Is the Christian life something that can be lived in isolation? Does Jesus save people from the judgment that was hanging over them on account of their sin, in order that they might serve as an individual, isolated lights of His grace? Or, does He save individuals and call them to live in unity with other individuals in order that they might present one, unified, light of His grace as a testimony to the world?
While it may be an American ideal to stand as an individual and live a life free from dependance on anyone else, it is not a Scriptural ideal. It is not our love for our independence that will cause the world to take notice, it is our love for one another in Christ (John 13:34-35). We are all parts of one body; we are not whole on our own but interdependent on one another (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).
Why church membership? Because life in the Spirit is life in community. We willingly, joyfully, join with other believers with whom we have agreement in the aspects of faith and practice that are necessary to have unity in worship. We join with others with whom we commit to serve and who commit to serve us. We join with others who we are confident will not let us stumble and fall, but who will hold us accountable and even rescue us from the fire (Jude 20-25). Church membership is a mechanism by which we follow our Lord’s command and bind or loose on earth (Matthew 18:15-20).
Why church membership? Because we are all members of one body if we are in Christ. Because there is much benefit in recognizing who we are doing life with. Because we recognize that without a great measure of unity in faith and practice we will not be able to freely and effectively worship together or reach the community effectively.
We join with one another, in the local body of Christ, in church membership, because we believe that this is in keeping with the principles laid out in Scripture concerning God’s will for Christ’s bride.
Why church membership? For the glory of God and the advancement of His kingdom.