Ryan McCreery, Associate Pastor
For as long as I have been serving as a pastor in the local church, one question often pops up: â€œWhy should I become a member of a church?â€ Many times, those asking this question are fairly new to the congregation, may be beginning to connect in a small group or bible study, or may even be involved in serving. All good things, right? So, why should they take a next step of membership?
First, letâ€™s take a look at the early church in the books of Acts. After Peter preaches in Acts 2, the church multiplies by the thousands. Then, in Acts 2:42-47, we see what believers were devoting themselves to. They met together daily, praising God, praying and caring for one anotherâ€™s needs, even eating meals and observing communion together. But, specifically, we see in verse 42, â€œthey devoted themselves to the apostlesâ€™ teaching and the fellowship.â€
Thatâ€™s right! They committed themselves to growing in the scriptures and growing in relationship together. This is a great recipe for living out the two greatest commandments that Jesus gave in Matthew 22:36-40. By knowing and living out Godâ€™s Word, we learn what it looks like to love God with our entire being by loving Him with our heart, soul, and mind. And it doesnâ€™t stop there. Loving God this much gives us the capacity and the desire to love others as we love ourselves, especially those who we are closest to in relationship.
You may have heard Acts 2:42-47 described as â€œthe fellowship of believers.â€ This â€œfellowshipâ€ that the early church believers experienced is derived from the Greek word â€œkoinoniaâ€, which literally means a fellowship or an association comprised of people who share or have something in common. These New Testament believersâ€™ lives were marked by their fellowship of faith following Jesus Christ and devoting themselves to one another. Their highest priority was not just following God, it was described as a fellowship together. In this passage, the words â€œtogetherâ€ and â€œtheyâ€ are repeated numerous times. As a result, they experienced close-knit community, and together they pursued Christ and made Him known. So, who is your â€œfellowship of believersâ€ and who are you glorifying God with and living out the life we have in Christ?
As you consider your life, where is your koinonia taking place? Where are you gathering with others regularly? Our work, friends, schools, sports, activities and neighborhoods all create opportunities for community. In fact, these may be the most natural places to experience koinonia. Remember, you can experience fellowship with any association because you were created for community. But, is Christ the foundation of these relationships? If not, there are deeper, more life-giving relationships out there for you to find and experience. And, I would humbly argue these relationships were always meant to be experienced in the context of the body of Christ.
Church is and has always meant to be like family with close-knit healthy relationships. Therefore, church membership is not a purchased membership that comes with special privileges and exclusive rights, similar to a country club or a wholesale retail company like Samâ€™s Club or Costco. Church membership is a commitment with people following Christ and living out His Word in this world so that we all mature in Christ together and make Him known to a lost and dying world. Church membership is your expressed commitment to other believers, similar to the devotion that the early church had for one another. So then, why church membership? Let me connect the dots in a skeptical world that conditions us to exercise great caution, even hesitation, before making any commitments. Church membership gives you the opportunity to pledge your commitment to a local church and show your devotion to pursuing Christ with other believers.
At Fellowship Bible Church, we invite and encourage all who visit and attend to take our Discover LIFE class at least one time. In this class, elders, pastors, and staff share what it looks like to live out the mission God has called all believers to live out together, and how we specifically live out this high calling of loving God and loving others, together â€“ just like those in the book of Acts.
In this class, we will describe membership as a â€œmutual commitment with Fellowship Bible Church, a fellowship of believers, striving to pursue our mission and vision together.â€ We share about what membership is and what it is not. We share about the responsibility, the accountability, and the intrinsic rewards that a person will experience taking this step of commitment for those desiring to devote themselves to a local body of believers.
If not here, then somewhere! God may not be calling you to Fellowship Bible Church, but if you are a believer, I can assure you He is calling you to devote yourself together with others as one of your highest priorities. Following Christ alone will only lead to loneliness, possibly leaving a person to feel that something is missing. So, let me encourage you, consider your commitments in life. Is it time you took a next step on your faith journey and consider church membership for more purposeful living as a Christian with others?
If you would like to learn more about Fellowship Bible Church or are looking for a new church home, we invite you to join us for our next Discover LIFE membership class on Sunday morning, August 27. If not here, then somewhere!
Sincerely in Christ,