Is Church Membership Biblical?

For too many people the church is simply a social club, just another place for them to win friends, grow their network, and find their support group. While there is nothing inherently wrong with any of those things, the church is so much more these fringe elements.

Membership Pic (Club)

The church is the vehicle by which Jesus is completing his mission to save and redeem those people God has called and to see them grow and mature into the very image of Christ. Sadly, many churches today are struggling to survive. Could this be because we have moved away from biblical membership and instead created a membership understanding and process that looks more like a gym or a Costco membership where people pay their dues and then set for themselves the standard for which they must now be served? 

For the past seven weeks Harbor Church has been working through a sermon series titled, “To Be The Church.” The purpose for this series was to help people lay a solid foundation for the reason Jesus inaugurated the Church and to see what it means to authentically live as a Christian within a church family. This past Sunday the sermon focused on church membership and where we see this throughout the New Testament books and letters. If you would like to learn more about what the Bible has to say about church membership you can listen to the sermon by clicking on this link.

The purpose of today’s blog is to help those of you who listened to the sermon and would like to know more about biblical church membership find some more resources for your study and growth. Our primary book of study should be the Bible and Paul’s letters to the churches in the New Testament have the richest content when it comes to the church and membership. When you read these letters, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Who is the audience Paul is writing to?
  2. How does the topics Paul is addressing give you context for some of the issues this church is dealing with?
  3. What seems to be the specific issue(s) Paul is trying to give insight into?
  4. What are some of Paul’s instructions and insights that you are able to apply towards how you view and live out membership within your church?

Below are a few of the books that have helped me understand church membership more clearly and from which I have drawn insight as I have been preparing to preach this sermon series. All of these books are very small, except for the last one by Mark Dever, which will allow you to read them in an hour or two.

“What Is A Healthy Church Member? by Thabiti Anyabwile (hardback version) (kindle version)

“Church Membership” by Jonathan Leeman (hardback version) (kindle version)

“I Am A Church Member” by Thom S. Rainer (hardback version) (kindle version)

“Nine Marks of a Healthy Church” by Mark Dever (paperback version) (kindle version)

What books or insights have helped you in your understanding and application of church membership?

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