Why is carefully practicing church membership and discipline critical to the growth of the saints and the evangelism of the church?
Why Church Membership Is Important
The aim of the church is to advance the Gospel of Jesus Christ by pursuing people to believe in Jesus and turn to Him for salvation. When a person believes in Jesus Christ and repents from their old way of living, he or she becomes a part of the family, fellowship and body of Christ.
Committing to a local church is the natural outcome of salvation in Christ—it confirms what God has done in a person’s life. Therefore, a church must practice membership and discipline if they are going to disciple believers or reach those who do not yet believe. The world would have no way of knowing who and where the people of God are without marking off those who are Christ’s as members of His family through the firm establishment of the church and each individual’s connection to it.
As the corporate church practices membership and discipline, they are exercising their authority to “bind and loose” people to the Gospel based on his or her profession of faith (cf. Matthew 16:18; 18:18) and subsequent obedience to Christ’s commands. Incorporating baptized believers into biblical membership of a church allows for formative and corrective discipleship to happen, which will cause ongoing spiritual growth and effective evangelization.
God cares for the souls of men, and He has laid out a clear mandate for the church to call people to repentance if they have walked away from Him. Some church congregations have made excuses as to why not to perform church discipline, claiming that it is unloving or that they are fearful of getting sued by the disciplined member. Nonetheless, Scripture is clear that church discipline is an important part of edification for the Saints and for preserving our witness.
Why all this talk about church membership and discipline?
The primary biblical reasons for church discipline are: