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Church Membership, Part 4

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When it comes to church membership, we’ve talked about the biblical basis, wrong reasons and some right reasons. For this final blog, I want to consider reasons to join a particular church. What should one look for? Here are some questions you might ponder.

Am I in significant agreement with this church’s core teachings? Christians struggle over secondary doctrines. We rarely line up on everything. But, if you are joining a church you should look at its doctrinal beliefs and distinctives and be sure that you are in significant agreement. Two cannot walk together if they are not agreed.

Do I see the marks of a true church in this congregation? We’ve considered these in a prior blog post, but we mean matters like expositional preaching, a proper understanding of the gospel and what conversion entails, a right practice of the ordinances and of course, church discipline. The church is functioning as a church, not just a worship gathering. Is this church based on any cult of personality?

Are there any warning flags like gimmicks, fluff or extreme showiness? As there are signs of church health, there are signs of problems. A healthy church can survive through many trials because they are founded on the Word of God and have a good leadership and accountability structure. A church that looks based on one man or a huge building or budge is a recipe for failure.

Will there be fruitful labor for me there? Are there ways for me to connect to this church and use my God-given gifts to serve? Does this church seek people to bolster their attendance figures or would you be able to be involved and useful in Christ’s kingdom? The church is a body, and every part of the body has gifts of service to give. Would yours be put to use?

Am I able to commit to a church of this particular size with the range of ministries that they can offer? We tend toward self-centered decision making. That’s not ideal. But, when you, as an example, commit to a small church, you may not have the youth ministry or college ministry or singles’ ministry that you feel your family needs. Be honest enough to say a full yes to what you’re committing to, or if you cannot live within that, don’t take the plunge. It’s not fair to anyone.

Am I prepared to make a genuine commitment? Ask yourself if you are ready to make a commitment. When we unite with a congregation we are identifying with the body of Christ in that local expression. We’ve argued that this is important for every genuine follower of Christ. But it is a large commitment not to be taken lightly. Do I know the church? Am I ready for that?

Is there anything in my life that would bring dishonor to this body of believers and thus the name of Christ? The local church is that place where you are affirmed as a believer in Jesus Christ--a repentant, believing sinner saved by grace. We ought not join ourselves to a church if we are hiding significant unrepentant sin that would be suddenly discovered and then bring shame to the church and the name of Christ. If there were something like that you would want to disclose it before you made that commitment.