Church Membership

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Church membership.

It’s unfortunate that these two words can be a burden for some, frightening for others, or seen as straight up unnecessary. But regardless of how you might feel, the fact that so much ink has been spilled on this topic should encourage us to think carefully about this.

Why church membership? Thankfully, there are various resources written by much more competent men than I – which we commend to you. [1] But one reason has stood out to me as of late, and it is this: our relationship with Jesus walks hand in hand with our relationship to the church.

Just think about that for a moment. Our relationship with Jesus walks hand in hand with our relationship to the church. Have you ever thought about that?

Typically when we think about our relationship with Jesus, we tend to think about it in personal terms – our own hearts, thoughts, purity, devotional life, etc. And while this is definitely true, it is worth noting that, more often than not, the New Testament’s measure of a person’s relationship with Jesus is seen in their relationship to their brothers and sisters in Christ.

Consider for example the book of Ephesians. What does it look like for someone “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling” of Christ (Eph 4:1)? Paul writes that it is by humbly, gently, patiently bearing with one another in love to maintain unity. The measure of a changed life and an abiding relationship with Jesus is seen in how we respond and treat one another (Eph 4:25). Paul in other words uses relational language to measure a person’s love for Christ. To love Jesus, is to love the local church.  I suppose this is why Paul says in Ephesians 5:1-2 that to imitate God, is to walk in love as Christ. 1 John 4:12 similarly declares that the invisible God, “abides in us and his love is perfected in us” “if we love one another.” Our relationship with Jesus walks hand in hand with our relationship to the church.

Notice that Paul is assuming membership in a local context. You can’t be “bearing with one another in love,” you can’t “maintain the unity of the Spirit” or fulfill any other relational exhortation unless we are committed members of each other in a concrete way (Eph 4:25).

Why prioritize membership? There are many reason – membership is a visible sign of our commitment to one another, it frees us from selfishness and moves us outward toward one another, for accountability and our benefit, etc. But one thing I would hope we walk away with is this: because our commitment to Jesus walks hand in hand with our commitment to the church. So I encourage you, if you consider Lighthouse your home for this season of life, consider taking that step toward church membership. Sign up for our next membership class!


[1] Joshua Harris, Stop Dating the Church!; Jonathan Leeman, Church Membership, Bobby Jamieson, Committing to One Another, Thom S. Rainer, I Am a Church Member; Thabiti Anyabwile, What is a Healthy Church Member?