From time to time, I am amazed to learn that an individual who has been an active part of our church for some time is actually not a member of the church. I assumed that because that person was faithful to the services and had been for a good while that he was “on the church roll.” Needless to say having your name on the “church roll” or being a member of a church is not essential to salvation. However, I do believe that every born-again child of God should find a Bible-believing church and join himself to that body of believers.

There are numerous New Testament references that teach this practice, but Scripture tells us in Acts 9:26 that “when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples.” The word “join” means to glue or to stick together. Paul wanted to find that group and to solidly identify himself with that body of believers, not just casually come and go. It was important for Paul to associate and cleave to fellow Christians.

So, why is important to become a member and join a good church? I believe that there are several reasons for its importance.

First, becoming a member of a church proves that you are not ashamed to identify with Christ or His people. Jesus Himself addressed the matter and stressed the importance of not being ashamed of our faith. Joining a church is one of the plainest ways of saying that you are not ashamed to identify with Jesus and other believers.

Shouldn’t we all be willing to identify with those with whom we will share eternity? When a person joins a church, he is making it clear whose side he is on. He is declaring his colors. How believable is our own testimony of the goodness and greatness of Christ if we do not want to identify openly with Christ’ family?

Second, when an individual joins a church, he stops being an independent Christian and places himself under the accountability of other Christians. In Matthew 18, Christ set forth an accountability system for His children. The authority of God’s Word expressly directs Christians to confront one another about sin. It is simply one of God’s ways of reproving and restoring us when we do wrong. If you aren’t part of the church, then it has no authority over you and cannot do as Jesus instructed. Your “independence” places you outside the realm of Christ instruction to the church. The pastor, who is the shepherd of the flock, has no responsibility for you if you have not placed yourself under his biblical jurisdiction. Hebrews 13:17 tells us that the pastor especially is directed to watch over our souls. This requires that I place myself in submission by joining the church of which he is the shepherd. Sadly, that is the very reason why some choose not to join a church. They like the people, enjoy the preaching, and love the fellowship of other believers; however, they wish to remain unaccountable to anyone including the pastor.

Third, joining a church enables you to be an encouragement to others. Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” I believe this passage is talking about more than just being faithful to church. Notice the command to “consider one another” and how it is associated with church commitment. Bear in mind the message you send to other believers, especially new believers, if your level of commitment will not bring you even to a point of church membership. Do they see your example and surmise that church isn’t important to join?

Your attendance and membership also serves to encourage the Pastor and his staff. I have been married to my wife for 28 years. Suppose after a lengthy courtship, I told her that I loved her, but I never proposed to her? After years of dating one another, she would probably have asked me, “Why have you not wanted to marry me?” It would have been a legitimate question. I could have responded, “Honey, I’m just trying to make sure.” How do you think that would have made her feel? Of course she would be glad that I loved her and cared for her. She would enjoy our times together, and it would make her feel special when I would tell her I loved her. But in the end, how discouraging would it have been if I did not love her enough to make a decisive commitment?

Similarly, not only are other members of the church encouraged when folks make a church commitment, the Pastor is encouraged just as well. Your membership says to him that you love this group of believers and that the pastor has provided you with a biblical ministry worthy of your commitment. It encourages him that what he is doing is right and that God is blessing his efforts.

Church membership is a vital part of a Christian’s growth and walk with the Lord. It is not to be shunned, ignored, or taken lightly. It is a part of God’s plan for us as we exhort, encourage, and consider one another. It is a commitment that God honors in an individual’s life but also uses to encourage others in the building of His kingdom.