July 28, 2022
Why Church Membership?
Elder Letter by Mike Laughrun
Question: What has most impacted, shaped, strengthened your life as a Jesus follower over the past few years? For me, without question it has been the gift, blessing, responsibility, and challenges of belonging to a local congregation of believers.
As an engaged member of a local church we are loved and we learn to love. We learn to forgive and be forgiven. We are built up in Christ and invest in building others up. We grow under the consistent weekly teaching and preaching of God’s Word. We learn to submit to the God-ordained leadership while experiencing the protection, care, oversight of God ordained pastors. We serve and are served by the gifts of the body. We are admonished and learn to admonish others for the sake of growth in godliness. In the local church I’ve been challenged with others to “put off” the old self and pursue the holiness of Christ-likeness. In a community of believers, we give our lives to the mission of making disciples personally, locally, and globally.
Charles Spurgeon said this regarding local church membership, ” If I had never joined a church till I had found one that was perfect, I should never have joined one at all; and the moment I did join it, I should have spoiled it. Still, imperfect as it is, it is the dearest place on earth.”
I love what Spurgeon said there, but even more we need to be reminded for our own sake and the sake of others in our lives what Scripture teaches us about why local church membershp matters:
The example of the early church
So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. – Acts 2:41-42
We see commitment to one another and submission to one another. Each person clearly knew who was part of that local family and who was not.
The New Testament knows no Christians floating around in “just me and Jesus” land. Believers belong to churches.
- Kevin Deyoung
The leadership of church elders
shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; (3) not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. – 1 Peter 5:2-3
God appointed elders to lead local churches to Lead, Feed and Care and protect the sheep. When identified with a local church, there is Pastoral leadership, care, nourishment and protection. It is a dangerous pace to be outside the protection of a local church and God ordained pastors.
The responsibility of church discipline
And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. – 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15
In the local church, there is admonishment, correction, and discipline of their own vital to our growth in Christlikeness. Apart from that, everyone is left to do what is right in their own eyes…
The expectation of mutual edification
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. – Ephesians 4:15-16
“When we join a church we are offering ourselves to one another to be encouraged, rebuked, corrected, and served. We are placing ourselves under leaders and submitting to their authority. We are saying, ‘I am here to stay. I want to help you grow in godliness. Will you help me to do the same?’” – Kevin DeYoung
The advancement of the great commission
For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything. – 1 Thessalonians 1:8
The local church God’s primary agency for advancing the great commission and declaring His glory among all nations.
In an age when local church membership is seen as a good option by some and unessary by others, God’s Word calls us to fully engage in the life of a local body for our own good, for the sake of others, and ultimately for His glory.
Grateful for my church family,
Elder / Teaching Pastor
Mike Laughrun has served as Lead Pastor at Tri-Cities Baptist Church since January of 2011. He and his wife Jennifer have been married since 1995 and have five children.