Membership | Introduction
Annie Philips and Dan Anderson
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up on meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
“You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus…”
Our goal at Trinity Chapel: to gather, integrate, and support all those who Christ calls into our community as one family committed to worship and witness.
Why do we talk about Church Membership?
- When we talk about ‘membership’ in church, we mean something different to the idea of a voluntary association (club, sporting team) that is common in our broader society. The biblical idea of church membership comes from the image of the church as a family (we are family members) or even as a body (we are body parts/members). It’s a biblical picture of individuality within deliberately integrated loving commitment to each other. (1 Corinthians 12:12-14; Eph 2:19-22)
- A Christian is someone who is one with Jesus. This means that Jesus’ life and death count for us with God. He has turned us away from our old lives that were hostile to God, condemned by God, and on a course for destruction. Now we live for Jesus instead: our lives are his. Because we belong to Jesus, we also belong to each other. “[I]n Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” (Romans 12:5)
- Membership of a specific, local community of Christians is a normal expectation for following Jesus in the New Testament. We are commanded to not give up meeting together (Hebrews 10:24-25) and encouraged to regard each other as brothers and sisters (Galatians 3:26). We are even told five times to greet each other with a ‘holy kiss’! (Romans 16:16, 1 Corinthians 16:20, 2 Corinthians 13:12, and 1 Thessalonians 5:26, 1 Peter 5:14). The church is intended by Jesus to be a community of regular, committed, and affectionate relationships.
Expectations of the Members toward each other:
- Love. All the other expectations and responsibilities of church membership are summarised in the one command of Jesus that we are to love each other. Love makes sense of us. Without love, all the expectations we have of each other as a church become just a burden to escape. With love, the church becomes a window through which you can see what a truly human life lived with God would look like. Love is defined by Jesus. The love we seek to have for each other is the love that Jesus has for us: knowledgable, committed, self-sacrificial. When we love we engage in true worship of God and witness the power of Jesus to each other and the world. (John 13:34-35; 15:12-17; Rom 12:9-10; 13:8-10; Gal 5:15; 6:10; Eph 1:15; 1 Pet 1:22; 2:17; 3:8; 4:8; 1 John 3:16; 4:7-12; c.f., Psalm 133)
- Love leads us to empathise with each others needs and seek to strengthen each other to be more like Jesus. We express our love in care for each others physical and spiritual needs (Matt 25:40; John 12:8; Acts 15:36; Rom 12:13; 15:26; 1 Cor 16:1-2; Gal 2:10; 6:10; Heb 13:16; James 1:27; 1 John 3:17; c.f., Deut 15:7-8:11). Practically this means: learning together and teaching each other from God’s word; praying together for each others’ needs (Eph 6:18); speaking the truth when we need to be encouraged or rebuked to live for Christ (Gal 6:1-2; 2 Thess 3:15); sharing our personal gifts (money, time, and abilities) to help build the church so that it serves Jesus’ purposes.
Expectations of all the Members together:
- Ensure that the teachers of this church do not teach falsely but are servants of God’s word in Scripture. (Galatians 1:8; 2 Tim 4:3; Jude 3-4)
- Ensure that the church does not tolerate among its members any conduct that brings God’s gospel into disrepute or causes the church to be regarded as unholy. (1 Corinthians 5:1-13)
- Submit to faithful leaders who teach the Scripture (Hebrews 13:17) and care for them financially so they can give themselves fully to serving the Lord. (1 Tim 5:17; Acts 6:4; 1 Cor 9:7-14; Gal 6:6)
- Steward the message of the gospel, ensuring that the truth is passed on to the next generation and broadcast out around the world.
What might this look like in an average week?
- personal prayer and bible reading
- attendance at church
- involvement in a bible study group
- sharing regular hospitality with church members (morning tea/supper/invite out for a meal)
- financial partnership
- serving with one of the M-Teams
This could look like 5 hours per week: 2hrs at church; 2hrs at Bible Study; 1hr serving with a ministry team.