Why church membership matters.

“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” -Ephesians 4:25

Sometimes people don’t like the word “member”. It sounds like it comes from a club or something. It sounds exclusive and shallow.

But “member” actually means something pretty crazy. It means a part of the body. And this concept has been around since the very beginning of church history.

So instead of disparaging the word, I think it’s better if we start trying to live up to the word. Maybe, instead of changing the word we use, we should say it with more intention and integrity.

This means a few things:

1. Since body parts don’t just jump around from body to body, I can’t just jump around from fellowship to fellowship. This runs deeper than just the place I visit once a week. This affects where I let my job take me, how often I move, how much I travel, and the way I spend my free time day by day. A body exists 24/7, not one day a week.

2. Since I need to commit to my church like a body part, it matters that the local fellowship has the tools to hold me accountable—which means transferring my membership to them. Otherwise, church discipline loses its power, and no one holds me accountable. My membership has been at the Willits SDA Church (which I really, really love), in California, since I was baptized. But I haven’t lived there for 10 years. Who knows what I’ve been up to? I do keep in touch with folks from Willits, but how can they really hold me to any standard? This is my bad—I should have transferred my membership long ago. I’ll be working on that.

3. Since the body is all connected, we’ve got to be honest with each other. On a person-to-person basis, with the local fellowship to which we’re bound. My church doesn’t only hold me accountable—I take responsibility for them in return. And honesty definitely makes things more intimate—like a body.

Commit to your church for more than once a week. Tie yourselves in locally, officially. Be honest with each other. Be a member.