“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” (Phil.1:3-5)
“…standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.” (Phil.1:27)
Why Become A Member Of A Church?
Making a commitment to a local church is much like getting married. In both cases, people enter into a covenant. Admittedly, the covenant of marriage is more serious and more intense than a covenant members make with each other, but it is a form of covenant, nonetheless. When believers join a particular local church, they are committing themselves to the people, leaders, and mission of that church. Like marriage, that commitment is “for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health.” In other words, the kind of commitment the Lord wants believers to make to a local church is not conditioned on how much others are doing for us or how much we are “getting fed.” Rather, it is like the commitment we make in marriage, to love and care for and serve the other person, regardless of what the other person does for us.
Sounds really risky, doesn’t it? Why then, would anyone ever make a commitment like that to a local church? The reason is because we can’t really live out New Testament Christianity without doing so. Let me exlain.
1. We Join A Church To Obey The One-Another Commands
There are 59 verses in the New Testament in which believers are commanded to do or not to do something for other believers.
We are commanded to be devoted to one another; give preference to one another; be of the same mind toward one another; love one another; build up one another; accept one another; admonish one another; greet one another; have the same care for one another; serve one another; show tolerance for one another; be kind to one another; be subject to one another; regard one another as more important than yourselves; bear with one another; forgive one another; comfort one another; encourage one another; live in peace with one another; seek after that which is good for one another; stimulate one another to love and good deeds; confess your sins to one another; pray for one another; be hospitable to one another without complaint; employ your spiritual gifts in serving one another; clothe yourselves with humility toward one another; do not judge one another; let us not envy one another; let us not challenge one another; do not lie to one another; do not speak against one another; do not complain against one another; and teach and admonish one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.
We need to remember that those are not God’s suggestions; they are His simple, clear, and direct commands! Now, the reason I say you need to join a church is because it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to obey those commands without a true and real commitment to a specific group of Christians. We are told to “admonish, show tolerance, be subject to, bear with, forgive, live in peace with” one another. All of these commands imply that sometimes it will be very difficult to be a vital part of a local church. We will be tempted to leave when the going gets tough. There will probably be times when nothing but the fact that you committed yourself to those believers in the sight of God will keep you there, obeying God’s Word.
2. We Join A Church To Submit to the Leaders God Has Placed in our Lives
Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.” However, how are you going to obey this command unless you have made a commitment to a specific local church. How will you decide which Christian leaders you are going to obey and submit to? If you simply “float” around from church to church, will you try to submit to and obey all of the various pastors you visit from time to time? Will you try to obey and submit to all the Christian leaders in your city? Of course the suggestion is absurd. We need to join a local church, so that we have God-ordained leaders who will watch over our souls, and to whom we can obey and submit.
3. We Join A Church To Restore Those Who Fall Into Sin
Matthew 18:15-17 says, “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”
At the third stage of church discipline, when an unrepentant member will not listen to one person, or 2 or 3 people who seek to reprove him, we must “tell it to the church.” However, if there is no membership in a local church, who do we tell it to? Do we just tell it to anyone who happens to attend that church? If we do so, we will be involving unregenerate people in a very difficult process that even born again believers very difficult to work through. When Jesus told us to “tell it to the church” He must have envisioned each church somehow knowing who constituted that local church.
We need to join a church, because it is our responsibility to look out for and restore others who fall into sin.
4. We Join A Church To Follow the Example of the Early Church
In Acts 2 we have a wonderful example of the early Christians following the day of Pentecost. Acts 2:41-42 says, “So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Notice the order of four different activities of these early believers: they repented and “received the word”; they were baptized, they were added to the church, and they continually devoted themselves to the breaking of bread.
We bring all kinds of chaos and confusion into the local church when we don’t follow this example. We have people who are added to the church without repenting. We have people taking the Lord’s Supper without being baptized. Believers need to be “added” to the church after they have been converted, and evidence that conversion by obeying Christ in baptism. We need to join a church in order to follow the example we find in Scripture.
5. We Join A Church For Our Own Spiritual Protection
There is one thing that should make us tremble, and that is the prospect of being overtaken by sin. Even though we might forsake sin for a season, if we end up going back to and living in sin, the Bible says we will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-11). If sin characterizes the life of a professing Christian, it may very well indicate that the profession of faith is false (Titus 1:16; 1 John 2:3-4). Hebrews 3:12-13 tells us to beware of an evil, unbelieving heart in falling away from the living God. Further, we must exhort one another day after day lest any of us be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Not only that, but Satan is like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour (1 Pet. 5:8). The dangers of the world, our flesh, and the devil abound. We need one another in the body of Christ to continue walking the narrow path that leads to life!
In another place Paul says, “Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted” (Gal. 6:1). Paul is describing a rescue mission. One of our soldiers has been shot behind enemy lines, and the rest of his comrades must courageously pull him to safety. They are not to deal in harsh rebukes, but gently pull him to safety, knowing that they too could be shot down by the same sniper.
John Piper is noted for saying, “Eternal security is a community project.” We need to join a local church, because we need one another for our own spiritual protection.
How Do You Become A Member At The Bridge?
Please take the time to get to know us, our beliefs, and values. In order to do that, please read the following documents:
Once you have read these documents, and are still interested in joining The Bridge, complete the Bridge Application for Membership, and give it to a Pastor. He will meet with you so that you can ask any questions you may have, and he can review with you the information on your Application for Membership.
We realize that you may not fully agree with all of our beliefs and convictions. We do not require that members adhere to them in every detail, but just that they pursue unity in these areas while maintaining a humble and teachable spirit as all seek to “attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God.”
If the Pastor and congregation affirm your profession of faith, we will invite you to make your commitment official by signing our Bridge Membership Commitment form. At that point, you will be publicly recognized as a member of The Bridge Church.