A Covenant Membership
The local church is the center of God's contemporary work. Although there are many God honoring ministries that effectively reach people for Jesus Christ, he only promised to build the church (Matt 16:18). Therefore, to join a local church is to get on board with God's agenda. The idea of a Christian unattached to a local church is a completely foreign concept to the New Testament. Church membership, therefore, functions as a tool to incorporate all that the New Testament teaches for the church. At its core, church membership is a covenant aimed at bringing glory to God. This covenant resides around four areas:
Doctrine. We covenant together concerning the full teaching of Scripture - who God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, what the Gospel is, what the church is, and the nature of the Christian life. This begs the question for church members: if asked what you believe in these areas, what would you say?
Leadership. We covenant together to submit to the shepherding ministry of the leadership. I think it would be revealing to find out how many in our churches are unwilling to submist to the spiritual oversight and ministry vision of the leaders. Taking cues from the postmodern pillar of autonomous self authority, people fill our churches as professing believers, convinced that their spiritual life is simply a matter between them and God. Unfortunately, this is a far cry from the New Testament picture for the believer.
Mission. Church membership is a covenant to fulfill the Great Commission left by Jesus. Together, we spur one another on in both evangelism and mutual discipleship. We weekly gather together as a body in corporate worship, then scatter and worship through fulfilling the mission left by Christ.
Service. We recognize the truth of 1 Corinthians 12:4-7: every member has been gifted by the Holy Spirit and placed here by the sovereign will of God to uplift the body of Christ. So, by joining in membership, a person is committing to serve the local body with the gifts that the Holy Spirit have given.
Church membership is a covenant between baptized, regenerate disciples of Jesus Christ, in a local area, whose purpose is to glorify God by following the teaching of Scripture, submitting to the shepherding ministry of the leadership of the body, fulfilling the mission left by Jesus through evangelism and mutual discipleship, and uplifting the body of Christ through the Spirit endowed gifts.
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