Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Where is church membership in the Bible?

Jonathan Leeman, in his book Church Membership, explains why finding biblical support for church membership may not be as straightforward a task as we expect:

When people ask, "Where is membership in the bible?" the problem is they're looking for something like a club to join, because the word membership is a club word. Clubs and political parties and labor unions have memberships. But you don't often use the word membership in relation to governments and the citizens of nations. You don't say,"So how's the membership of the British nation doing? Aren't you guys running, like, sixty million members these days?"

Clubs begin with a point of common interest. Service providers begin with a common need or desire. Churches have all this, but they have something more: a king who requires the obedience of his people. The church begins with this fact: Jesus is savior and Lord. He has died on the cross for the sins of everyone who would believe to follow him.

This means the Bible doesn't talk about church membership quite as you might want it to. It talks instead baout how God's people gather together under his supreme rule. It's interested in the citizens of a kingdom, not club members.

(Leeman, Jonathan. Church Membership: How the World Knows Who Represents Jesus. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012. Print. 26)

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