Does Membership Matter in a Local Church?

Of course it does. Just ask a couple wanting to get married. Ask a family that needs a place to have a funeral service. Ask the father and mother that want to celebrate their child’s birthday. Ask a politician seeking credibility with their constituency. As is said, membership has its’ privileges. People often treat the church like a country club or a community center seeking what they can get out of it. From a biblical perspective, though, we agree that membership matters.  The reasons are different but it matters. The question then is, what are the requirements to be a member of a local church and to maintain that membership? The answers are more important than most think. Without a clear understanding of what membership means, there is at best ambiguity in the church and at worse chaos regarding the responsibility to encourage, exhort, teach, reprove, correct, and discipline. As I have recently experienced, the seemingly simple task of creating a church directory sparks all types of debate regarding membership.

In these times of mega-churches and the competition for larger membership numbers, a church must be willing to set aside tradition and/or popularity and submit to the Scriptures for guidance in the determination of church membership. It is not an easy task.  Any time we submit to God’s Word it humbles us and honors the Lord. Pisgah Baptist Church in Excelsior Springs, MO is taking that step. Doug Richey, the pastor, writes on his blog about the process.  Once the qualifications for church membership were determined, it became necessary to remove names from the church rolls.  He writes an answer to the question “What is gained by removing members from church rolls?” The question once answered begs the last question, “What is it that you gain by not taking biblically faithful steps in dealing with non-participatory membership?”

What would you say?