Meaningful Church Membership

Consider the following scenario:

Mr. Christian invites Mr. Unsaved Friend to come with him to church on Sunday. Mr. Unsaved Friend declines the offer. And what is his excuse?

Well, take your pick…

  • “That church is full of hypocrites.”
  • “I’m just as good as any one of those church members.”
  • “I’m already friends with about half of your members and they never go to church, why should I?”

And, to be fair, Mr. Unsaved Friend has a point. The Church in America has become so lax concerning church membership that our rolls are filled with marginal and absentee members — many of whom are likely unregenerate. This is a very real problem and it is our fault. Why? Because when a person comes forward during an invitation seeking membership we typically vote on them on-the-spot without ever giving consideration to a serious examination of their professed faith. We don’t have our elders examine them. We don’t insist they agree to our doctrinal statements. We don’t have them participate in a trial membership whereby they can be observed by the existing members for evidence of true faith. We just have a vote — which is nothing more than a mere formality — and then jot their name on our roll. Done.

We can now go tell our community that our church is growing.

And we wonder why Mr. Unsaved Friend sees hypocrites and worldliness in us. It’s because we’ve invited it in. All of this begs the question, can anything be done?

You bet it can.

The 9Marks website has a wonderful series of articles on this very topic — what I’d call the keys to meaningful church membership. It addresses a series of serious questions concerning church membership:

It goes on and on. I highly recommend these articles. They are challenging, necessary, and will make most of us quite uncomfortable as they hold our traditions and practices up against the light of Scripture.

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About Chip
Chip is a graduate of Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, AR and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis, TN. He served more than five years on the staff of the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana as Director of Communications and Public Relations, editor of the Indiana Baptist newsjournal, and regular contributor to the Baptist Press, the official news service of the Southern Baptist Convention. He currently earns his living as a writer. He serves his local church as a teacher and deacon and his local Baptist Association as a Seminary Extension instructor and supply preacher.

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