What is church membership?
Church membership is the outward demonstration of one’s inner commitment to identify with Christ and His followers, be taught the Scriptures, submit to God’s ordained authority structure, selflessly serve other believers, and grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ together.
Biblical basis for church membership
A. Evidence that the early church had some form of “membership”
1. Numbers were known
Acts 1:15 -- 120
Acts 2:41 – added 3,000
Acts 4:4 – 5,000
2. Rolls were kept
1 Timothy 5:9 “Widows indeed” were recognized members of the congregation whose needs were known and whose names were put on a special care list.
3. Servants were chosen by the congregation
Acts 6:2-5 the apostles instructed the believers in Jerusalem to “select from among you” seven men to serve the people. “From among you” indicates that some kind of “whose in” and “whose out” lists were maintained. At the very minimum, there was an understanding that believers identified themselves with other believers in some formal way.
4. Discipline was practiced
1 Corinthians 5:12-13 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.
Again, the phrase “from among” indicates that the local congregation at Corinth knew who was a part of the church.
5. Worship was corporate
1 Corinthians 14:23 If therefore the whole church should assemble together…
NOTE: The modern day trend among some homeschoolers to “home church” is completely unbiblical and antibiblical. The early church may have met in homes, but they did not “home church.”
6. Pastors/shepherds must give an account for their flock
Hebrews 13:17 Obey your leaders, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account.
QUESTION: How can pastors keep watch over their flock and stand before God to give an account for the flock that God entrusted to their care if they do not have a means by which to know who is in the flock and who is outside the flock?