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What Are the Responsibilities of Church Members?

Define Your Church’s Membership

Church members are responsible to receive and dismiss members. Jesus instructed the church to regard an unrepentant brother as a Gentile and tax collector for refusing to submit to the church’s authority (Matthew 18:15-20). In 1 Corinthians 5:1-13, the Apostle Paul rebuked the Corinthian congregation for tolerating evil in their midst. When they “assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus” as a church, they were to hand the immoral man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh (1 Corinthians 5:4-5).

Together, church members are responsible to define their membership. By receiving new members through baptism or transfer from another church, a local church tells the watching world, “this person is a citizen of God’s kingdom” (cf. Matthew 16:18-19; 18:17-20; 28:18-20). By regularly fellowshipping around the Lord’s table, the members partake of the on-going sign of church membership, while affirming each other’s status as members of the new covenant (1 Corinthians 10:17; 11:23-26).

In cases of discipline, the church effectively testifies that they no longer recognize the one disciplined as a citizen of Christ’s kingdom and member of his body (Matthew 18:15–20). Pastors do not wield this kind of authority alone. The whole church must make these kinds of decisions out of obedience to Christ, for the purity of the church, and to preserve their gospel witness in a fallen world.

Love One Another

“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). Saying that church members are responsible to love one another is almost like saying birds have a responsibility to fly. Affection for God’s people defines our new identity in Christ (1 John 4:7). In the New Testament, love is tangible, active, and expressed through service. Every church member is responsible to fulfill the “one another” passages of the New Testament.

If we take responsibility to love one another, then we’ll actively seek to be discipled and disciple others. In this way, the whole church “builds itself up” in love (Ephesians 4:15-16). We won’t be passive about the church’s unity, but eager to maintain and promote a spirit of unity in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3). We won’t leave wandering members behind, but pursue them for their good (cf. Matthew 18:10-14). We’ll take prayer seriously (1 Thessalonians 5:16; Ephesians 6:18), bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), show hospitality (Romans 12:13), put others’ interests ahead of our own (Philippians 2:4), and seek to develop meaningful relationships.

This kind of ministry isn’t just for pastors. Instead, Jesus has established pastors in his church to equip members to fulfill their responsibility and do the work of the ministry of building up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-12).

Submit to Your Elders

Hebrews 13:17 exhorts Christians to obey their leaders and to submit to them. Elders are a gift from Christ to his church. They are men of character gifted in teaching and applying the Scriptures (1 Timothy 3:1-7). Church members are responsible to obey Jesus by submitting to their elders because the elders keep watch over their souls as those who will give an account (Hebrews 13:17). Obviously, church members should not follow their elders blindly, but insofar as the elders are teaching the Scriptures and leading the church biblically, church members should submit to their wisdom, counsel, and instruction.

Evangelize the Lost

The Great Commission is for every Christian, not just pastors and international missionaries. Jesus has commissioned every church member to “make disciples” (Matthew 28:18-20). As a people reconciled to God, we have a responsibility to announce the message of reconciliation to people separated from Christ, without God, and without hope in the world (2 Corinthians 5:19; Ephesians 2:12). The church is a royal priesthood charged to mediate an authoritative proclamation from God to humanity (1 Peter 2:9). We announce the reign of God in Christ in our public assemblies, and we disperse to proclaim the same truth to a lost world: Christ is King! Repent and believe in him.

Responsibilities of Church Members: Join the Team

No athlete joins a team hoping to sit on the sidelines every practice and game. Church membership is far more important than participating in team sports. But sadly, individualism, consumerism, easy-believism, and unbiblical church polities have left many church members intentionally or unintentionally sidelined.

Are you a church member? Don’t settle for the bench. Jesus calls all of us to get up and get to work.

This article about responsibilities of church members originally appeared here. What would you add to the list of responsibilities of church members?