If you claim to be a follower of Christ, I encourage you to consider your present commitment to a local church. – David Platt.
Have you considered how important, and biblical, is our commitment to a local church? The local church is the place where the individual Christian has the opportunity find resources such as support, accountability, encouragement, and fellowship. The local church is where we grow in Christ and are equipped to go out and reflect His love back into the world. We would be remiss to neglect the opportunities offered by local church membership.
Without commitment from its members, it is impossible for a local church to create an atmosphere of community. Without community, the local church cannot offer support to its members when they are in need. Since life always happens, we will all find ourselves, at one point or another, in need of community support. If we are not committed to the local church, then we cannot be a part of that support system. If we are not committed to the local church, then how can they know that we are in need of community support when life happens to us? There are always gaps people’s lives, and the local church is how God uses other people to fill those gaps. Paul says, of the church body:
If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. (1 Corinthians 12:26-27 NIV)
Church membership is the proclamation that a person is committed to be an active part of a single body. While, ultimately, the larger body includes all Christians, it is from the local context that this begins. The local church is where we cry, laugh, grown, and mourn together—as one body. One cannot be a part of the larger Church if they are not first a part of the local church. Jesus says:
He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. (Luke 16:10 NASB)
It is silly to think that one can commit to something big when they will not commit to something small. Patterns tend to follow the individual even when the stakes increase. A person who is not responsible with a small amount of money is probably not going to be responsible with a large amount of money. An employee who will not commit to doing a few tasks is probably not going to commit to more tasks that would come with a promotion. An individual who does not commit to a local church is simply not going to commit to the Body of Christ at any level. Membership in the local church is the logical first step in claiming membership in the Body of Christ.
The Bible speaks with the expectation that local church membership is already in practice. Consider the author of Hebrews who writes the following to Christians concerning their local churches:
Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith…Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you. (Hebrews 13:7,17 NIV).
All Christians are commanded to obey and submit to the authority of their church leaders. To obey this command, the Christian must commit to a local church. The wording of this scripture implies that each Christian would know who their leaders are. If we are only to be members of the greater Church and not the local, then we would find that we are under the authority of every Christian leader. If that is the case, which ones should we submit to? Should we submit to the pastor at the Baptist Church? Should we submit to the board at the Christian and Missionary Alliance? Without the context of membership to a local church, this command would lead to confusion. God is a God of order, not confusion (1 Cor. 14:33). In order to keep this command, the Christian must declare to what authority they will submit.
According to this passage in Hebrews, the leaders that we are to submit to must give an account of those they oversee. In order to do this fairly, the leaders must know who they are responsible for. As a pastor of a local Nazarene Church, am I responsible for the Christians at the Methodist Church or the Assembly of God Church? Of course not! Each of these churches is responsible for those whom God has sent and that have submitted to their authority.
We must each be willing to serve God in a local context and be made subject to accountability with that church. When we do this, we will find that we will grow more soundly in biblical knowledge, holiness, and love for God, His people, and the world He has sent us to serve.
What is your commitment to your local church? It says a lot about your commitment to Christ.
Grafted by His Grace,
Pastor Raul Granillo