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First Thoughts

Caring for Others Through Church Membership 

One of the marks of saving faith is a deep love for others. And love always manifests itself in action. If I love someone, I am compelled to care for them not just in word, but also in deed. Galatians 6:10 says, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” 

Our lives present us with thousands of opportunities to do good to others. There are so many people out there who need help, who I can serve, who I can care for. Where do I start? Well, Paul says we should do good to everyone, but he then focuses us in on a particular group of people to prioritize — the church. 

Why the emphasis and priority on church members over outsiders? One reason is because this pattern of doing good first to the church reflects God’s special love towards us. God has saved the church. He shares all good things with his people, the Bride of Christ. He gives us the riches of glory in Christ Jesus. He still gives breath to unbelievers, but he withholds spiritual blessings and eternal life from them. When we care for our Christian brothers and sisters first, we paint a picture to the world of God and his church.  

God, in his kindness, calls us to live in covenant community with one another, being devoted to one another as the days grow darker (Hebrews 10:24-25). People are hurting and in need of love and hope in these turbulent times, and the church of Jesus Christ provides a place of stability and unity. One of the best ways you can show love to the hurting is by joining a local church in membership. Church membership is vital both for living the Christian life and for loving our brothers and sisters in Christ. I want to give you two reasons why church membership is a crucial way we can do good and care for one another in the household of faith. 

Provides Fellowship 

We see a model of church membership in the early days of the church. In Acts 2, Peter preaches a sermon in the power of the Holy Spirit that led to the founding of the first megachurch! In Acts 2:41, the text says, “Those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” The fact that the church counted the numbers and made a list of all those who were saved and baptized implies that the early church kept good records for membership. And the Bible tells us the qualifications for joining the church. People became church members when they believed the gospel of Jesus Christ and were baptized.  

But then, what do those church members do? Immediately in the next verse, they “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42). People from all over the world, from dozens of different cultures and backgrounds (Acts 2:8-11) came together because they were united by faith in Christ. The fellowship they had because of their shared experience of salvation by the blood of Christ broke down barriers and created the deepest of relationships (Ephesians 2:14-15). 

When we are united together through faith in Jesus and baptism, we have a deep, eternal fellowship with church members. Through this fellowship, Christians can step into one another’s lives and show genuine care to others in a way that far surpasses anything the world has to offer.  

Preserves Unity 

Not only are we united initially by faith, but church membership is also all about keeping us together, both in our doctrine and in our Christian walks. How is that so? 

When you join a church, you aren’t just signing up for a club. You’re making commitments to others and making certain statements about who you are and what you believe. Membership becomes a shorthand way to answer questions like “What does this person believe about Jesus and the Bible?” and “Does this person have the same doctrinal convictions as me?” This is so helpful when another member stumbles into sin. 1 John 1:7 says, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” When someone walks in darkness, our fellowship is disrupted. And the Bible says we must restore them in a spirit of gentleness (Galatians 6:1). We can lovingly confront them, not to chastise them, but to call them to repentance and repair our fellowship. 

Ephesians 4:3-6 says we should be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Church membership preserves our unity as we rally around Jesus and his Word to care for one another. 

So, Christian, don’t take your church membership for granted. Rejoice that God has brought you inside the doors of the church and into the unified fellowship of other believers. And then pour your heart and soul into loving the members of your church just like God has loved you in his Son Jesus. 

Serve Pastor

Austin Collins (M.Div., The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is the Serve Pastor at First Baptist Church.

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