Church membership provides the Christian with a number of blessings, such as providing spiritual accountability, connecting you more intimately with the body of Christ, and opening up greater opportunities to serve and be served.
But joining a church should not be only about what you will gain. As in any relationship, church membership also brings with it a number of important responsibilities and expectations.
This list is not exhaustive, but here are 8 important responsibilities that church members have:
The expectation is not that church members will never miss a Sunday or that they will be a part of every single church function. There are times when you won’t be able to be at a worship service and you can’t be involved in every ministry.
However, it should be expected that members will prioritize corporate worship with their church family (Hebrews 10:24-25; Acts 2:42). We are commanded not to forsake the gathering of God’s people, and this regularly gathering together with one another is a vital means of deepening our relationships.
It is essential that the church be united in prayer, seeking God’s blessing on the work of the church and the Gospel’s impact in your congregation, your community, and beyond (1 Thessalonians 5:17; Romans 12:12; Colossians 4:2).
When you become a member of a church, you should commit yourself to praying for your church’s ministries, its leadership, and its people regularly.
There are many ways to develop relationships with others in the church. Whether you are involved in a ministry team, small group, Bible study, or other group we are called to develop close relationships with others so that you may encourage one another, pray for one another, build one another up, and hold one another accountable as followers of Christ.
There is a reason that many of the metaphors in Scripture about the life of the church reveal that we are many members of one body. While our faith is personal, it isn’t meant to be private. We should live as a community of believers. Don’t run the Christian race alone!
Church members are called to submit to the church’s leadership and teaching. Hebrews 13:17 says “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”
Does this mean that we give blind allegiance even when pastors and elders fail to lead and teach biblically? Of course not.
What it does mean, however, is that we are called to support, pray for, and adhere to the spiritual authority of those appointed to positions of church leadership. Church members can either be a challenge for a pastor or a blessing. Choose to be a blessing.
Jesus said “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). All believers are tasked with preserving the peace and unity of the body, overlooking offenses when appropriate (Proverbs 19:11), bearing with and forgiving one another (Colossians 3:12-14), and pursue biblical and God-honoring peacemaking when conflicts arise. Quarrelling, gossip, and divisiveness should not mark the life of the believer. Instead, make a point to not only avoid division but to actively work towards preserving unity.
Our love for the Lord should manifest itself in every area of our lives, including how we make use of the finances He has entrusted to us. Members are to contribute, as the Lord directs, to the financial support of the church and its ministries (1 Corinthians 16:2; 2 Corinthians 9:7). While the New Testament does not specify an amount we should give, it does provide principles for us to follow. In short, we should give regularly, generously, and sacrificially to the work of the Lord.
Each of us has been given the ability and the command to serve the Lord in some capacity. Members should eagerly find a place where they can serve and make use of their spiritual gifts for the good of others (Romans 12:1; Ephesians 4:11-13). Don’t bury your talent in the ground! Use it to benefit God’s people, reach the lost, and glorify the Lord.
While there is a lot of talk about discovering your unique spiritual giftedness, there is a lot to be said for finding areas that need help and stepping up to serve. You can discover where you do the most good along the way.
The life of the Christian should be marked by an increase in Christlikeness and victory over sin. While we will never be free from sin on this side of eternity, we are called to fight sin and pursue Christ wholeheartedly in this life (Romans 12:2).
Regular Bible reading, prayer, and worship should be made an ultimate priority. Just as an injured foot can impact your entire body, so too can weakness in one member impact the entire church body. Be diligent in the spiritual disciplines and make pursuing Christ in everyday life a top priority, every day.
Therefore, church membership does not involve an expectation to live perfectly. Rather, church membership is a commitment to worship and minister in a body of believers where the members covenant together to hold each other accountable to pursue obedience to what Scripture teaches.
The pursuit of obedience is not the same as perfection. It will involve failure and confession on a regular basis. The mark of a true Christian, and the mark of a church member in good standing, is not perfection, but the persistent fight of faith that recognizes sin as sin, confesses it, and turns from it in new resolves of holiness again and again.