Three Reasons to Become a Member of Your Church
Are you a guest or a member? Why Membership Matters
In 1994, I was a senior in college and spent my last semester living in Spain as an exchange student. It was a challenging, but enriching experience. Now, you’ve got to realize this was in a time before mobile phones, internet, Facebook, ipads, and FaceTime. I was in Europe for four months, and during that time, I probably got to talk to my family in the U.S. about 4 times for a few, brief minutes because long distance calls were so expensive!
My goal was to become fluent in Spanish, so I lived with a Spanish family while attending classes at the local university. The family was a single mother in her fifties and her three sons who were 20, 18, and 13 years old. There was one other American exchange student living there too. In all, there were six of us living in small three bedroom apartment with one bathroom. Additionally, the family was permitted to only speak to us in Spanish.
Every morning for four months, my Spanish “mother” would serve me a piece of toast with butter and jelly on it and some instant coffee (that was more milk than coffee). She was the only one up in the morning, and we would have a very brief conversation together. Lunch was at 2 pm everyday, and their family would gather around the TV to eat lunch with very little conversation.
Every night, my Spanish “mother” would go out to eat and drink on the town, as would her sons. She would leave me and the other American exchange student to eat a cold sandwich. I thought this was just the way Spaniards did things. When I talked to the other exchange students at my school, they were having a way different experience! The other students told me of the wonderful meals and conversations they had with their host families. They were welcomed and included in the family.
Even though I was living with a family, eating lunch with them everyday, and living under one roof, I was never truly a member of their family. In fact, I realized later on that, they were just using me and using the system, to get a paycheck from the Student Exchange program. You see, there is a BIG DIFFERENCE between being a guest and being a family member!
I believe many churchgoers miss out on the relational intimacy, spiritual growth, and increased joy that result from being intimately connected to God’s family - the church. When a Christian is content to be a guest at church, rather than a fully connected family member, they are cheating themselves relationally, spiritually, and emotionally. Furthermore, as a person who proclaims that Jesus is your Savior, Lord, and Treasure, it would make sense that you would love and treasure the things that Jesus loves. And, what is Jesus greatest earthly love? The church! Jesus’ love for the Church is so intimate that the Bible refers to it as His bride! (see Rev. 21:1-4, Eph. 5:25-32).
I love how Joshua Harris explains this in his insightful book, Stop Dating The Church: Fall in Love with the Family of God. Joshua writes, “You see, the strongest argument I know for why you and I should love and care about the Church is that Jesus does. The greatest motivation we could ever find for being passionately committed to the Church is that Jesus is passionately committed to the Church. As Christians we’re called to be imitators of God (Eph. 5:1). We’re to be conformed to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29). Can there be any question that to part of being like Jesus is to love what He loves? Christians often speak of wanting God’s heart for the poor or the lost. And these are good desires. But shouldn’t we also want God’s heart for the Church? If Jesus loves the Church, you and I should too. It’s that simple.” (pg. 31).
Jesus is not content to be a guest in our lives or or in His church. He is committed to His people as a husband (family member) who will never leave or forsake His bride. Therefore, we too should be committed to a church family as a covenantal member who is wholeheartedly invested with our time, talents, and treasures for God’s glory, our increased joy in Christ, and for other’s good! When we commit to God’s family and get truly connected, we benefit relationally, spiritually, and emotionally.
We benefit relationally by getting to have deeper, more intimate relationships as we become active participants in a discipleship/fellowship group like our Gospel Community Groups. It’s in a small group context like this that we share the highs and lows of our week, study the Bible together, enjoy meals together and pray together. This is one of God’s greatest vehicles for Christians to grow in Christ-likeness. It feels great to be connected with other Christians this intimately. In fact, the Bible says that Christians are family! Because God is our heavenly Father, that makes all Christians, brother and sisters in Christ! Being a part of a loving family that sticks with you through thick and thin is so much better than being a guest.
Being a member of a family means you also serve each other and contribute to the family, because you love one another. Serving the church family with your time and skills, is something our Heavenly Father calls us to do (Eph. 4:12, Heb. 10:24-25). A good father loves to see his children loving each other, encouraging each others, serving one another, sacrificing and sharing with each other. As a family does these things things their bond of love, unity, and commitment deepens. As a result, our joy and pleasure increases as well. Furthermore, when unbelievers see the members of the church loving one another like this, Jesus says it is proof that we are really part of God’s family and He is our Father! (see Jn. 13:35)
One last comment about my time in Spain. My time there would have been unbearable because of loneliness and distance from my blood family. However, in God’s grace, a couple of weeks after I arrived in Spain, I found a small church of Bible believing Christians who sincerely loved Jesus. That church became my family in Spain, and made all the difference! I was not considered a guest, I was committed there and they were committed to me. We were family! In conclusion, I hope you better understand some of the reasons why it’s so important to be a committed, active member of a church, and not just a guest who attends regularly. If you are not a member at North, I hope you will consider coming to our Membership Class this Sunday to learn more about what it means to be a part of our church family!