I believe in church membership. I believe it is vital for the discipleship of every Christian to be rooted, planted, and covenant together with a local church body.
Every time I meet another Christian I ask, “Of what church are you a part?” I don’t ask, “Where do you attend?” or “What church do you go to?” because living out a growing Christian life is about so much more than loose adherence to a local church body. As Christians we are “members” of the body. The local church is a microcosm of the universal Church. Local church membership matters.
One of my favorite short books on church membership is What is a Healthy Church Member? by Thabiti Anyabwile. Here is a basic summary of the 10 attributes the author brings out, accompanied by quotes and observations.
A healthy church member is…
1) An expositional listener
“Expositional preaching is that preaching which takes for the main point of a sermon the point of a particular passage of Scripture. Expositional listening gives us a clear ear with which to hear God. It helps us to focus on God’s will and to follow Him. Expositional listening protects the gospel and our lives from corruption. It encourages faithful pastors. It benefits the gathered congregation.”
2) A biblical theologian
“To practice biblical theology is to know God himself…the church member who is serious about knowing God is the member who is committed to what the Bible says about God, because the Bible is where God tells us about himself.”
3) Gospel saturated
“The first order of business is to know the gospel.” Timothy Keller sums up the gospel this way: “You’re a sinner saved by Jesus’ work, not by your own work.” “It sometimes appears as though some Christians believe the gospel was meant to be preached widely until it reached them and then stored safely in the vault of their personal history, away from everyone else.”
4) Genuinely converted
“The healthy church member—the true church member—must know the work of God’s grace in his or her own soul.”
5) A biblical evangelist
A biblical evangelist is genuinely converted and calls others to the true gospel.
6) A committed member
“The local church is the place where love is most visibly and compellingly displayed among God’s people. It’s where the “body of Christ” is most plainly represented in the world.”
7) Seeks discipline
“Not only do healthy church members accept the Lord’s chastisement, but they humbly accept correction from others.”
8) A growing disciple
“We’re far too vulnerable to settling for being thought of as mature rather than actually being mature.”
9) A humble follower
This chapter talks about the healthy church member’s attitude toward leadership within the church.
10) A prayer warrior
“The how and when of prayer boil down to two biblical teachings: pray constantly and pray in the Spirit.”
This is a great little book, well worth the read.