Why is Membership Important?
In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus gave his disciples the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations. Before they were to get started, however, Jesus told them to wait for the power of the Holy Spirit to fall upon them (Acts 1:4; 8). Then, after the Spirit fell at Pentecost, Peter preached the gospel, and 3,000 people were saved. Immediately after this, Acts 2:42-47 describes the first church. From here, the Apostles planted more and more local churches to obey Jesus’ command to make disciples of all nations.
What this shows us is that our discipleship is intimately tied to being a part of a local congregation of believers who gather together to follow Jesus faithfully. According to the New Testament, the Christian life is one that can only be lived in the context of a local church.
When we commit to a church in church membership, we follow the Bible’s pattern for growing in Christ and making disciples. Simply put, church membership is covenanting with other believers to follow Jesus together and carry out His mission to disciple the nations.
Is Church Membership Biblical?
Some Christians don’t think joining a local body of believers is necessary for their faith because they assume that being part of the universal church (being a Christian) is sufficient for their growth and maturity in Christ. However, the Bible instructs all those who are a part of the universal church to gather together regularly in local congregations (Acts 14:23, 27, 20:17, 28; 1 Cor. 11:18-20; Gal. 1:2; 1 Thes. 1:1; Heb. 10:24-25).
Also, one of the ways God helps us know we are part of the universal church and truly in Christ is through our commitment to a local church because church membership places a person’s profession of faith into a real-life setting where they are held accountable to obey and follow Jesus by other believers who love and follow Jesus (Jn. 14:15; 1 Jn. 2:19; 4:20-21). Practically speaking, how can someone say that they are part of the universal people of God or the body of Christ if they are not actually a part of the local people of God and body of Christ (1 Pt. 2:9-10; 1 Cor. 12:27)? And how can someone be a part of the local body without actually becoming a member of that body? If the local church is how Christians grow in Christ and bear witness to the good news of the gospel in the world, then it’s clear that the Bible calls every Christian to belong to a church and become a member of a local body of believers.
Why Join Bethel?
Entering into covenant membership with a church is different than merely attending a church. Instead of being a guest, you actually become a part of the family! Joining a church in biblical membership says, “I want to get serious about my faith and grow in Christ with these Christians. I want to commit and love this body so that Jesus will be glorified in all of us, together.” At Bethel Baptist Church we believe church membership is the way to make disciples.
The local church is how God’s people gather together to worship Him corporately and are equipped to grow in their discipleship to Christ by feeding on God’s Word (Eph. 5:18-20; Heb. 13:15; Acts 2:43; 1 Tim. 4:13). It allows believers to serve one another and bear one another’s burdens (1 Pt. 4:10-11; Gal. 6:2), while also protecting them from temptations to sin and false teachers thanks to the oversight of godly leaders (Acts 20:28; Heb. 13:7, 17; 1 Pt. 5:1-4).
Finally, and most importantly, the local church is how we demonstrate to the world that Jesus really does save sinners. It is how the people of God carry out the Great Commission and tell the world about Jesus (Matt. 28:18-20)! As Christians gather together in local congregations loving, serving, and forgiving one another all while encouraging and helping each other follow Christ, we show the world what it means to worship God and how living for Christ truly is better than living for our sin. (Mt. 5:13; Jn. 13:34-35; Eph. 3:10; 1 Pt. 2:9-12).