Why Join a Church?
The answer to this question may be seen most clearly in the images (or metaphors) that the Bible uses to describe the church. Let's look at just three of those images:
1. The church is pictured as a building.
In I Corinthians, chapter 3, Paul addresses the young church at Corinth that consists of “mere infants in Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:1). These young Christians were struggling against the worldview of the day to keep their Scriptural convictions.
But Paul reminds them, “...we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building” (1 Corinthians 3:9). Paul says that he laid the foundation of this building by being the first to preach the gospel in Corinth.
The building (or temple) metaphor is used elsewhere in Scripture (Ephesians 2:21; 2 Corinthians 6:16; 1 Timothy 3:15; 2 Peter 2:5). In fact, 2 Peter 2:5 goes as far as to call believers, “living stones” in a spiritual house. So, if the local church is considered God’s building, what is it made of? It is made of Christians, each Christian with a purpose, each with a place. Each Christian resting and relying on the other – just as a brick rests on the bricks below it and supports the bricks above it. If we are bricks in a building built by God, then no brick will be left just lying around with no place to go, and no brick will be only loosely attached to the building.
2. The church is pictured as a body.
Perhaps the most common and the most intuitive metaphor for the local church is that of a body. A church body does not separate easily or painlessly. The first time Scripture refers to Christians as being part of one body is Romans 12:4-5:
“Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”
This “body” is seen most clearly in the context of a local church. It is here that individuals come together with a single purpose: to glorify God. There are some called to teach, some called to build, some called to counsel, some called to work with youth, some called to work with the poor, etc. Each responsibility contributes to one greater whole – the body of Christ – of which each individual is a “member.”
When one part of your body is injured, the entire body is affected. If you break your left foot the right foot must bear more weight, your arms must balance better and even your back must adjust to greater stress. A local church is the same way. Each member comes with gifts and weaknesses, and we compensate for each other. In addition, being members of a body means we don’t have to run our race alone. A healthy body is a powerful tool for God’s work.
3. The church is pictured as a family.
As Paul writes to Timothy, he explains the church not in terms of where disciples meet, but in terms of how disciples are related to one another. In 1 Timothy 3:15, after giving Timothy much instruction, Paul writes, “...if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God...”
Who is the head of the household? Christ. Who are the children who reside in the household? They are men and women who have surrendered to the authority of Jesus Christ by being adopted through Him into God’s family (Ephesians 1:5). Being part of God’s household implies relationships not just with God, but with brothers and sisters in Christ. As with a family, these relationships are not to be casual; there is too much at stake to be casual. These relationships are giving, sharing and binding.
While many churches, even with church membership, do not look like a united family, church membership is still an imperfect but powerful sign that God’s family is together and united, accountable and dependable; completely sharing the mind of Christ.
Hopefully, you see a pattern in these biblical metaphors and their relation to church membership:
- If we are bricks in a building, how can we not identify with that building?
- If we are members of a physical body, how can we not be securely attached?
- If we are called God’s children, how can we not be united as His family?
Church unity and church membership go together.
The Membership Process at Evanston Baptist Church
1) Become a Christian (a real follower of Jesus whose heart has been made new by God the Holy Spirit).
2) Follow Jesus in the obedience of baptism as a public declaration of your repentance and faith in him.
3) Read and sign a copy of the Evanston Baptist Church covenant.
4) Write a short statement about how you became a Christian, including the story of your baptism.
5) Meet with a pastor/elder to make sure we're on the same page about what membership means.
6) Be nominated for covenant membership by a pastor/elder at a members meeting.
7) Be received into the covenant membership of the church by a vote of the congregation.
8) Live out your faith with EBC and trust the Holy Spirit for grace and power to keep the covenant.
9) When we fail to live by the church covenant (we all do at various times), repent and believe the gospel.
10) Repeat numbers 8 & 9 until you move away and join another church, die, or Jesus comes back.
To explore membership at EBC further, please contact one of the church's elders/pastors: Scott Kelly at <firstname.lastname@example.org> or Henry Petrash at <email@example.com>.