Why Church Membership?
Why church membership? Those words are in no verse of the Bible. So why do we practice it at EFree?
Because it’s biblical. No, it’s not in any verse, not those words, but the practice is implied in the early church. In Acts 6:3, the elders tell the congregation to choose from among themselves seven men to be the first deacons. Implied there is that there must have been some way to determine who was “in” the church, because the task of choosing was given to the congregation. There had to have been some way for the church to know who had a right to join into the choosing process. Did they do it how we do it? Luke doesn’t say - and probably not exactly. But the concept of membership, of being able to determine and delineate who is in and who is out, is there. It most certainly had to do with who had made a public confession of faith, and been baptized, and who was also continuing in the fellowship described in Acts 2:42-47.
Because it delineates who has standing to affirm congregational decisions. We, like the early church, are elder-led, but questions of budget, buildings and leadership fall to the congregation. Membership delineates who has that right.
Because it says the church’s shepherds, “Shepherd me.” The elders are charged by God to shepherd the flock of God. But when they look out on this people, who comprises “the flock”? It is everyone who is in attendance, yes, but our charge as elders becomes that much more clear regarding members. It’s more ambiguous, less consistent - and less useful to you - to those who are not members. That’s not a volitional choice on the elders’ part; that’s human nature. We focus more deliberately on those who are clearly “in”. This makes the elders’ oversight that much more useful to you, and me. The shepherding of biblically qualified shepherds is a God-ordained means of grace - we are malnourished without it.
Because it says the people sitting next to you in church or your group, “I’m in.” How does the person next to you know that you are taking seriously this thing called church - the mutual responsibilities, the one-anothering, the sacrificial love, the reality that we really are brothers and sisters in Christ? How do they know that? The process and final declarations of membership says that. Yes, all Christians are “one body” - Ephesians 4. But how is that delineated and manifested, at our local, micro level? Membership.
**If you would like to explore membership further, please call or email the church office, or see a pastor or elder.