Why Join a Local Church?

Why join a local church?

Many Christians believe they don’t need to join a local church.

They might say they are part of the universal church.

This is true for all Christians. But the Bible gives several reasons to join a local church:

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Identification with Jesus Christ

(Romans 6:3-4; 1 Corinthians 11:17-34; Galatians 3:27)

Membership lets us tell apart Christians from unbelievers via baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Members of our church have to have been baptized as believers. Partakers of the Lord’s Supper need to be believers.

Church discipline

(1 Corinthians 5:12-13)

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In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul told the church at Corinth how to discipline a church member who was caught in grievous sin. He instructs the church to judge its own members but let God judge those outside the church.

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Submitting to church leaders

(Hebrews 13:17)

Hebrews 13:17 instructs Christians to submit to leaders in the church. But unless you have a local church, how can you submit to these leaders? For non-church members, following God’s command here is impossible.

Church leaders must give an account for you

(Hebrews 13:17)

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Church leaders have to give an account to God for how they cared for you. Hebrews 13:17 points this out. How can they do this for you if you are not a member of a church, under the care of any elders?

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Church membership rolls are Biblical

(Acts 2:37-47)

Acts 2:37-47 reports that the local church tracked their church growth after thousands of people who were saved at the day of Pentecost.

Exercising your spiritual gifts

(1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12)

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Local churches provide the primary environment for you to exercise your spiritual gifts. 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12 lay out spiritual gifts, such as preaching and teaching, exhortation, and mercy. The local church provides the environment for these to be practiced.

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Church life helps us to be more like Jesus Christ

(Romans 12:11-16)

A local church is not a perfect place full of perfect people. Matt Chandler wrote, “For instance, as I interact with others in my own local body, my own slothfulness in zeal is exposed, as is my lack of patience, my prayerlessness, and my hesitancy to associate with the lowly. Yet this interaction also gives me the opportunity to be lovingly confronted by brothers and sisters who are in the trenches with me, as well as a safe place to confess and repent.”

Related resources

  1. A sermon series on church membership is on our Sermons page. One of these messages is about the need to commit to a local church.
  2. Answers to common questions about church membership, via 9 Marks.
  3. Matt Chandler’s article, Is church membership Biblical?”, from the Resurgence.
  4. “How Important Is Church Membership?”, a sermon by John Piper.