Another important mark of a healthy church according to Dever is church membership. He begins his chapter on church membership with the following two paragraphs:
“Is church membership a biblical idea? In one sense, no. Open up the New Testament, and you won’t find a story about, say, Priscilla and Aquila moving to the city of Rome, checking out one church, then another, and finally deciding to join a third. From what we call tell, nobody when “church shopping” because there was only one church in each community. In that sense, you won’t find a list of church members in the New Testament.
But the churches of the New Testament apparently kept lists of people, such as the lists of widows supported by the church (1 Timothy 5). More significantly, a number of passages in the New Testament suggest that churches did have some way of delineating their members. They knew who belonged to their assemblies and who did not.” (p. 93)
He goes on to write about 4 things that biblical church membership means:
1) Biblical membership means commitment - commitment to & covenanted with other believers for mutual edification and the carrying out of the Great Commission
2) Biblical membership means taking responsibility - being responsible to serve one another through love; held accountable for a holy lifestyle by others; caring for one another; helping one another follow Jesus
3) Biblical membership means salvation affirmation - being part of a congregation helps clarify what it means to be a Christian to a watching world; other believers can affirm God’s work in a person’s life through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit
4) Biblical membership is meaningful - membership with a congregation is much more than a club (of any kind); it’s not just a place to keep our name so we don’t have to buy a cemetery plot; it’s not a place we keep our name for sentimental reasons; it is about calling, commitment, and responsibility
Church membership is more about “family responsibility” rather than “rights”. How do we view membership?