What are your thoughts on "church membership"? Some say that the concept is not found in Scripture; when you become born again, you automatically become part of the Body of Christ, the Church, so why would you need to join what you already are? What is your Scriptural-based view on this issue?
I think you said it well enough already. Upon salvation you received your Church membership.
I think it is simply a "practical" way for a church to "formally" recognize one another as being in fellowship. Just as in matters of church discipline, in theory, we formally disassociate ourselves from choose not to fellowship with. There are hints of such a practice in the New Testament. Such as in Timothy's "confession" made in the presence of many witnesses, or the apostles acceptance of Paul after his conversion. Biblically speaking, water baptism probably was the primary way you were formally recognized in the early church. But back in those days, you probably spent most of your life in the same city, and you only had one church per city. People weren't as transient as they are today, and you wouldn't have ever had need to apply to being accepted as a member of a church, as you would have likely spent most of your life in the same congregation.
As I understand it, it's to protect that particular Church. In most cases, members are permitted to vote on the direction that Church could go. They're trusted to teach the children, etc. etc.. Not all Churches do it this way, but the one I'm familiar with has a series of classes on the foundational doctrines and while attending them, the Q&A's bring a lot out of what the candidate for membership of that particular Church believes and about their character. Next the candidate individually sits with the elders and deacons and gives their testimony and there's prayer and some good fellowship with them and then the hug of welcome. It's not to become a member of The Body of Christ, but to be sure that each member is saved and on the same page with the mission of the Church and able to be trusted with ministry in that Church. When I saw that as the reason, I was more accepting of the practice. It is a safe-guard for individuals and parents to know that everyone ministering or influencing the direction in a Church are truly saved.
Agree it is a safe guard. I have seen churches get turned upside down because of independent radicals stirring the pot only to leave when things don't go their way....I don't say this in a negative way...but there are those who do not have any accountability nor do they subject themselves to any overseer and at times feel they have to radically bring reformation to the church.....another reason church membership is a safe guard
I dont really have a scripture based response, just that I grew up in a church that had no membership and they was no fuss, no muss with backbiting and fighting. Then I move to TN and you gotta join the church you attend, I was told over and over; well the two churches I did join, the pastor used my membership against me with, youre a member of this church, and youve got to stand behind me. If they were behaving right, they wouldnt need anyone to stand behind them. I do not believe that church membership is a God-thing, I believe it was orchestrated by man to control what he thought were his sheep instead of Gods sheep and then they started getting big with handling lots of money, so then they had to control the denomination. But thats just me. My experience has been that God keeps track of who goes where and does what. But its hard for people who have never experienced a membership-free church to understand how blessed an experience that is.God bless,Lisa
I can only speak based on my experience..I'll be specific. In the Calvary Chapel I attended for years they allow anyone to attend services without any formal church membership. They start getting formal and stricter when someone wants to serve in any area of ministry there. They have you fill out forms and interview you and through that process try to discern whether or not you should serve there in that particular area of ministry.I think it was a good way of going about it if you ask me.