By Michael Roop
What comes into your mind when you hear the word membership? Insider deals and exclusive access? Monthly dues? Country clubs and gyms?
Above all else, wherever this word is used, it offers an opportunity to belong. And isn’t that what we all desire? I would argue that it’s a need our Creator wove into the very fabric of our beings– the need to belong, to be fully known and fully accepted by a community of people.
And yet, when the idea of membership is applied to the local church, why are we tempted to run for the hills? Most likely, it has to do with a movement within Western, particularly American, Christianity that is just over two generations old.
Jesus and Me
It’s called, among other names, the “Jesus and Me” movement. The idea is simple: all I really need is Jesus, so following Jesus requires little more than a Bible (if that), some good worship music, and a podcast here and there. After all, hasn’t the church hurt so many of its people over the years?
While the answer to that question is an undeniable “yes,” the Jesus and Me movement makes a critical error: it doesn’t account for the main metaphors that describe the church which we find in Scripture.
Body, Building, and Bride
Consider this with me. When the authors of the New Testament use common experiences to describe the church, they tend to use one of three metaphors: the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12), the Temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 1, 6), and the Bride of Christ (Ephesians 5 and Revelation 19). So let’s explore those metaphors.
Imagine you’re driving along, or walking in your neighborhood or in a park, and looking down you see a human thumb laying on the ground. Would that not be a jarring sight? Such is the lone Christian in the eyes of the New Testament. Not only is the thumb cut off and dying, but its body is impoverished by its absence!
Or imagine you see a beautiful building, like Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, but an enormous chunk of the facade is missing. Would that not be a jarring sight? Such is the lone Christian in the eyes of the New Testament. Not only is that chunk of wall useless on its own, but the structure where it belongs is weaker by its absence!
As a married man, this third one gets me. Imagine, if you’re married, that someone wants to be your best friend, but they don’t really want to have anything to do with your spouse. Would you consider that person your friend? Can I be in good relationship with someone who doesn’t like my wife, or wants to pretend she doesn’t exist?
Our Communal Needs
God clearly designed us for community. We need each other, and the New Testament tells us exactly why. In 1 Peter 5, Peter tells us, “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” We all know how lions hunt. They separate the prey from its herd. The lone Christian makes themselves easy prey for our adversary.
Beyond just that, we need to be encouraged to continue pursuing a life that is consistent with our calling! In Hebrews 10:24, the commands tells us, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another…”
The image here is off a horseback rider using the spurs in her boots to compel the horse forward. In the same way, we need a community of believers to come around us and encourage us forward in good works.
Membership at Creekside
At Creekside, we believe the best relationships come with commitment and clear expectations. To learn more about what we expect of our members, and what our members should expect from us in return, you can visit the membership page on our website.
If you or someone you know isn’t a member but might be interested, RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org for our Welcome to the Family Class, starting October 20 during the 9 AM hour on Sundays. This class will tell you everything you need to know about Creekside and how to become a member.
I believe that God’s commands are not just an objective set of rules for us to follow, but represent His character and His design for creation. In other words, they are for our good, even and especially when we don’t understand why.
So let me encourage you to press into membership as we together pursue the glory of God!