Church ministry and leadership

2. Becoming a member of the Christian Church

Every true believer in Christ must, in due time, consider church membership. The Apostle Paul used the human body and its members, as a picture of the church/ecclesia. His analogy showed the need to belong, to be a member, to be effectively joined as one body.

(1 Cor 12:12-27 NIV) The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body.
So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Now the body is not made up of one part but of many.
If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? {20} As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

How to become a member of a local church

The basic concepts

i. Spiritual Membership:

One cannot join the Ecclesia as with a social club. We are added by the Lord God.

(Acts 2:47 NIV) praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.And the Lord addedto their number daily those who were being saved.
(Acts 5:13-14 NIV) No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. {14} Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number.

The believer who comes into salvation through Jesus is born again. Their spirit springs into life and by the Holy Spirit they are added to the universal ecclesia.

ii. Practical Membership

A visible and practical expression of ecclesia membership is demonstrated by belonging to the “local ecclesia”

(Acts 2:47 NIV) praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord
added to their number daily those who were being saved.

(James 2:18 NIV) But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.

The standards set and evidences to be shown for New Testament Ecclesia membership.

(Acts 2:37-38 NIV) When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

These have never changed. They are tangible and visible standards.

Should some kind of church roll or record be kept?

Yes! Scripture abounds with references to books being kept wherein the names of God’s people were recorded.

i. Old Testament

Israel had their names in the “Book of Genealogy” They were numbered. (Num 1:2 NIV) “Take a census of the whole Israelite community by their clans and families,listing every man by name, one by one.

The Levites were numbered before they could minister in the priestly calling. (Num 3:15 NIV) “Count the Levites by their families and clans.Count every malea month old or more.”

All the numbered of Israel had to be redeemed with silver. (Exo 30:11-16 NIV) Then the LORD said to Moses, “When you take a census of the Israelites to count them, each one must pay the LORD a ransom for his life at the time he is counted. Then no plague will come on them when you number them. Each one who crosses over to those already counted is to give a half shekel, according to the sanctuary shekel, which weighs twenty gerahs. This half shekel is an offering to the LORD. All who cross over, those twenty years old or more, are to give an offering to the LORD. The rich are not to give more than a half shekel and the poor are not to give less when you make the offering to the LORD to atone for your lives. Receive the atonement money from the Israelites and use it for the service of the Tent of Meeting. It will be a memorial for the Israelites before the LORD, making atonement for your lives.”

ii. New Testament

The redeemed of all ages have their names written in the Book of Life,

(Phil 4:3 NIV) Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
(Rev 13:8 NIV) All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.

The Ecclesia of the First Born have their names written in heaven.

(Heb 12:22-24 NIV) But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the ecclesia of the firstborn,whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

God keeps records. He records all the names of His people. There should be no problem if we do likewise. Without a record of names and where God’s sheep are, the task of the shepherds becomes very difficult.

The legal aspect

Legal requirements stipulate that proper records of membership be kept in relationship to ecclesia funds, holding of property, taxes, insurance etc. This record cannot just be an invisible, mystical method of record keeping. For these reasons alone, functioning officers (ministries) in the ecclesia must be members so that they may come under the protection of the civil law. In addition membership gives certain privileges in regard to voting, in the area of temporal management of the ecclesia.

Some advantages of practical local church membership

i. You belong to a family of God and share in its security and protection
ii. Fellowship is able to grow more easily between you and others.
iii. Loving correction is possible.
iv. Love, care and concern in a practical way by the oversight is possible.
v. The commitment to a family of God and the responsibilities of this membership demonstrates your faith and brings a benefit.

(James 2:21-24 NIV) Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, andhis faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. {24} You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.