Why Join the Church? What’s in it for Me?
A study of the Book of Acts will reveal that within the early Church, there was no option as to whether or not a believer “belonged to the church.” A person who became a new creature in Christ was simply expected to become involved in Christ’s Body – the Church. Although formal membership rolls were not initially kept, specific identification with the Church was a vital part of discipleship.
As we have seen in Acts 2:47, “the Lord added to the Church daily those who were being saved.” In other words, as people started trusting Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, God added them to the Church!
With this Biblical and historical foundation here are 7 points all Christians need to prayerfully consider as they ask, “Why join the Church?”
1. To Become a Participant:
God has called us to a life of active discipleship. He has asked us to leave all and follow Him – to be a participant and not merely a spectator (Mark 8:34). There is no Biblical basis for spectatorship. We are called to involvement. In addition, Jesus Christ always called people to a commitment of life. For example, in John 14:21 Jesus stated that “he who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me.” To belong to the local church is a public confession of faith in Jesus Christ and a statement of commitment.
2. To “Live Out” My Life as a Disciple:
As we have already shared, the New Testament has much to say about believers becoming members of the Body of Christ. Both Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 speak very clearly that each person who is a new creature in Christ becomes a member of the Body. If this is to become functional, it can only take place when believers make the commitment to become involved in a local church fellowship.
The Biblical picture of the body is that all the members belong not only to God, but to one another. They are related to one another. When one member hurts, all the body hurts. When one member rejoices, all the Body rejoices! To be a disciple of Christ involves being a part of His Body – the Church and relating to other believers within the Body. This seems not to be an option – but an imperative.
3. To Help Determine Ministries:
Jesus stated that He has called us not only to be ministered unto, but also to minister to others. Only by being a member of a local church can one help in determining the priorities and the future course of that church’s ministry and how it can best serve the community.
4. To Give and Not Just Receive:
The Biblical model of discipleship is marked by agape love. Jesus said that agape love would be the outward identification of a Christian (John 13:35). Jesus also taught that the goal of His disciples should not be to “get” but rather should be to “give.” Agape love is concerned about giving! Jesus called us to lovingly serve Him and one another. Spiritual gifts are to be used not for one’s own gratification but in service to others (1 Peter 4:10).
Believers are not called to just sit in a church pew. Following Jesus Christ as Lord is a joyous adventure – and a journey of faith to share with people around us. As we give and serve others, God continually fills our lives with His love and with the fruit of the Spirit. Becoming involved in a local church says, “I want to be more than a stagnant pond! I want to be a flowing river of God’s grace by ministering and sharing with others.”
5. To Grow and Mature Personally:
In Ephesians 4, Paul shares a very practical model for personal growth and maturing. In short, he teaches that the key to personal growth is to be functioning as a member of the Body of Christ – the Church! Christians do not mature in isolation. Members of Christ’s Body contribute to the growth of each other. Only when each member of the Body is functioning does personal and corporate growth occur. You can never become the person which God desires you to become without being related to other Christians within Christ’s Church.
6. To Fellowship:
Koinonia or “fellowship” is one of the exciting benefits of Christian discipleship. In fact, we read in Acts 2:42 that Koinonia was a priority in the early Church. Koinonia means the sharing of life and encouraging other believers (Hebrews 10:24-25). All things become common. This in-depth relationship is very difficult to enjoy without being an active member of the local Body. Unfortunately, people often feel like “outsiders” looking in at Koinonia rather than “insiders” and “participants” enjoying this deep communion with the saints. God wants all of His disciples to enjoy the wonderful gift of Koinonia.
7. To Be Responsible and Accountable:
Ultimate fulfillment in the Christian life does not come without responsibility and accountability. All of us need Christian brothers and sisters – not only for fellowship but for accountability. The Scripture declares that we should be subject to one another (1 Peter 5:5). Life becomes most meaningful when we are accountable to a group of fellow Christians who love and want God’s best for one another. This should be one of the great joys of church membership!