For an annual fee, you can be a member of your community recreational center, where you have access to its exercise equipment and swimming pool. If you choose never to visit the building, it's no problem. You can sit at home and eat ice cream all day and never get your membership revoked. So long as you pay your dues, you are a member.
Similarly, you can be a member of a book club or a music club that offers great deals on books or CDs. Club mailings say you are under no obligation to buy anything; you can return a book or CD at any time and cancel your membership.
In such a cultural setting, it is not surprising that membership in a local church has also become non-demanding. One congregation discovered that, on average, only 70 of its 233 members attended church worship. The church leadership is partly responsible for this easy membership by not upholding biblical standards and discipline. So are people's views of the church. Some people treat the church like a museum that preserves memories and artifacts from the past, to be revisited from time to time. Others go to church as if it were a shopping mall, where you can find programs and services that meet the needs of you or your family.
Paul reminds us in Ephesians 4:10-16 that membership in the church is all about Christ. We will focus our attention on five areas of marks: Christ's Word, His person, His people, His cause, and His image. We will examine what it means to be a faithful member of the body of Christ in each of these areas in the (1) personal, (2) public, and (3) practical dimensions of our lives. Thus, we will take a look at fifteen characteristics of a faithful church member.
Each section is followed by a series of Bible Study questions to enable the reader to take part actively in the text.
Table of Contents:
Mark One: Receiving Christ's Word
Mark Two: Union with Christ's person
Mark Three: Connected to Christ's people
Mark Four: Serving others for Christ
Mark Five: Growing into Christ's image
Be faithful to Christ and his body
Joel R. Beeke is president of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, a minister of the Heritage Netherlands Reformed Congregation in Grand Rapids, Michigan, as well as an international conference speaker and author of numerous books.
‘This concise account of what it means to be a faithful church member is exactly on target. All of us (yes, you too) need to see God's central design for our lives as including "church." Too often, the church is a Cinderella figure: ignored and forgotten. Dr. Beeke's summary will challenge all who read it to both reflection and repentance. Essential reading.'
Derek W. H. Thomas Ph.D. Minister of Preaching and Teaching, First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, SC
‘This is an enriching study of what it means to be in membership of the church. Joel Beeke's careful, Bible based study of this important theme will go a long way to addressing the prevalent culture of casual church membership, and will be a useful resource both for current and prospective members who want to be serious about their commitment to Christ.' - Iain Campbell
‘I am delighted to commend this short but very relevant booklet of Dr Beeke on the duties and privileges of church membership. If these principles are taken to heart they will revolutionise the attitude of modern Christians to the real meaning of church membership and could lead to the revival which we should all be praying for.' - Maurice Roberts