What Does Church Membership Mean?

What Does Church Membership Mean?

March 18, 2024 | Matt Hoffert

We recently had another membership class at Veritas, and I am always interested in hearing people describe what church membership meant at their previous church. For some, it meant that they got to vote on key issues, for others, it meant that they received a monthly newsletter in the mail, while many others couldn’t really provide an answer. That raises the following questions: Does church membership matter? Is it biblical? What does it mean at Veritas?

We see the early church in Acts 2. People were unified in the gospel, and as a result, how they lived life together was radically different than before. We see in Hebrews 13:17-18 and 1 Peter 5:1-11 that there is a structure to church leadership. Those in the church are to be subject to their leaders and pray for their elders. The elders are called to lead and shepherd the flock, providing oversight over their local church. In fact, we see that they will give an account to God for how they steward this responsibility. That raises the question, who are they leading and who will they have to give an account for? Is it those who regularly attend? Those who attended once? Those who are involved in every activity of the church? The answer: the elders are responsible for the members of the church.

The New Testament lays out a model for the local church, where leaders are to know who their people are, and people are to know who their leaders are. Membership is the covenant that clarifies that relationship. At Veritas, we covenant together in holiness, community, ownership, and accountability.

When it comes to holiness, we want our members to commit to pursuing closeness to God relationally and to honor God in all of life. Members will be challenged to fight sin, encouraged to stay close to Jesus, and pursue spiritual growth. Paul labored to present believers mature and complete (Col. 1:28-29). Elders are to do the same for members of their church.

In regards to community, members commit to gather together regularly for corporate worship and to be in relationships that provide care, support, and accountability in following Jesus. We want our people to prioritize gathering together, to regularly spur each other on to love and good works, and to encourage each other as we look ahead to the day Christ returns (Heb. 10:24-25). Discipleship relationships are vital for our members.

Our members will take ownership. Members differ from attenders in that we want them to act as owners in their commitment to help meet the needs of ministry through serving, giving, and disciple-making. Members of a local church have a part to play and can help edify the church body (1 Cor. 12:12-27). We want our members to be pace setters by contributing with both their time and finances to the work of ministry. Christians are sent people and we want our members to live on mission as ambassadors of Christ (2 Cor. 5:20).

Finally, we will help keep our members accountable. They will be committed to and recognize the need to have the voice of church leadership and other believers in their lives as they follow Jesus. In becoming a member, you are inviting the voice of church leadership in your life. Leadership will pray for you, encourage you, and challenge you when necessary. Membership also enables church discipline when appropriate (Matt. 18, 1 Cor. 5).

Overall, church membership is biblical and important in the life of a local church. As a member of Veritas, you are expressing your commitment to pray for and hold your leaders accountable. You are expressing your commitment to be an active participant and contributor in the life of the church, and you are expressing your desire for the elders to speak into your life and hold you accountable. As a member you are not merely an attender, but someone who has said,” I’m for the mission of this church, I welcome the voice of leadership of the church in my life, and I want to contribute to and participate in the ministry of the church.”

If you are a member of Veritas, are you pursuing holiness, gathering in community, taking ownership, and welcoming accountability? How can you grow in these areas? If you are not a member but desire to be, we look forward to seeing you in the next membership class.

Matt Hoffert

Discipleship Pastor