Why join a church? You belong here! You are not here by accident. You are important to God. He loves you unconditionally and has a plan for you, and that plan includes being a faithful and active part of a local church. Every follower of Christ is designed to be part of a local church.
Throughout the Bible, there is a clearly defined community of God. The New Testament refers to this group of people as the church (ekklesia = an assembly). In Paul’s letter to the church at Rome, he made the analogy of the church being the body of Christ. “Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.” Romans 12:4-5 The church universal includes every believer of all time. Christ unites all of us. But we all also have a responsibility to a local church. In Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth, he writes, “All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.” 1 Corinthians 12:27
Church membership is nothing like a country club where you pay dues and receive a service. Church membership is a commitment to be a part of God’s community through the body of Christ. In order to be a part (a member) of the body (the church), you must commit to a local church. The term “local” refers to a specific location with a specific people. The term “body” represents how there are no lone ranger Christians. Those who have faith in Christ are meant to be connected to a larger group of believers through the church.
What’s the big deal about membership? Your commitment matters to God. The difference between attending a church and joining a church is commitment. I recognize some may have experienced pain through churches that hold to an unbiblical view of membership. Unfortunately, some churches can be overbearing and harsh. Perhaps you were raised in a church that had a loose view of membership, or none at all, and now this whole idea sounds strange.
But Christ committed to the church, and we should commit to Him. Jesus is the Groom. The church is the bride. The New Testament does not teach “just me, Jesus, and no one else,” but rather a connection to a local church. Our culture can push against commitment. It’s too easy to “like/unlike” and “follow/unfollow.” The church is your opportunity to be counter-cultural in the way Christ calls us.
Committing to church membership will help you grow spiritually. God did not design us to grow in isolation. Being on a spiritual island is lonely. The church is a community of imperfect people serving a perfect Savior together. We commit together to follow Him. God has you here for a reason. People choose churches for a number of reasons: proximity, doctrine, personal connections, or vision. Whatever reason drew you towards this church, it is now up to you to make the commitment.
You need your church, and your church needs you! In Philippians, Paul highlights the concept of giving and receiving. Paul gave them support through the gospel while the church supported his work. We are called to minister to others, but there will be times when we need others to minister to us. This sense of community only comes through the local church. Additionally, God has a mission for you. God has a plan to seek and to save the lost, and He wants you to be a part of it.
As you become more involved as a member, you will find a lot you like about this church. You may also find things you dislike. The church is like a family—we will have our ups and downs. The goal is to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. God placed you in this congregation for your own good, but He also placed you here for the good of others. Those inside and outside the church need you. The real reason to join a church is simple. Jesus is here.