Scott T. Sharp, Pastor
First Baptist Church Nashville
Question: “How do you view church membership?”
As is true with anything, people have differing views about particular subjects and church membership is no exception.
Some people join a certain church because they see membership there as a means of elevating their social standing. Some wrongly believe there is a link between the work they do as members and eternal life in Heaven.
Others never give much thought to why they are members of their church. They simply go because their family has gone for generations and that is where their friends go.
However, the most unfortunate truth about many people and church membership is the belief that belonging to a church is basically the same as belonging to any other social organization. It is a place to go and spend time with friends and family, but membership produces no other lasting effect or change in their lives.
So then, what is church membership really about?
Writing to the church at Corinth, Paul has a good deal to say about membership in the local church.
In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul compares the body of Christ, the Church, to the human body with its various parts.
He explains how each member of the church body is specially equipped to perform a particular function, a ministry, for the good of everyone who attends.
In other words, church membership is supposed to be more about serving the Lord and serving others than it is about being served or entertained in a way that is personally appealing.
It is certainly easy to see how the understanding of church membership has changed from what it was originally intended to be.
Today, the emphasis in many churches is more focused on the personal tastes and desires of members than it is on worshiping and serving Almighty God.
Perhaps membership is best understood from another passage of scripture also written by Paul to the church in Rome.
In Romans 12, Paul writes, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them.”
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