By: Bro. Eyanrin Sunday (Evangelist)
Brethren, today, we will be looking at our message for discussion titled:
THE IMPORTANCE OF MEMBERSHIP IN THE LOCAL CONGREGATION
This discussion is timely because, so many Christians do not seem to understand why Church membership should be placed or attached in a specific locality, therefore abuse God’s divine plan and purpose for the organizational structure of the Church.
WHY IS PLACING MEMBERSHIP TO A LOCAL CONGREGATION SO IMPORTANT?
IS IT REALLY NECESSARY TO PLACE ONCE MEMBERSHIP TO A LOCAL CONGREGATION?
These are some of the issues we will be addressing today in this discussion. But before then, let me prepare your mind for a proper understanding concerning the use of the term Church and local congregation.
The English word “CHURCH” is translated from the Greek word “ekklessia”. Meaning – a call out of people. 1 Peter.2:9-10. Every figure used to identify the Church in the New Testament emphasizes its singularity. It is necessary that we consider the term used by our Lord us Christ in Matt. 16:18 – 19.
Matt. 16:18 – 19. And I also say to you, that you are Peter and, on this rock, I will build my Church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it, and I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on Earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven. The term “Church” and Kingdom of Heaven are used interchangeably in Mathew 16:18-19, meaning one and the same thing. It is proper that we make more clarification about the Church. The Church can be identified in two different ways.
- The Universal Church
- The local Church
The Universal Church is refereed to as the Singularity of the one body of Christ, as stated in Mathew 16:18-19. Jesus declared, upon this Rock I will build My “Church” (singular) and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it (Not them) In Ephesians 4:4, Apostle Paul by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit declared, there is one body.
Colossians 1:18, And He is the Head of the body, the Church. The analysis we just made is all about the one entity of the Universal Church.
WHAT THEN IS THE LOCAL CHURCH?
The New Testament used the term “Churches” as it refers to a group of Christians in a local community or city assemble for worship.
This is the same as (local congregation). For Example – Romans 16:16. Salute one another with a Holy kiss; the Churches of Christ salute you. Rev. 1:4. John to the seven Churches which are in Asia. 1 Cor. 1:2, To the Church of God which is at Corinth. These Churches are referred to as local Congregations in different places.
WHAT IS LOCAL CHURCH MEMBERSHIP?
The term “Local” suggests a given or specified area as opposed to a wider scope, or area. e.g. Okumabga layout – Warri. “MEMBERSHIP” is simply the state or status of being a member, an also refers to one’s alignment with the local Congregation. The scriptural idea of membership is that the individual expresses his or her willingness to identify by submission to the spiritual authority of the Eldership of the local Congregation. (Hebrews 13:7 & 17, Acts 20:28) Please, let us affirm these two passages by reading them.
Hebrews.13:7 & 17: Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct. ‘’ Obey those who rule over you , and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you’’.
ACTS 20:28: “Therefore, take heed to yourselves and to all the flocks, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the Church of God which He purchase with His own blood.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
God’s divine plan for the local Congregation began in Acts 8:1 – 4, when the Church at Jerusalem was persecuted, and the Church scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria. Therefore, those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word as commanded
by our Lord in Matthew 28:18 – 20 and Mark 16:15 – 16. This mark the beginning of some of the local Congregations such as:
The Church at Antioch – Acts 11:19 – 26
The Church at Corinth – Acts 18: 1 – 8, 1Cor. 1 :1 – 2.
The Church at Ephesus – Acts.19: 1 – 7
The Seven Churches at Asia – Rev. 2: 1 -2.
THE IMPORTANCE OF PLACING MEMBERSHIP WITH A LOCAL CONGREGATION
The importance of placing a Christian’s membership with a local Congregation cannot be over emphasized. Today, we will carefully x-ray some vital areas of importance why every Christian should be associated with a local Congregation.
BIBLICAL REASON OF PLACING MEMBERSHIP #1.
The individual Christian Membership is tied to the authority of the Eldership of the local Congregation who must give account of the soul of her members to God. Heb. 13:7&17.
BIBLICAL REASON FOR PLACING MEMBERSHIP #2
The New Testament Church advocate that all members must assemble for the purpose of worship, to admonish one another. Acts 2:41-42, Matt. 28:20, observe the Lord’s supper Acts 20:7, 1 Cor. 11:23 – 26, sing: Heb. 13;15, Collection for the Saints. 1 Cor. 16:1-2.
BIBLICAL REASON FOR PLACING MEMBERSHIP #3
EVANGELISM is the primary responsibility of the local Congregation, and every member of the local Congregation must be active to the great commission command of our Lord Jesus Christ. Mk. 16:15-16, Matt. 28:18- 20. GO into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
BIBLICAL REASON FOR PLACING MEMBERSHIP #4 –
The local congregation is the only scriptural agency by which erring members of the church can be discipline. When a member of the Church falls into an obvious sin, the local authority of leadership should be able to apply the scriptural steps to handle such problems, using Matt. 18:15 – 17. It is the duty of the local church to take such action, to keep the purity of the church. We must not allow what happened in 1 Cor. 5: 1-6.
BIBLICAL REASON FOR PLACING MEMBERSHIP #5
THE ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE OF THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH
The importance of church membership is seen in the organizational structure of the local congregation. For any congregation to be scripturally organized, faithful, and scripturally qualified members of the local congregation are appointed to take the responsibility of the day-to-day oversight of the congregation. Titus.1:5 – 9, 1Tim.3:1 – 7& 8 – 13.
BIBLICAL REASON FOR PLACING MEMBERSHIP #6
Each local congregation is a self – governing body responsible directly to “CHRIST” the head of the Church. Autonomy means the right to attend to your own affairs. Church autonomy cannot be put in place without having members of the local congregation who are qualified to handle such responsibility, this is one primary reason why membership with a local congregation is important. The primary factions of autonomy are: (1) control its own resources (2) exercise the oversight of its own work (3) manage its own affairs (4) discipline its own disorderly members (5) provide for its own needy brethren (6) govern it own self with the fear of God. Unqualified members must not be there, because it dangerous for such to be there.
BIBLICAL REASON FOR PLACING MEMBERSHIP #7
For one reason or the other a Christian can transfer his or her membership. It can be due to work or relocating to another place. Look at the importance of the local congregation in action. Transferring membership means requesting release from the leadership of a local congregation, and willingly placing oneself under the leadership of another congregation. Our biblical example is the case study of Sister. Phoebe in Rom.16:1 -2.
BIBLICAL REASON FOR PLACING MEMBERSHIP #8
MEMBERSHIP AT LARGE
The term membership at large is the inability of a Christian Brother or Sister not placing his or her membership with a local congregation, thereby roaming from one congregation to another. This is a situation where he or she cannot scripturally be accounted for. He or she has no affiliation with any local congregation, therefore cannot be accounted for by any congregation. In Heb.13:7, &17, Elders are to give account of her members, who then will account for such a member at large? If the saved are found in the Church, (Eph. 5:22) when Christ comes to collect His saints where will a member at large be? It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Heb. 10:31.
Beloved, after going through the importance of Membership in the local Congregation, is placing membership in a local congregation necessary? Yes, indeed! Is it scriptural? Absolutely it is! Are you involved in this dangerous act? If yes, come out now before it is too late.
MAY GOD BLESS HIS WORD IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.