Is church membership biblical?

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Re: Is church membership biblical?

Post by SamIam » Thu Sep 01, 2011 1:56 pm

I find that I learn much more by fellowshipping with Christians in more than one group.
Of course you can do what you want to do ... but remember that "fellowshipping" involves more than just what you are learning. It also involves what you are teaching (or serving, or helping) others. Giving of yourself is difficult if you don't settle down and spend time with the same people.
I do not "church hop" because of personal preference, but because I feel called to engage other parts of the body of Christ and encourage believers in those congregations.
This is not an accusation of anything ... but what if while engaging some part of the body of Christ, you are shown that you need to repent of something? What keeps one from simply church-hopping to a more comfortable place?

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Re: Is church membership biblical?

Post by RICHinCHRIST » Thu Sep 01, 2011 10:04 pm

SamIam wrote:Of course you can do what you want to do ... but remember that "fellowshipping" involves more than just what you are learning. It also involves what you are teaching (or serving, or helping) others. Giving of yourself is difficult if you don't settle down and spend time with the same people.
I mentioned that I think it is beneficial to be committed to wherever you fellowship. I'm committed to fellowshipping, but I'm committed to more than one group. Why must I only commit to one group? I agree with you that fellowship is more than just one-way. It's not just about what I'm receiving. I mentioned that I go to different churches in order to encourage other Christians, either with my gifts or just in my relations with them. I do serve in different capacities in the meetings I attend and I try to develop relationships with people. Unfortunately, I wish I would receive much more than I do. There are some Christians I meet in church who do not seem very excited to discuss the things of God, or to mutually encourage one another. I have found a small remnant in each group that does, and I tend to gravitate more towards them. But I also try to engage those who don't seem like they are really communing with other people as much.

Regarding whether it is difficult or not to give of yourself if you attend more than one meeting... I will agree. It is difficult. But I try to do it anyway. I feel as though it keeps me on my toes to make sure I am redeeming the time I do spend with different groups. If I'm always in the same group, at least I noticed in the past, that I began to get lazy and stopped seeking persistently for true genuine fellowship. Perhaps that was my own fault, but when I was committed to one group, I began to realize that since we knew each other so well, we gradually stopped talking about the things of God and started gravitating toward futile conversations quite often. I began to realize that a lot of the relationships I had worked so hard on were not continuing to develop but were degrading. Perhaps this was due to my own disillusionment or pride or perhaps it was confirmation that God was calling me elsewhere... but ever since it has made me try to remain diverse in my Christian relationships, and make sure that our relationships center in on God rather than in whatever other things might get in the way. I'm not saying that I can never have fun with someone or just talk about something that is not spiritual in nature, but I am careful that I don't forget why I am fellowshipping: for the edification of the body of Christ.. not just to be a part of a Christian club.
SamIam wrote:This is not an accusation of anything ... but what if while engaging some part of the body of Christ, you are shown that you need to repent of something? What keeps one from simply church-hopping to a more comfortable place?
If it's shown to me that I need to repent of something, then I hope to repent of it. I don't see what you mean. There are things that are shown to me daily that I need to repent of outside of church meetings. If someone is just going from church to church to escape the conviction of the Holy Spirit, why are they even a Christian at all? I daily ask God to search my heart and show me any wicked way in me, that He might lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24). If someone is trying to escape the conviction of the Holy Spirit, why would they go to a different church? Wouldn't they just stop going to church altogether? I'm sure there are some people who go to certain churches because they have 'itching ears' to hear a watered-down message. But this would seem to indicate something that is an issue in the person's relationship with God, not their relationship with His people and the fellowship we have in Him. Of course this would affect their relation to His people, but their real problem is with God, not His people.

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Re: Is church membership biblical?

Post by Troy » Fri Sep 02, 2011 7:33 pm

I think whether there is freedom to be Arminian or Open Theist and remain a member of any given Acts 29 church vs not speaking against is and supporting/affirming it varies from place to place. I have a close friend who actually changed his views recently, and he has a leadership position in the youth.

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Re: Is church membership biblical?

Post by simplesimon » Sat Apr 07, 2012 11:14 am

Troy I truly enjoyed your question and the honest reflection and study of your topic. Rich in Christ, I completely concur with everything you added to so thank you both sharing on this subject. It answered the question in mind quite strongly.

I am convinced that church membership is not necessary for leaders to know their followers. As was pointed out, whoever has the light of Christ, I will be subject to them.

I think the only reason church membership is a big deal is that it is about: who is going to pay to keep the lights on. The moment there is need to pay for a church salary, video, sound and lights equipment, new asphalt for the parking lot, upgraded pews, donuts!, membership is critically necessary.

I am all for the large congretional hall, but some of these places are over the top and then the cry is for the money to keep it running. It’s upsetting and confusing because there are usually so many ‘members’ in need and yet there is nothing left over in the tithe, or even slated(!), for giving to the body’s felt needs. I think this is a shame and travesty.

If the church mostly met in homes, then why would you need membership rolls? Maybe name tags… Wherever I fellowship, there is always food (!) and no one had to sign a list as the designated foodie. Even when they sign up, they sometimes forget or can’t (or is it just me?) and still someone else brings food! Amazing how the body works anyway. When people come to my home, they are free to come or leave with my blessing. I don’t own them, nor do I want to.

I don’t want to be bound when Jesus set me free. “Now therefore why test God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? Acts 15:10. (May be out of context but the sentiment is still applicable in my viewpoint.)

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Re: Is church membership biblical?

Post by Paidion » Sat Apr 07, 2012 3:57 pm

Troy, the apostolic church was organized with elders and deacons but there is no evidence at all that there was a membership roll. All clubs have membership rolls, and I fear that most modern churches are exactly that — clubs. If a local church has a membership roll, and a non-member meets with that church he is not one of the "in" people, and he is limited in his participation.

Those translations based upon Textus Receptus, render Acts 2:27b this way:

...the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:47 NKJV)

Does this not describe true church membership? No human adds them to a local church, but the LORD adds them to the only True Church!
There are many circles of fellowship who do not have membership rolls. Many of them have leaders to which those who gather with them submit. They have no more difficulty with lack of funds, than churches which have membership rolls — indeed, I know at least two who take in much MORE money that the denominational churches.
If a person is a member of the universal Church of Christ, then they are automatically accepted as members of these non-denominational non-membership-defining churches.

I used to meet with the so-called "Plymouth Brethren" (those known as "open brethren") who have no membership rolls. They will accept any believer at the "Lord's table." If a stranger enters a communion service, a couple of elders meet him at the door and ask him a few questions to try to determine whether he is a believer. If they think that he is, then he is invited to fully participate in the communion, and to share in the body ministry. If they feel he is not a believer, he is invited to sit in a pew at the back as an observer. The bread and wine are not passed to anyone in that pew — and neither is the collection bag.

More recently, we fellowshipped with a church of another circle of fellowship known by outsiders as "The North Battleford Group", but which they call "This Present Move of the Spirit." They also have no membership rolls and have body ministry. But, they don't question those who enter. If a stranger enters, and elder will probably mention that all believers are welcome to participate in the communion. However, they don't deal with strangers directly in regard to this.

Both these groups are heavily supported financially by those who gather with them.

The church which Christ founded is not divided into "denominations." The denominational concept has been invented by man. A true expression of Christ's Church meets in the name of Christ alone — not in the name of Luther, Wesley, or any other man.

Man judges a person by his past deeds, and administers penalties for his wrongdoing. God judges a person by his present character, and disciplines him that he may become righteous.

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