are good and maybe getting better at talking about the Christian mind, the
Christian heart, even the Christian hands and feet. We want to think, feel, and
act as Christians.
about the skeleton? No one really talks about that. If a skeleton holds things
together, what is the structure that holds the Christian life together and
gives it its shape?
The thing is, you can (sort of) exercise the Christian
head, heart, and hands all by yourself. But when you start to consider what the
Bible says about the structure of the Christian life—what I’m calling the
skeleton—you find that it necessarily involves other people. And I mean other
people in an authoritative capacity.
authorized the congregation and its leaders to act with authority in our lives.
That’s not a popular idea among Westerners, but this is the skeleton which
keeps the body, otherwise healthy, from slouching to the floor. It’s the bowl
which keeps the soup from spilling everywhere. Looking across the evangelical
landscape, do you know what I see? A lot of splattered soup. Oh, it’s tasty
soup, but it has nothing to contain it and the dogs have been licking it up for
of this: consider the stereotypical evangelical youth group. You get gospel
teaching. Sometimes gospel worldview formation. Sincere professions. And
heart-felt worship. But there’s little formal accountability, structure, and
discipline because the group is not a part of the church. Result: the kids go
to college and the majority abandon the faith or at least live like they have.
You can see the splatter.
problem is, how many churches operate this way?
brings us to this episode of the 9Marks’ “Polity is Kool Show.” Today we turn
to the theme of church membership. And, boy, do we have a show for you. Several
brothers give us a biblical, historical, and sociological look. Several more of
us consider the importance of membership. And then a few more offer wise
pastoral advice on implementing membership in your church.
watch out early next year for a new 9Marks book on membership for your leaders
MEMBERSHIP IN THE BIBLE AND HISTORY
Is Church Membership Biblical?
Is church membership a matter of personal preference or biblical obedience? Matt Chandler says the latter.
By Matt Chandler
Joining a Church the Ancient Way: From Clement to Egeria
In the ealiest days of Christianity, people joined the church through catechism, creed, and baptism - in that order. This professor suggests they still should today.
By Michael A.G. Haykin
Church Membership and Contextualization
How do we formulate a contextually-sensitive doctrine of local church membership? By giving attention to biblical universals and cultural particulars.
By Ed Roberts
Book Review: The Church and the Surprising Offense of God's Love, by Jonathan Leeman
Reviewed by Tim Chester
DOES MEMBERSHIP MATTER?
Meaningless Membership: A Southern Baptist Perspective
What do you get when your denomination has 10 million absentee church members? Sadly, a lot of false assurance, a dilluted witness, and some really ugly members' meetings.
By Al Jackson
Twelve Reasons Why Membership Matters
Church membership is a bigger deal than you might think it is. Here are twelve reasons why.
By Jonathan Leeman
MEMBERSHIP INSTRUCTION FOR PASTORS
Implementing Membership in an Existing Church
When this pastor first arrived at his church, he says, we didn't know who "we" were. Here are some lessons they learned as they established church membership.
By John Folmar
Implementing Membership in a Church Plant
When should a church plant introduce membership? And why church planters care to institute formal church membership in the first place?
By Mike McKinley
Moving Attenders to Members
How should we help people understand the necessity and joy of belonging to a local assembly of believers? Here are six suggestions.
By Thabiti Anyabwile
What does the Regulative Principle Require of Church Members?
Since church members are a "captive audience," church leaders may only require of them what Scripture requires. The regulative principle is not a limiter but the great emancipator of the Christian life.
By Terry Johnson
From the Archives: Cleaning Up the Rolls
By Matt Schmucker
Resources on Membership
Q&A's, audio resources, free membership class materials, and more on church membership.
The Two Kingdoms and the Natural Law
with David VanDrunen
Mark Dever asks David VanDrunen for a tutorial on the complex but important topic of a church's role in political society.
Posted May 1, 2011
Culture of Discipling
with Mark Dever
Mark Dever explains why he prioritizes building relationships like he does--in the church, between Christians, and among pastors.
Posted on March 1, 2011