Why might people reject the idea?
Statistics show that 10,000,000 “members” of Southern Baptist churches do not show up on an average Sunday. Well, I agree that is unbiblical!
Why Southern Baptists have emphasized “regenerate church membership”?
The most prominent view among Christians in the Middle Ages was that the church was made up of believers and their children, regenerate or not. Many churches still confuse who the church is and who the church is not. Whether letting a non-Christian be a greeter is sinful or not, who will people think– and who will the non-Christian greeter think– is the church if that becomes normal?
Church “membership” in the Bible
- They kept records (Acts 2.41, 2 Cor 2.6, 1 Tim 5.9)- 3,000 new souls, a “majority” in Corinth, enrollment of widows; you cannot say this idea is foreign to the NT.
- Church discipline (Matt 18.15-18, 1 Cor 5.1-5, 1 Tim 1.20) makes no sense without some sense of who is in and who is out.
- Body/building/household metaphors (1 Cor 12.12-30, Eph 2.19-22) are where we get the very word “members” from; and it would have to be people who know each other well for the illustrations to hold weight
- Pastor-sheep distinction (Acts 6.1-7, 1 Tim 3.1-13, Heb 13.17, 1 Peter 5.1-5) implies a defined group under recognized leadership. I am not the pastor of someone who goes to that church, but only of someone who goes to this church!
Why formal church membership?
- As a response to culture- we must respond to transience, church-hopping, unbiblical ways of dealing with conflicts (i.e. just leave the church); it should feel like cutting off a limb when people leave
- Help draw lines for non-Christians- do not let them think they are members of the church if they are not followers of Christ!
- Best way to care for sheep that I know- Gal 6.10 helps to prioritize time for pastors; helps to pray more efficiently; helps to have specific people in mind when preaching; helps guard the entrance for sheep only
Please do not object before thinking hard about this