I am sure we have all heard at some point in our lives that individual who says, “You don’t need to be a member of a church to be a Christian”, to which I would say, I agree. Church membership doesn’t make you a believer but if you are a believer there should be no reason why you don’t desire to be.
Maybe you have heard other statements as to why an individual says they don’t need to be or want to be a member of or attend a local church. Statements like this one, “I don’t go to church because it’s full of hypocrites”, to which I would say of course there are hypocrites in churches, doesn’t change the fact that we are still told not to forsake the gathering together with the body of believers as the church in local bodies.
This idea that you don’t desire to go to church because of hypocrites, let me ask you, do you go to work, school, shopping, etc. because anywhere you go you will run into hypocrites. Not to mention that we are all sinners in need of Christ even after we become a believer we are still growing and the process in one person’s life may not be exactly like your experience in growth. Which is one reason why being a member of a local church is so important, to be able to minister to others, to come alongside a newer believer and disciple them, assist them in their growth.
Another argument is that the church is the people and not a building, which I also agree. However, we meet somewhere and when we gather together as the body of Christ in a local church guess what…. It’s usually in a building unless you are meeting outside or in a cave because where the saints are gathered together to sit under the preaching of the Word of God and to take part in the means of grace that is the church. While we understand and know it’s not the building let’s not lose focus or sight of what is important here. Church membership, belonging to a local body being committed to the local church and serving one another to the glory of God.
Here is an example of a post that I put on my Facebook wall about being a member.
If you preach on Facebook or on the streets and aren't a member of a local church or desire to be in one..... just repent!
Repent and believe in Christ and be saved!!!
Repent and believe Gods word about His church and be obedient!!!
Now let me speak on what I posted to be clear to those who may have misunderstood what I said and taken it as saying I was adding church membership as a requirement for salvation.
Ephesians 2:8-9 says, (8) For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, (9) not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Salvation is a gift of God not of works, we are not saved by baptism, by keeping the commandments, or by church membership. Those who are saved are saved by Grace through Faith in Jesus, who died on the cross, was buried and on the third day rose from the grave.
This post came about do to interactions with individuals some on Facebook and others whom I have ran into on the streets who call themselves “street preachers” but do not belong to a local church nor do they desire to be a part of a local church.
To which I will say as I have stated above if you are not a member nor do you desire to be one repent, some of those individuals whom I have interacted with need salvation and others just need to obey.
In another Facebook post I said this trying to be even more clear on the matter.
If you are not a member of a local Church or desire to be one. It's only a matter of time before you fall away from the faith (proving to not be a believer to begin with) or into damnable heresies (proving to be a false believer or teacher).
To disconnect yourself from a local body of Christ and have no desire whatsoever to get connected is to disconnect yourself from the one who gives eternal life which is Jesus Christ.
Which again I stand by this statement, time and time I have seen individuals who had no desire to connect with and be a member of a local church and they have fell away from the faith, no longer attending church anywhere and sadly many even walking away from the faith they once held on to. The other issue that myself and many others can attest to is how those who have no desire to be a member of a local church become a law unto themselves, they set themselves up as the authority and have no one to help them and keep them from doctrinal errors, and I am not talking about secondary doctrines like eschatology or of the like but on serious issues that if one continues to hold to are damnable heresies.
You see the dangers are there when you are not connected to a local church. Now don’t hear me wrongly, God is the one who saves and if anyone leaves the faith or begins to teach damnable heresies it is clear they never were a believer to begin with as stated in 1 John 2:19 which says, They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.
Christ is the head of the church and to separate yourself from the local church is have absolutely no desire to be connected is to only expose that you aren’t connected to Christ.
Finally, my last post on the local church.
Local Church Membership- What a joy, what a blessing to be a part of a local body of believers and to use the gifts for which God has given you to minister to others and to be ministered to.
Don't forsake the gathering together with a local church.
Remember there is no perfect church... but Christ died for His church so be committed be obedient and be a member of a local church.
Don't be like the guy or girl who wants to stay in a relationship but refuses to commit to one another in marriage.
To be a member of a local church where the Word of God is preached is a joy and a blessing, and to use the gifts that God has given us believers to minister to others and to be ministered to, what a picture of love and grace and compassion for the body of Christ displayed through the gathering together of local churches.
Some want to argue over the fact they don’t believe a church is doing everything the way they want it to be done. Maybe they don’t have a certain ministry that they believe the church should have or they don’t have every theological position that you do, regardless of the excuses used by people to disconnect themselves from being a member of a local church is just that, an excuse!
As with the analogy that I gave in the above Facebook post, don’t be like that person who wants to be in a relationship with someone but never wants to make the commitment to marry. Christ is married to the Church! The Church is the bride of Christ and when we have no desire to be connected through a local church essentially what we are saying is I want the benefits of a relationship without the commitment.
Now let’s look at the importance of the local church.
Hebrews 10:25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Now this verse obviously comes up and is used to encourage believers to meet together and not to forsake it. And if we look at this verse which comes after verse 24 we might get some understanding.
Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,
Stir up one another to love and good works, this verse assumes that we would know one another. I am connected to the saints all over the world unity in Christ, but I don’t know their struggles personally or areas where they need to grow in love and good works. However, being a member of a local church, I will be able to serve alongside other believers and get to know them and be able to do exactly what this verse is saying to do.
1 Peter 5:1-2 (1) So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: (2) shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly;
How? That would be my question to you, how does one shepherd the flock of God that is among you and exercising oversight over the flock if there are no local churches?? If someone just comes in for a little while and then moves to another church and another church, or just comes and sits at a church but never becomes a member just attends, not making a commitment to the local church, the leaders or the others within the church. Personally, I don’t even see why this is something we should have to defend, as if it is not clear enough in scriptures.
Hebrews 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
Here is another scripture speaking about the elders but notice whose benefit it is for….YOURS! It is for your advantage to submit to your elders. Now I know, the first objection will be in everything submit, what if they are abusing their position. I understand that and the scripture speaks about that as well.
1 Peter 5:3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.
If someone is abusing the authority as an Elder that’s a problem and should be addressed because as stated above they are not to lord their position over the flock but to be an example to them.
Now if they are ruling well, here is what God’s Word has to say.
1 Timothy 5:17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.
How are they to rule if they don’t have a local church gathering of committed saints, how are they to receive double honor, if there is no local church then how do you know if the preacher in the next town or city or state should receive double honor.
Its honestly pretty easy to see that God establishes local churches to which He gives gifts.
Ephesians 4:11-14 (11) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, (12) to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, (13) until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, (14) so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
For the purpose of equipping the saints so that we are not tossed to and fro carried away by every wind of doctrine, which was my point in the one above Facebook post, to disconnect yourself from the local church where you do not have an elder to lead you and other members evangelists and teachers and church members to help you grow to mature manhood or womanhood then you are setting yourself up to be carried away, either from the faith you claim to believe or into every wind of false teaching that is out there.
So, don’t be deceived by those who run around claiming to be believers but have no desire to be a member of a local church and spend more time arguing against local church membership rather than repenting becoming a member of a local church and submitting to the elders in order to be ministered to and to use their gifts to minister to other saints within the body of their local church.
To God be the Glory!
By Ricky Gantz