Should Christians be members of a church?

The question is whether Christians should be members of a church. There are no scriptures which come out directly and say you must be a “member”. So we have to look at what scriptures DO say.

Most of the letters of the New Testament were written to churches.

1 Corinthians 1:2

To the church of God which is at Corinth

2 Corinthians 1:1

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God which is at Corinth with all the saints who are throughout Achaia:

1 Thessalonians 1:1

Paul and Silvanus and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.

1 Corinthians 16:1

Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also.

1 Thessalonians 2:14

For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews

2 Thessalonians 1:1

Paul and Silvanus and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

2 Corinthians 8:1

Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia

Colossians 4:16

When this letter is read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and you, for your part read my letter that is coming from Laodicea.

Even Philemon was addressed in part to the church that met in his home.

Philemon 1

Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,

To Philemon our beloved brother and fellow worker, and to Apphia our sister, and to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house:

Some churches met in homes.

1 Corinthians 16:19

The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Prisca greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.
People were servants of particular churches.

Romans 16:1

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea;
Philippians 1:1

Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus,To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons:
Acts 20:17

From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church.
James 5:14

Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord;
How can you call the elders of the church when you are sick if you are not part of a church?
There were churches of Gentiles.
Romans 16:4
who for my life risked their own necks, to whom not only do I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles;
Some people were not “of us” meaning not belonging to the church.

1 John 2:19

They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; butthey went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.
We are told to not stop gathering together.
Hebrews 10:25
25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you seethe day drawing near.
People are told to be in subjection to their church leaders. How can you be subject to them if you are not part of a church?
Hebrews 13:17
17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.
People were put out of the church. How can they be put out if they are not members of a church?
Matthew 18:15-17
15 “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
1 Corinthians 5:11-13
 11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? 13 But those who are outside, God judges.Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.

3 John 1:10

For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church.
The assumption of the New Testament is that you will be part of a church. The organization of a church is defined – which would not be necessary if we were not to gather in churches. Church discipline is defined, which would not be required if we were not to gather in churches. We are told to not stop gathering together.
So yes, anyone who follows Christ must be part of a church.

2 Responses

  1. Yes. But exactly which Church ? Does one go to a Church even if it the could be a wrong church Just for the sake of going to Church ? .
    In Christendom on the Catholic side we have Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Armenian. Roman Catholic denominations.
    Then On the protestant side we have thousands of different denominations. All these denominations on both sides say they are the right true church and the rest are wrong and are in heresy. We know from scripture heretics will not inherit the kingdom of God.

    • One must ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ to inherit eternal life (Luke 10:25-28). This is the summary and fulfillment of the Law (Romans 13:10, Galatians 5:14). If we trust Christ, then we have eternal life (John 3:16-18, 3:36; John 11:25-26).

      No church is perfect. Every church has good and bad doctrine or practices. The moment man gets involved, there are problems.

      We must turn to Scripture as the basis for doctrine, church matters, and how we should live our lives.

      Scripture says we need to be led by the Spirit. This would apply to churches led by people led by the Holy Spirit as well. If the church leaders are not led by the Spirit, then they are not of God. If they are not of God, then we need to not attend those churches.

      These are things I look for when I seek a church:
      1) Is the Bible taught form the pulpit?
      2) Is the Spirit present in the church?
      3) Does the worship music lead people to God?
      4) Is scripture taught in bible classes?
      5) Is there ongoing teaching from more mature to less mature (discipling)?
      6) Are the people kind and welcoming?
      7) Are the people there for a social club?
      8) Are the lives of the leaders and church members away from church showing fruit of the Spirit?
      9) Do the people in the church pray?
      10) Are the people authentic?

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