A building has bricks. A flock has sheep. A vine has branches. A body has members. Being a Christian means being joined to a church. Christianity is a team sport. Every team has a roster to know who is in and who is not. Members have privileges and responsibilities. The group has leaders who have charge over our growth.
Why Join a Church? The church is not just any social club. The church is a battleship, not a cruise ship. The church has eternal goals. Basically, the church exists for those who are not yet members.
The Embassy of Jesus: An embassy represents the king or president or people of another country. When people see us, we represent the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 16:13-20, 18:15-18, 19). The church has authority. One way for Christians to submit to the authority of Jesus is to submit to the authority of the church. When you are drafted in the NFL, you report to the new coach and receive the team’s playbook and jersey. You are not identifying as being on this new team.
- All those who believed were baptized into the church (Acts 2:37-41).
- It is assumed that every member is going to participate in a local church (1 Corinthians 5:9-13, Ephesians 2:19),
- It is assumed that members will submit to their leadership (Hebrews 13:17).
- It is assumed that members will submit to the church, not just join the church.
More Than a Name on a List: Many people don’t think much about church membership because they assume it is just your name on a list.
- Membership defines the church: every team has a roster to know who is in and who is not (1 Corinthians 5:9-13). Some people are on the outside and we don’t expect that person to live for Christ. Membership carries implications that members will change their behavior. Membership defines the boundaries of the church, who is in and who is not.
- Membership defines the Christian life: Don’t give up meeting together (Hebrews 10:24-25, Colossians 3:12-17). Never forget the “one another” passages; they cannot be done outside of the community. To have the greatest impact, there must be close proximity.
- Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness: these are promises for now and for eternity (1 Timothy 4:7-8, 1 Corinthians 15:10).
- God disciplines us for our good: that we might share his holiness (Hebrews 12:3-11). Discipline may be hard in the moment but pays off in the end.
Run Well, Stay on Track, Get Back on Your Feet: we discipline ourselves when training for an event, or learn to do something the right way. We must exercise to behave like a follower of Jesus.
- Help each other run well (Ephesians 4:11-13, 15-16)
- Help each other stay on track (Hebrews 3:12-13) don’t make the wrong turn (this is preventative discipline).
- Help each other get back on your feet (Galatians 6:1-5).
- The goal is to finish well (2 Timothy 4:6-8, Hebrews 12:1-2).
Dealing With Sin in the Church: what do we do with someone who claims to be in the church yet lives as though they don’t know God?
- Jesus’ instructions (Matthew 18:15-17). This is regarding sin against ourselves. The goal of this process is to bring repentance and restoration. When someone repents and asks for forgiveness, case closed (Ephesians 4:25). Other apostles carrying out the teaching of Jesus…
- Paul’s experience in Corinth with a sinning man (1 Corinthians 5:6-7) to exclude him from the fellowship.
- Paul commands us to warn a divisive person many times and then have nothing to do with him (Titus 3:10-11).
- John warns about having any fellowship with those who teach a false gospel (2 John 10-11).
- What about elders who persist in sin (1 Timothy 5:20)?
- The goal of discipline is repentance and restoration, not punishment (2 Corinthians 2:5-8).