The Essence of Church Membership

By Pastor Mark Tanious

Hebrews 10:25. Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

It is wise and healthy for a church to continually reflect on why we do what we do. This is because it is so easy to lose sight of our core mission. This week, we have been thinking about what it means to be a church member and how church membership supports our mission.

As I said on Sunday, there is no chapter or verse that commands us to have church membership. But, that’s not because church membership is ignored in the New Testament, but because it is assumed. When you consider the dozens of “one another” commands (i.e. pray for one another, warn one another, submit to one another), you realize that most of those are impossible to do without some kind of commitment.

Church membership at its core is a commitment to follow the commands of Scripture with a certain group of people. I would submit that making such a commitment is critical for our spiritual growth. I know the word “commitment” is not popular. That’s partly because it implies sacrifice, selflessness, and patience. Those aren’t the most sought after virtues today. But, they powerfully reflect the life and teaching of Jesus.

The essence of church membership is committed love. It is a commitment to love others in deep and meaningful ways. It is a commitment to say hard things, forgive hard things, and endure hard things. It’s a commitment to seek the interests of others before our own (Philippians 2:1-11). The beauty of this kind of love is that it is contagious and missional. Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). Our love for fellow church members displays our love for Jesus to the world.

When you become a member of a church, you are not just saying, I will love these people, but I will make a public commitment to love these people. Even when it’s hard and even when it hurts. Becoming a church member also means committing to a group of spiritual leaders and entrusting yourself to their care (Hebrews 13:17). All of this is meant to display for the world that the church is not just a congregation, but a family.

I have included a picture showing what this looks like in a church.

Pastors provide oversight for each member and their spiritual growth while members submit to their pastors. A congregation affirms pastors while pastors commit to equipping and shepherding the congregation. Members commit to keeping each other accountable as they love and encourage one another (this includes pastors as members too!). This is exactly what Hebrews 10:24-25 talks about. Meeting with one another regularly so we can stir one another up to become more like Jesus.


That’s the goal of church membership. Becoming more like Jesus through committed love to other followers of Jesus.