Currently, on Sunday evenings we are teaching through a series of messages titled “Growing into the Church.” The messages lay the groundwork for church membership. We plan to constitute our initial membership the week before Easter.
When people talk about church membership some natural objections are raised. Can’t you be a Christian without being a member of a church? Where is church membership taught in the Bible? If I covenant in membership at Redeemer Church does that mean a bunch of people are going to get into my business?! Is the pastor going to look down on me if I don’t join? We value membership at Redeemer Church so I want to answer some of these concerns.
Yes, someone can be converted and enter heaven when they pass away without ever having officially joined a church. However, when you become a Christian God makes you a member of the universal Church. This should be a beautiful reality for you. When you belief in the death and resurrection of Jesus as an atonement for you sins, you become part of a world wide family of believers. But let’s be very clear about an important point, when we read about the Christians in the New Testament, we never see people who are part of the universal Church living disconnected from their local tangible church. You can get into heaven without joining a local body of believers, but you can’t live a daily biblical spirituality disconnected from a local church.
Archeologists have never uncovered a church membership roll from the first century, but the Bible keeps a record of those who are part of the people of God and those who are not. There is a sense that the leaders know who is “in” and who is “out.” Throughout the Old Testament we see a written record of who is part of the people of God. In Acts we see that 3,000 people were converted at Peter’s sermon then live together in missional community as the first church. These 3,000 people were part of the first church, the other thousands of people in Jerusalem in those days were not part of the first church. Further, the first deacons were appointed to minister to the widows who were part of that initial church. They knew the widows who were part of the the church, and therefore they knew widows who were not part of their church. In Acts, the Apostles knew who were part of the church and thus they had certain expectations upon them.
If you join Redeemer Church we will get into your life and we want you to get into our lives. Let’s be clear, no one is going to ask for you bank statement to ensure you are tithing…we aren’t a cult?! But, we will call you to regularly worship with us, live in community through our small groups, participate in service with us, tithe to Redeemer Church so that we can spread the gospel around the world, and find a spot within our church to serve (especially with the next generation), and attend Members Meetings in order to appoint officers and approve the annual budget. As you live that lifestyle, we want you to be known as well as know others.
We are going to constitute our first Members the week before Easter, but some of you might not feel led to join at that time. We pray that you would, but you might need more time to know us before you make that spiritual commitment. Josh and I don’t want you to feel condemned if you don’t join us, but we do want to keep membership in front of you as an important part of your spiritual journey.
Acts 2:44 describes the first church as “all who believed were together.” We strongly believe that God has designed us to live together, that we are better together, and thus we want to consistently invite you to walk together with us.