The Necessity Of Church Membership

1 Corinthians 12:12-27, Romans 12:4-8

Every human being begins life in a community. Though born as individuals, our first point of entry into the world is into a family, a nuclear family made of father and mother. Then this family widens into siblings, cousins, uncles, aunties…we are not only born into a nuclear family. Further we live in a neighbourhood so we have neighbours, we attend school so we have classmates, we start to work so we colleagues, if you are a businessman you join one association or the other. Furthermore we identify with a clan, a tribe, nationality. And as iit widens further we identify with a race, a continent etc etc.

Simply, though we are individuals, we don’t live in isolation. We live in communities. This is the natural process of how things work. Human beings are by nature communal, that is we live in community. Though we are individuals, we do not live in isolation, separating ourselves from one another. In fact it is a sign of a problem when people isolate themselves from others. Perhaps they may be going through some psychological issues.

In our local parlance, we have quite a number of proverbs or wise sayings that paint these pictures.

“Praye, w⊃ h⊃ ye, woye baako a na ebu. Na woka bo mu a, enbu” (This simply means if you pick a single stick of broom, you can break it, but you cannot break the whole bunch”.

“Dua ko gye mframa ebu” (This simply means one tree will break when the wind blows on it.).

All these proverbs simply paint a picture of community and unity in the natural world.. In unity there is strength we are commonly told.

This sense of community, reflects also in the church. And the Scriptures we read all points to this idea of community. Last week we addressed certain aspects of the church. Now let’s see some of the things we can learn about as The Necessity Of Church Membership. Is it important? Can’t you be a Christian and live your life in isolation of other believers? What do we need the church for?

When We Are Born Again, We Are Born Into The Church

Just as our first entry into the world is through our families, God has ordained it that our first entry into the Christian world and into Christianity is through the church. People may hate the church, people may have issues with the church, but this is how God has ordained it. We are born again into the body of Christ—which is the church.

For just as the body is one and has many members , and all the the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptised into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves, or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit (Corinthian 12:12-13).

Using the analogy of the human body having many parts but yet is one, Paul drives home the oneness of the church as the body of Christ. The church is the body of Christ. The people who gather are the church and we are made of many different individual. Now note carefully that the church is not just a gathering of any individuals. No, it is not everyone that shows up on Sunday that can be counted as a member of the church (We will address later the process of church membership) but there’s a criteria by which one can count themselves as a member of a church. And this one important criteria is that they are born again: “For in one Spirit we were all baptised into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves, or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit” (v.13). This is speaking about the activity of regeneration by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit changes our hearts and brings us into the body of Christ.

The church refers to all the people who belong to the Lord, those who have been purchased by the blood of Christ. Various other images and expressions are also used to define or describe the church. The church is called the body of Christ, the family of God, the people of God, the elect, the bride of Christ, the company of the redeemed, the communion of saints, the new Israel, among others…In the visible church (consisting of those who make a profession of faith, are baptised, and enrolled into membership of the institutional church), Jesus indicated there would be tares growing along with the wheat (Theological notes on the church, Reformation Study Bible, ESV).

Clearly what this is pointing out to us is the fact that the true members of the church are those who have been saved. So people can be attending church services but are not truly members of Christ’s church.

Church Membership Is For Our Spiritual Growth

When a child is born, we expect them to grow. And when we are not seeing the necessary growth patterns, we have cause to be worried. After birth, nursing mothers attend a post-natal session where the growth of the new borns are tracked. There is what is commonly called “weighing card” which is used to track the growth of the newborns. Their weight, their height all these are checked. And when something is wrong, the mother is instructed on what to do.

Throughout church history, the church has been considered as the mother of believers. Why so? Because it is through the work and ministry of the church sinners are regenerated–born again. It is in the ministry of the church people are discipled to growth. It is through the church God feeds his children.

The Church is a mother because it is her privilege to bring forth into the world the spiritual children of the Lord Jesus Christ…He, who hath taken the Church to be his spouse and his bride, has chosen to bring men to himself by means; and thus it is, through God’s using the Church, her ministers, her children, her works, her sufferings, her prayers, — through making these the means of the increase of his spiritual kingdom, she proves her right to take to herself the title of mother. But when these little ones are born, the Church’s business is, next, to feed them. It is not enough that she has brought them to Christ; it is not sufficient that, through her agency, they have been quickened, and begotten again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead; it is her work to feed them. She gives to them the unadulterated milk of the Word. Through her ministers, through her servants, through the different agencies which she employs, she endeavours to satisfy their longing souls with the bread of life. She gives them food convenient for them; she feeds them by her doctrine, by her ordinances; she bids them come and eat and drink at her table, and it is her earnest desire and effort to supply all their spiritual wants by feeding their understandings, their affections, their hearts; every part and power of the mind and soul, the Church labours to feed (The Church A Mother, Charles Spurgeon, April 8th 1860, THe Spurgeon Center For Biblical Preaching At Midwestern UNiversity)

Our growth as Christians is in the context of the church. The church teaches, the church instructs, the church disciples, then the church “throws” us into the world to go live for Christ. The church doesn’t only go out to preach the gospel, but for those who believe, there is further instruction (Matthew 28). It’s only in the context of the church that disciplining for growth can take place. Note that almost all the letters of the New Testament were written to Churches.

To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours (1 Corinthians 1:2).

“To the churches in Galatia (Galatians 1:2)

God has ordained that those he has appointed over the church will be responsible for teaching, shepherding and guiding. So this is important that you belong to a church that teaches the truth. If you are not here, anywhere you find yourself make sure you locate a sound church quickly to worship with them. And I believe what we are teaching you here is enough to tell the difference between a false church and a true church. That is another topic we will consider in this series. The duty of the church is to feed the flock

shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you;[b] not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory (1 Peter 5:2-3)

All Christians should belong to a local church. This is not optional. It is in the local church they will be instructed. It is also in the local church that they will primarily experience the richness of Christian fellowship with other believers

Mutual Encouragement

When God puts us together as a family in the church, the result is that we will encourage one another. We should make use of Christian fellowship. When one hurts the whole body hurts. We should come to that point. We also watch over one another to not fall in sin. When one falls in sin, we lift them up (Hebrews 10:25-26,1 Corinthians 12:26).

These are but a few of the necessities for belonging to a church

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