Why join a church? Can’t we just attend regularly? Is church membership even biblical? Does membership really even matter? These are a few of the questions I’ve received over the last two years regarding our membership process at Tabernacle. Frankly, they’re great questions that I want to address here!
Not a Club!
When Pastor Todd and the pastoral staff started discussing rehashing our membership process in January of 2014, we came to one primary conclusion: people were confused about what it meant to be a part of a church.
Whatever the reason, we often think of the church as a club to join, pay your dues, and receive some sort of benefit for belonging. Even as pastors, we often find ourselves falling into this kind of thinking. But the more we looked at the Scriptures, the more we saw high expectations for those who claimed to be a part of a church fellowship. The church definitely isn’t a club you join and are involved when you want to be. In fact, you are the church.
“Membership” in the Bible
What is clear from Acts, and really the whole New Testament, is that people in a local church were committed to God’s Word, prayer, and the breaking of bread. They even shared their possessions and were known, by name, as being part of the local body (Acts 2:44-47). Only people who had certain commitments, including to the church itself, were a part of the church. People who were not committed to these things weren’t a part of the fellowship.
In other words, there was a clear way of identifying who was truly a part of the church (a member) and who wasn’t. And even when those inside the church showed themselves to be uncommitted to following Christ, they were lovingly confronted, and ultimately told to leave if they did not repent (1 Cor. 5:13). Why so harsh? Because the reality was that, no matter how much they wanted to be a part of the church, unless they were willing to make certain commitments in the midst of the body, they couldn’t be.
Membership at Tabernacle
Suffice it to say, members of a church in the New Testament were expected to have certain commitments. Even though we don’t see them signing a covenant, or going to an “All In!” class, we can know that being a part of a fellowship meant way more than just attending a corporate worship service on Sundays, or even volunteering in a particular ministry.
This is why we have the “All In!” class. This is also why anyone who wants to join must go through this class and agree to the “All In” covenant. We want to be as clear as possible as to what it means to be a part of the church, and what it truly means to follow Christ and be “All In!” We also want to get to know you at least a little and know that we are all on the same page as to what Tabernacle is all about.
The Church isn’t a club; it’s the body of Christ. It isn’t some optional social gathering once a week– it’s a community of people united by the blood of Christ, and that have certain commitments to holiness and the Great Commission, among other things. These commitments, which make up our “covenant”, is what makes you a member!
“We think it’s so crucial to understand what the church stands for that you’re going to become a part of and serve with. So we really enjoyed ‘All In’ class.” -Scott and Kim Morgan, members since April 2014.
For more about our membership process, as well as a list of our 8 core values, click here: https://tabernaclefamily.org/steps/
For questions, or to signup for our next “All In!” class, email [email protected].
Ryan Gilbert, Discipleship Pastor