What is My Responsibility When I Become a Church Member?

What is Most Important?

Disciple-making is the primary imperative of a local church and part of that command includes baptism. Baptism, in this context, involves more than placing a person in water. The true meaning of baptism is identifying the person with Christ. First the Christian is identified with Christ as he died, was buried, and then rose again from the dead.

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. – Romans 6:4-5

Only after a person is saved (which means he has been identified with the death and resurrection of Christ) can they, with any significance, partake of water baptism. Just as we are identified with the Body of Christ in his death on the cross, so we should be identified with the Body of Christ in baptism.

Paul identified “the church… which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (Eph. 1:22-23).

Again the church is called his body (1 Cor. 12:25). Water baptism is an act of identifying the convert also with a local body of believers, since the church is an organized assembly (body) of believers with the responsibility of evangelizing the unsaved, educating Christians, worshiping God, and administering the ordinances. Identifying with the church carries with it a fourfold obligation.

What else is involved in being a church member?

Practice Biblical Discipline

When a believer identifies with the church, he places himself under the discipline of the Word of God. The preaching or prophesying of the Word of God includes “upbuilding and encouragement and consolation,” (1 Cor. 14:3).

For most people, placing themselves under the discipline of the Word of God will involve regular attendance at the preaching services and participation in some kind of consistent Bible study, such as Sunday school.

Every church should have some kind of Christian education program that has a systematic, comprehensive, and complete coverage of Bible content, doctrine, and life expectation.

Use Your Spiritual Gifts

Another reason people identify with the church is to develop their spiritual gifts. The Holy Spirit has given spiritual gifts to every Christian (1 Cor. 12:11). These gifts were given for the benefit of the church as a whole (1 Cor. 12:14-27).

As every believer has a spiritual gift (1 Cor. 7:7), it is important that they all identify with a church where they can exercise that gift in ministry.

Worship the Lord

A purpose of the New Testament church is to glorify God and help every believer worship God (Luke 24:52-53; John 4:23-24; Acts 2:47). Worship is not an option but an obligation. It is giving to God the worth due him.

Worship is not concerned with the needs of man. It is concerned with magnifying God. Since God wants worship from man individually and corporately (John 4:23-24), it remains the duty of the church to worship him together.

Fellowship With Others

The church is also a place of fellowship. The gospel unites believers of various backgrounds in Christ, thus providing a basis upon which fellowship can occur (Gal. 3:27-28). Biblical fellowship involves a caring for the needs and concerns of one another.

The koinonia is a part of the New Testament Christian experience in the church.

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Dr. Elmer Towns is a college and seminary professor, an author of popular and scholarly works (the editor of two encyclopedias), a popular seminar lecturer, and dedicated worker in Sunday school, and has developed over 20 resource packets for leadership education.His personal education includes a B.S. from Northwestern College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a M.A. from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary also in Dallas, a MRE from Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, and a D.Min. from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.He is co-founder of Liberty University, with Jerry Falwell, in 1971, and was the only full-time teacher in the first year of Liberty’s existence. Today, the University has over 11,400 students on campus with 39,000 in the Distance Learning Program (now Liberty University Online), and he is the Dean of the School of Religion.Dr. Towns has given theological lectures and taught intensive seminars at over 50 theological seminaries in America and abroad. He holds visiting professorship rank in five seminaries. He has written over 2,000 reference and/or popular articles and received six honorary doctoral degrees. Four doctoral dissertations have analyzed his contribution to religious education and evangelism.

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