A Series on Church Membership
Mark Dever, a Baptist pastor and author, has said in his book, Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, “The responsibilities and duties of members of a Christian church are simply the responsibilities and duties of Christians. Church members, like Christians, are to be baptized and to regularly attend the Lord’s Table. We are to hear God’s Word and to obey it. We are to regularly fellowship together for mutual edification. We are to love God, one another, and those outside our fellowship, and we are to evidence the fruit of the Spirit” (159). Dever is correct, here, to assert that the Christian life is a going-to-church life.
Christian people are those who gather with like-minded believers to learn from the Lord, worship the Lord, and encourage one another toward faith in the Lord. This is what it means to be a Christian. We cannot be like a man on the moon or a wanderer on an island.
I know. I know. The American culture has told us from the time that we were tots that we should be independent, self-sufficient, and go-get-our-own. As the young folks say today, “I’m gonna do me.” Yet, this is in no way a biblical principle. Sure, we should be hard workers and support ourselves and our families as we earn a living, and we shouldn’t depend on others for everything. However, Christians are to lean on the Lord and rely on one another. As the Scripture says, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteems others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil 2:3-4).
To do these things, we must be together. We must see one another. The most important and, at the same time, most basic requirement for church membership is attending gatherings on the Lord’s Day. Why is the Church in America struggling? There may be several reasons, but I would argue that one major problem is that we do not even meet together on a regular basis anymore. When we get together, we get to know one another, we can make lifelong friends, we can support others, and, in turn, we can be supported by others.