Why is church membership such a big deal?

Membership meeting. The Five Solas.


We also affirm the Nine Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever


    1    Expositional Preaching Expositional preaching (otherwise known as expository preaching) is the investigation of a particular passage of Scripture whereby the pastor carefully explains the meaning of a passage and then applies it to the members of the congregation. The point of a sermon, then, takes the point of a particular passage. This is in opposition to the topical preaching showcased in the many evangelical churches, where Bible passages are woven together to support a pre-existing point.


    2    Biblical Theology Biblical theology assumes that Scripture’s many authors and many books are telling one story by one divine author—about Christ. Pastors too often play one note when, as it has been said, the entire Bible is a beautiful symphony. Salvation is more than being saved from debt, loneliness, or a bad marriage. The gospel is even more than the perfect life, death, and resurrection of Christ. Congregations should instead be told how every passage fits into the grand storyline of the Bible: creation, fall, redemption, new-creation.

    3    Biblical Understanding of the Good News There needs to be a proper understanding and necessary emphasis on the full gospel. Where many contemporary churches teach that Jesus wants to meet our felt needs and give us a healthier self-image, that is not the gospel. The gospel message is that we are sinners who have rebelled against our Creator. But Jesus took the curse that was rightfully ours and all that remains is for us to have faith in Him so God may credit Christ’s righteousness to our account. When we de-emphasize sin and damnation to make the presentation more friendly and less offensive we cease declaring the full gospel.


    4    Biblical Understanding of Conversion When we have a Biblical understanding of the gospel, we must then also have a proper understanding of conversion. Conversion is a new birth from death to life and is a work of God. It is not merely a change of attitude or a change of affection, but a change of nature. Conversion does not need to be an exciting, emotional experience, but does need to produce fruit to be judged a true conversion.


    5    Biblical Understanding of Evangelism The way we evangelize speaks volumes about how we understand conversion (and further, what we understand about the good news). If we believe that people are essentially good and are seeking Jesus, we evangelize using half truths and tend to elicit false conversions. When we present a watered-down gospel, we end up with a watered-down church. We need to be faithful to present the full gospel, the good news with the bad, and leave the results to God.


    6    Biblical Understanding of Membership Church membership is a privilege and a responsibility and needs to be regarded as such. People should only be members if they are dedicated to the church – in attendance, prayer, service and giving. To allow people to become and remain members for sentimental or other unbiblical reasons makes light of membership and may even be dangerous. 


    7    Biblical Church Discipline Discipline guides church membership. The church has the responsibility to judge the life and teaching of the membership since they can negatively impact the church’s witness of the gospel. Leadership need to be firm in discipline as this is an expression of love to the congregation. 


    8    Promotion of Church Discipleship And Growth We need to recover true discipleship – discipleship that causes Christians to live lives of increasing holiness. The emphasis on growth needs to be directed at holiness rather than membership. True discipleship producing strong, committed Christians will present a clear witness to the world. 


    9    Biblical Understand of Leadership Until recent times, almost all Protestants agreed that in church government there should be a plurality of elders (which means that there should be an office of elder and not merely one or more pastors in positions of leadership). This is a Biblical and practical model that has fallen out of favor in modern times.

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