To many Christians church membership means they have found Christ as Savior, their sins are forgiven, and there is peace in their souls. As Christians they have obeyed the Lord’s command to them to follow Him in baptism, united with His church, and have found great happiness in this new relationship. Many members, however, live for many years without ever seeming to learn the real meaning of membership. This should never be. Every member should know the seriousness and sacredness of church membership.
It is also surprising that so many hold membership without realizing their privileges and opportunities or on the other hand accepting their obligations. We believe they have neither been brought face to face with the real meaning of church membership nor have they had its various aspects laid on their hearts. In this article and throughout this handbook, we seek to set forth some of these things.
The church of the Lord Jesus Christ is the greatest institution that the world has ever known. Christ established it during His personal ministry and is its Head (Matt. 16:18; Eph. 5:23; Col. 1:18). He promised that He would be with it through the ages and that the gates of hell should not prevail against it (Matt. 16:18; Matt. 28:20). To it He gave the commission and the ordinances and for it He went to the cross (Matt. 28:19-20; I Cor. 11:23-26; Eph. 5:25). He loved the church and wants His churches to honor and glorify Him as His representatives on the earth (Eph. 5:25-27; Eph. 3:21).
The Lord’s churches have the greatest task ever assigned to any individual or group in the world’s history, the task of carrying the glorious gospel of Christ the Savior to every nation and tongue. No other commission like that has ever been given or will ever be given!
We see then that we have a great privilege in being members of Baptist churches. They are churches with a glorious beginning, a blood-written history, an illustrious present and a future as bright as the promises of God. They are churches that have held true to God’s Word through persecution and tribulation and whose members have numbered among the faithful. Truly, it is a privilege to be a member of a Baptist church!
Membership also brings us great opportunity; an opportunity for fellowship in the finest fellowship that can be found; an opportunity for Christian growth and development and training through the various departments of the church organization; an opportunity for Christian service through the work of the church in its program of service in the name of Christ to those at home and around the earth. Where else can we find such opportunity to live for God and our fellow men?
Membership places upon us inescapable obligation: an obligation to make the church and its work first in our lives; an obligation to use our time and our talents for the glory of God; an obligation to support the work with our presence, our talents, our influence and our means. A membership of worldly, careless, negligent, stunted Christians will prevent a church from accomplishing much for the Lord. The need is for every member to be consecrated, trained and enlisted in active service. We are under obligation to be the very best members possible under the leading of the Lord.
We see then that membership is a privilege and an opportunity and entails great obligations. Too many members have not learned these things and their church means little to them and they mean little to their church! Statistics showed that sixty per cent of the members of the average church are unenlisted. That condition must be changed. Won’t you help change it by making your membership really count for Christ?.