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You are already in the Church if you are born again. I mean the Universal Church which is the Body of Christ. The Holy Spirit has baptized you or inducted you into Christ's Body (1 Cor 12:13). All believers are members of this Body (1 Cor 12:27). But what is universal must be expressed locally. In the beginning of the Church age, which commenced at Pentecost, there was only one Church for each locality. We read of the Church at Corinth, the Church at Ephesus and so on. On the other hand, while speaking about provinces, we read of Churches in plural: Churches in Galatia, Churches in Asia and so on. But today the condition is quite different. There are several Churches even in one street. These are denominations or divided units. Because of this complex nature of the situation it is not possible to give an easy answer to this question. Let me however offer certain guidelines— ✿ Our primary calling is to worship the Lord. Join a group of Christians who worship the Lord not ceremonially but in spirit and in truth (Jn 4:23,24). ✿ It is written about the early believers that "they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine" (Acts 2:42). Choose an assembly where the Bible is believed to be the Word of God, faithfully preached and taught. If the pastor is a modernist or a liberal, you are signing your own death warrant if you join that Church. ✿ The Church is a fellowship. It is a family (Psa 133). Become a member of a Church where the members freely relate to one another, share in joy and sorrow, exhort one another and help to grow (1 Jn 1:7; 1 Cor 12:26; Heb 3:13; Eph 4:15,16). ✿ The Church exists for one purpose and that is to reach a lost world for Christ. Be a part of a local Church which keeps missionary evangelism as its priority number one (Mt 28:18-20). Every local Church has its plus points and failures, and so don't go in search of a "perfect" Church. "Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things!" (2 Tim 2:7).
In response to the person who asked about his/her church requiring membership prior to serving in certain capacities, some churches just want to be sure that those serving, say as greeters who meet the public, understand and accept the church's position on certain Biblical principles. Perhaps church membership entails understanding the mission statement of the church and agreeing to it. There is NO Biblical requirement to belong to any particular church since every believer is a part of the body of Christ, the only true church. However, a physical church has the right to "screen," if you will, those people who essentially represent it to make sure they correctly convey the doctrine to which that church subscribes.
It is biblical for a believer to identify with and belong to a local assembly of believers. Believers were often identified with the home churches where the met. It is also a basis for spiritual communion by which we honor the Lord as a congregation of saints and celebrate the Table (1 Cor. 11:23-34). Believers should therefore belong to a local assembly setting, even as we all belong to the wider communion of God's people in the wider expressions including fellowships, cell groups and other gatherings of saints including under this forum where we operate under biblical principles and rules and acknowledge and edify each in Christ, and hence we manifest several aspects of a church communion! The Bible does not specifically require that church assemblies should maintain a membership roll but some church communities have found this method a useful way of identifying genuine communicants. Where a register is kept, each member is assigned a number according to the order of their admission to the communion. This is in order, in my view, but we need to remind ourselves that there is another register in heaven, kept by God, and that entry into a church membership register does not in itself confer or guarantee one a ticket to heaven! Only a saving faith in Christ and obedient living does.We must each work out our salvation with fear and trembling! Other churches especially Baptists do not use any registers at all but simply admit their members through biblical church rites of baptism and communion. Perhaps the relevant question to ask here is this: can a believer simply lead a private Christian life, not belonging to any specific church assembly? Is "nomadic" Christianity consistent with biblical teaching? The decision to live a "lone ranger" way is now a common feature in some Western church communities where spirituality is considered a private affair. Such an approach, in my view, is an unbiblical and impracticable way to live one's faith in many respects. First, it may also be evidence of spiritual immaturity or an unresolved internal spiritual conflict that the believer could be undergoing and has opted to keep away from the church fellowship. Secondly, such a believer lacks a spiritual accountability platform and this may endanger their standing in Christ. They cannot be effectively taught in a consistent way. Scripture exhorts us not to neglect the gathering together of saints (Hebrews 10:25) Thirdly, they lack an effective platform for exercising their spiritual gifts for the benefit of the church community and to the glory of God. Spiritual gifts are intended to edify the church and cannot be reduced withdrawn at will. For instance if as a bible teacher I withdraw from my church or hop around from one church to another, how will my gift benefit the saints? Where is the consistency in my teaching ministry? (ref. Ephesians 4:11-14). The worst option is for the believer to simply become a "pew Christian" who attends church when and if he wishes and is not engaged in any church group beside attending church on Sunday. The danger here is that he will remain spiritually weak and can easily draw back from the practice of his faith. Fourthly, the believer may have difficulty whenever he requires some reference from a church minister. If he does not belong to a specific church assembly, who will endorse him? My conclusion is that every believer should belong to a Bible-believing congregation where he or she is identified, nourished, edified and cared for by a team of ministers and elders. [Read Acts 4:32-35; 1Cor. 12]
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