30 "...for we are members of His body." But
this is not just theory, or simply mystical or universal, it is factual,
practical, visible and localised. The two aspects of the church or assembly as
used in the New Testament are the universal church and the local church.
THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH is a glorious reality. We enter
by faith in Christ. But it is invisible. It is not yet complete. Its first
meeting is yet to take place. No man can lay his hand on it.
THE LOCAL CHURCH - this too is a glorious reality. We
enter by commitment and responsibility. It is visible, it enables the world to
see Christ at work through his visible body. William Gurnall said, "The church
is nothing but Christ displayed."
Most of the references in the New Testament to the
church refer not to the invisible universal church but to the visible local
church. Speaking on this issue, Vance Havner said, "I believe in loyalty to the
local church. I don't believe in that view of the invisible church that makes
you invisible at church". The local church is the more important for our
practical Christian life and experience.
When a person becomes a Christian, he needs (a) not
only to repent and believe (that will get him to heaven), but (b) also to join
himself to the local church, for a Christian is intended by God to live in
fellowship with other Christians. Family is his purpose in natural life and
'family' is his purpose in spiritual life.
The model for the church is Family and family is the
telescope that brings all the bible illustrations of church into focus. Thereby
enabling us to better understand and appreciate them. But not all churches use
family as their blue print for the church. In fact the models most used in the
church are the Military model and the Business model.
1. The Military model - speaks of a hierarchy -
general, colonel, captain, sergeant, corporal, and at the bottom the private.
The task is vital, people expendable, casualties inevitable. The Military model
looks for enemies to fight and creates heros, personality cults. It shoots
those who don't obey.
2. The business Model - speaks of managing people -
creates experts that make others feel inadequate. The task is vital, with
success and failure being the bench mark of a persons worth. It dismisses the
failures and promotes the successful. It looks for markets to compete in and
others to compete against, the outcome being rivalry, division. Where the
strongest win sounds like a jungle.
Both of these models can exist without God. Both are
Look at a New Testament model
a) Matthew 6:9 "
Our Father in Heaven".
b) Ephesians 3:14-15 "For this reason I kneel
before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives
c) Matthew 12:48-50 "He replied to him, Who is my mother, who
are my brothers? Pointing to the disciples, he said Here are my Mother and my
brothers. For who ever does the will of my Father in Heaven is my brother and
sister and mother".
Jesus did not neglect his physical family providing
for his mother's security as he hung on the cross. NO - Jesus was pointing out
that spiritual relationships are as binding as physical ones, and he was paving
the way for a new community of believers (the church) our spiritual family.
Family is the model that God ordained - it speaks of
living together in harmony, sharing, order and discipline, relationships,
security and value for the individual. It speaks of the privilege of working
for the family, for father. It allows for love, compassion and affection for
family members. Family encourages, releases and supports those the Father has
called to a special task. There are no court-martials or resigning of
commissions in the family, you are in the family because you are born (born
again), it's by birth.
Please ensure you join a local