Why Join a Church

2. The Good of Others

This is perhaps the most often overlooked reason for joining a church. In our proclivity to self-focus, we consider the reasons relating directly to us, but overlook how our membership relates to others.

Our belonging somewhere establishes a base from which we can reliably care for others. There are two sides to church membership, and we can’t keep others accountable for their good to a covenant we ourselves haven’t taken.

True love is not only manifest in affection and action, but also allegiance. We do not fully love our brothers and sisters in Christ if we withhold pledging our allegiance to them by covenanting with them in local-church life. Love doesn’t say, “I love these people and don’t need to covenant with them.” Rather, it says, “I love these people enough to covenant with them.”

Living the Christian life in community is more than just loose associations, but committing to each other to be there for each other when life is hard, in sickness and in sorrow.

3. Your Own Good

On the flip side, it is for your own good to have others committed to genuinely caring for you in Christ. And the people who will care for you best in the long run are those who are willing to commit to it.

“The people who will care for you best in the long run are those who are willing to commit to it.”

Joining the church also formally identifies you as part of “the flock,” which the church’s pastors and elders should “shepherd” (1 Peter 5:2). It is for your own good to be intentionally thought of and cared for by the leadership.

4. The Good of Your Leaders

Connected, then, is the clarity it brings the leadership about who is in their “lot,” who is “in their charge” (1 Peter 5:3), who in particular are they called to serve and shepherd.

In other words, your formally joining the church helps the pastors and elders do their job. How are they to shepherd the flock if they don’t know who is in that flock and who is not?

It is difficult, if not impossible, to respect and esteem your leaders (1 Thessalonians 5:12–13), without identifying yourself to them and submitting to the membership structure that allows them to know and care best for those in their charge.

5. The Good of Unbelievers

Another good reason for joining a church is the good of those who are not there yet—even those who don’t yet know Jesus. Because we reach out and show Christ better as part of a committed, stable community. “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

A lone-ranger Christian doesn’t make the best witness for Christ. Rather, someone who is grounded, has a home,and is part of a solid covenant community of support is best prepared to draw others into the kingdom.

Community is increasingly important in out witness today. As Christians who are truly faithful to the voice of Christ find themselves more and more in the minority of society, we need other believers to point to, that we’re not alone in our seemingly strange views, both in history and today. And the whole community together serves to put Christ on display better than individual Christians alone.

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David Mathis
David Mathis (@davidcmathis) is executive editor at desiringGod.org and an elder at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis. He has edited several books, including Thinking. Loving. Doing., Finish the Mission, and Acting the Miracle, and is co-author of How to Stay Christian in Seminary.