What are some other reasons to join a church?
In addition to the New Testament’s teaching that every Christian should submit to a local church and its leaders (see Matt. 18:15-20, Heb. 13:17), there are many other good reasons to join a church:
- Assure yourself. Membership is the church’s way of affirming the validity of someone’s profession of faith (Matt. 16:19, 18:18). The church looks at a person’s life, hears their explanation of the gospel and how they came to believe it, and says, “You look like a Christian to us. So join us. Watch over our lives and we’ll watch over yours.” So, while membership in a church doesn’t guarantee that someone is a Christian, it should assure believers of the genuineness of their faith.
- Evangelize the world. We can preach the gospel to our community and the world much better together than we can apart. Not only that, but as we covenant with other Christians to love, encourage and admonish one another, we display a living, breathing image of the gospel to the world.
- Expose false gospels. As the members of a church support and submit to its teaching, they collectively say, “This is the truth! World, pay attention!” and their unity in doing so works to expose corruptions and imitations of the true gospel.
- Edify the church. When we join a local church we let the pastors and other members of that church know that we intend to attend regularly, give faithfully, pray for the church, and serve the church as we have opportunity. We allow fellow believers to have greater expectations of us in these areas, and we hold them responsible in these ways as well. So join a church in order to build it up (Eph. 4:11-16). You can do far more to build up the church as a committed member than as a detached, autonomous attender. And it will do good to your own soul as well.
- Glorify God. Jesus told his disciples, “A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so 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, NIV). We testify to the world about what God is like by how we love one another—and a committed, persevering, accountable love is a far greater picture of God’s love than a picky-and-choosy, I’ll-only-be-involved-with-the-people-I-want kind of “love.” By committing to one another as members of the same church we display the glory of God’s love—a committed, persevering, transforming love—as we image it in our lives together, and so bring him glory.
(Some of this material has been adapted from Nine Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever, pages 151-159)