April 29, 2018 – Today right after our worship service, I am hosting a welcome lunch for people who are new to Calvary East. Over the past few years, we have held a meeting like this every quarter. They give me a good opportunity to introduce people to what we believe and how we go about ministry. As we conclude, I always invite people to complete a membership application.
Some people become members right away, but others delay. A few realize that they do not see eye to eye with us on some doctrinal issue. Some hesitate because of a negative experience at another church. But a lot of people probably just get busy and forget.
Every genuine Christian is a member of Christ’s body from the moment of salvation (1 Cor 12:27). So, why should anyone bother with going through a membership process at a local church? I think the best biblical answer is found in Hebrews 13:17.
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.
Do not misunderstand me here. I do not cite this verse to say, “Do it because we say so.” I do not believe that church leaders can make up arbitrary non-biblical rules and then demand that people obey them because of this verse. I think that this verse calls people to obey church leaders as they teach Scripture. We have no authority beyond that.
I point to Hebrews 13:17 because of the heavy responsibility that it lays upon me and the other leaders at Calvary East. It says that we will have to give an account for how we have kept watch over people’s souls. Then it says, “Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” In other words, do whatever you can to make our job easier.
Becoming a church member makes our job easier. It tells us that you consider Calvary East your church home. It clarifies who we must care for. We try to care for everyone who comes to our gatherings, but some people drift in and out. When you pledge yourself to membership, it removes any doubt. Our lives are tied together.
There are other ways that you can make our job easier. Being in church leadership does not necessarily mean that someone has an outgoing personality. Get to know our leaders and let them get to know you. When you’re making major decisions, seek our advice. When you’re struggling with something, ask us to pray. When you experience some spiritual victory, let us rejoice with you. If you decide at some point that it would be best for you to find a different church home, let us know.
I praise God for the elders and deacons that he has raised up here at Calvary East. They are men who humbly walk with the Lord and care for people. It is a privilege for me to serve alongside them. I encourage you to take full advantage of them according to God’s design for the local church.
If you have never been to a welcome lunch or membership class, join us. If you have been to a welcome lunch, but have misplaced your membership application. Let me know. I would be glad to get you one.
– Bryan Craddock