Committing to membership @chapelhillbible is more than just a commitment to our church. It’s a declaration of citizenship in Christ’s kingdom. It’s a passport. It’s an announcement made in the pressroom of Christ’s kingdom. It’s the declaration that a professing individual is an official, licensed, card-carrying, bona fide Jesus representative.
More concretely, church membership is a formal relationship between a local church and a Christian characterized by the church’s affirmation and oversight of a Christian’s discipleship and the Christian’s submission to living out his or her discipleship in the care of the church.
Notice that several elements are present:
The church body says to the individual, “We recognize your profession of faith, baptism, and discipleship to Christ as valid. Therefore, we publicly affirm and acknowledge you before the nations as belonging to Christ, and we extend the oversight of our fellowship.” Principally, the individual says to the church body, “Insofar as I recognize you as a faithful, gospel-declaring church, I submit my presence and my discipleship to your love and oversight.”
Church membership, in other words, is not about “additional requirements.” It’s about a church taking specific responsibility for a Christian, and a Christian for a church. It’s about “putting on,” “embodying,” “living out,” and “making concrete” our membership in Christ’s universal body. In some ways, the union which constitutes a local church and its members is like the “I do” of a marriage ceremony, which is why some refer to church membership as a “covenant.”