“Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood.” Acts 20:28
Christ’s suffering testified to the fact that He aimed to call out a people (not just a bunch of individuals) for his name (1 Peter 2). He is glorified by a community that declares His sufficiency for them. If the fact that Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:25) in this way isn’t enough, here are some other practical and theological reasons why we love to see people engaged in a local body of believers:
As a member of the body, you are under the care and supervision of the pastoral staff and other ministries of the church. These ministries are designed to help you in your walk with Christ (Ephesians 4:11-16).
Since the beginning of the church, there has been a clear line between those who were members and those who were not (1 John 2:19).
The resources of Providence may be able to help you get overseas for mission trips, can help in times of need, etc (Titus 3:14).
You will become an identified member of this local church. You are then visibly identified with Christ’s body. When Jesus came to Saul on the Damascus road, He asked him, “Saul, Saul why are you persecuting me?” He did not say, “Why are you persecuting my church?,” but He said “me.” Jesus is so closely related to the church that He sees her as His wife. He is inseparable from His church. This means that Christ’s representation on earth is the church and when you believe in Jesus you belong to the universal church and seek to become part of the local church, His visible and tangible presence in a people (Acts 9:4).
People will be praying for you on a regular basis through the prayer ministry (Luke 19:46).
Timothy 2:15 instructs us that the church is the “pillar and support of the truth,” so by not being a part of the body you may expose yourself to many errors in doctrine (Jue 3; 1 Timothy 4:16; Ephesians 4:14-16).
1 Peter 5:5 states, “You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders…” This submissive spirit shows itself by one’s willingness to submit to the elders of the local body in which he or she is involved. The elders here hold membership as a high value and thus have raised the bar on what it means to be a member at Providence (Hebrews 13:17).
God has gifted each believer with a gift to be used in his body (1 Corinthians 12:4-7). Many struggle with finding their place in Providence. The reason for this could be because they have not fully committed to the body through membership.
For the people of God to fully experience God’s love and fully express God’s love one needs to belong to a local church. “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13). The greatest apologetic the church has to show Jesus is real to a lost and dying world is to love one another. “…As I have loved you, so also you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35)
Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are available to all believers who have placed their faith in Christ. There is a difference however between those who are visiting the church and those who are committed members. Members are able to welcome people into their church body through baptism and are able to participate with their church body at the table of the Lord. The horizontal aspects of their worship are strengthened because they celebrate the ordinances with their local family. A visitor is not able to have this type of experience through the ordinances (Matthew 28:18-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-34).
Becoming a member opens up a variety of service opportunities that are not available to attendees (Acts 20:35).
God desires for His people to be holy. We do church discipline because we love you. We want what is best for you, namely, your growing closer to Christ. Accountability is for your good and God’s glory. We need each other to speak into our lives and do all that is possible to help one another walk in a manner worthy of Christ name. Church discipline is always for the intention of restoration and not punitive. If you are not a member, we don’t have the context to love you in this manner because the process is to be done in a local church setting (Matthew 18:15-20; Galatians 6:1; 1 Timothy 5:20).