A reality must be faced. We have to work out how the Bible's teaching on the church applies on the local level. It’s true that once a person is saved, he or she is already a member of the universal church. Every true Christian is. So why talk about local church membership? Because it’s necessary for God’s greater glory in two arenas: the arena of the world and the arena of believers.
God’s glory is displayed in the world by how the church acts, by who it is, by how it functions, etc. And all of these things require a community atmosphere. That’s why the book of Ephesians is in the plural. An individual cannot be the “holy temple in the Lord” all by himself. An individual cannot display Christ’s life-changing power to transform a person’s interpersonal communication if there are no other people around! We would never be able to effectively minister to the world around us if we all did our own things without any organization. Common biblical images such as “the body” assume a group setting for some of these very reasons. Jesus said that people would know that the Father had sent Him when Christians became perfectly one. That involves commitment to one another – to people that you can see and know, people who are local to you.
But God’s glory is at stake among believers, too. God intends that the body encourage us to walk in holiness (Heb. 3:12-14). This is to be accomplished by the continuous lifting up of Christ in “psalms, hymns, spiritual songs,” scripture, testimony, etc. But it is also accomplished by the discipline of godly leadership that helps us resist our sin natures and upholds righteous standards in the body (1 Cor. 5:9-13). We should be eager for God’s means that help us press on in knowing and pursuing Him. Some of this can be augmented in other facets of the universal church (such as a random home Bible study group or a para-church ministry). However, the local church is still the central core. In the local church God gathers all the spiritual gifts, all sorts and types of people, and establishes elders who rule with authority and shepherd the flock of God entrusted to them – a flock identified by the formal, self-commitment of sheep to the flock by way of membership. This local church administers the enduring ordinances of baptism and communion and is itself the “pillar and buttress of the truth.” (1 Tim. 3:15) These other ministries may be good, but they are optional extensions of the main body. You need the church to persevere – and when that happens, you are blessed and God is honored.
The Bible requires local church membership – formal commitment to the local church. In making this commitment, a Christian maximizes the benefit to him/herself. S/he also maximizes his/her involvement in God’s great transcendent plan of making for Himself a new people who will one day inhabit a New Heaven and Earth that is filled with His glory.
To begin the process of church membership, please complete our membership application, and return it to an elder, pastor or to the church office. An elder will follow up with you shortly after to discuss further your desire for membership. You can download the application here.