“What’s your pastor’s name?” He asked from the back seat of the car. To which I answered with the name of the pastor I had since jr. high. However, at this time I was sitting 6000 miles away from my sending fellowship as a missionary on the field. “Ha”, he said, “see you are a member of that church, not the house church you attend here.”
While this certainly was a trick question, it got me thinking a lot about membership in a local church, especially for missionaries who are thousands of miles away from their sending fellowship. It is not just a question of “whose your pastor?” but also one of authority, performing the “one anothers”, being in community, keeping a covenant, accountability, church discipline and a myriad of other pertinent questions.
That is why I am thankful for this article from 9marks. With the help of this article, and others like it, I’ve since come to a firm conviction on the subject. But I’ll let the article speak in my stead.
In the Bible, the church’s authority over its members means a community of Christians provides ongoing affirmation that each Christian’s life agrees with their confession to follow Jesus Christ as Lord. In other words, church membership is a covenant of love and union that includes a Christian community’s ongoing assessment of a Christian’s way of life. Membership also includes a mutual promise of oversight on the part of the community and submissive involvement on the part of the Christian.
Click the paragraph to keep reading.