Should You Join a Local Church?

If you are a Christian, you probably know you should go to church. After all, the first Christians were devoted to getting together (Acts 2:42), and the book of Hebrews actually tells us plainly that we are not to be, “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.” We are supposed to go to church. But join one… where is that in the Bible? Well, the honest answer is that church membership is nowhere commanded, but everywhere implied. In fact, there are several New Testament commands that can’t be obeyed unless you join a church.

If you don’t join a church…

You Can’t Obey Your Leaders

The New Testament letter to the Hebrews says, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you” (Heb 13:17). If you don’t join a church, how do you know who your leaders are? Are they the leaders of the churches nearest to your house? Are they the leaders of the last church you attended? Apparently, Jesus thinks you should obey a group of leaders, and you are supposed to know who they are. Do you? Not only that, but a group of leaders is supposed to be watching over your soul. A particular group of leaders is supposed to be getting great joy from your life? Which leaders are those? You might watch a TV preacher, but he cannot faithfully “watch over” you. The Bible wants you to be in a relationship with one local church where you know the leaders and the leaders can know you. That can’t happen unless you commit to a local church.

“The Christian life is not a life of mere acquaintances; it is a life of living like a family in the context of local church.”

You Can’t Be Held Accountable by a Congregation

Now, you might be thinking, who wants to held accountable by a congregation? You should! That is what Jesus desires for you. In Matthew 18, Jesus gives us a look at what church life should look like, and one of the things he shows us is that the church is characterized by loving accountability. He tells us that when someone sins against us, we should confront them in love, when they keep sinning we should keep pursuing, and when they refuse to listen, He says, “tell it to the church” (Matt. 18:17). In our individualistic age, that may initially sound terrible, but when you have come to see how prone you are to wander from Jesus, it is a wonderful gift to have a church that would lovingly come after you. If you ever wandered from the Lord, which church would care for your soul? If you ever had to pursue another Christian, which church would you eventually tell? If you can’t answer these questions, you probably need to join a church.

You Can’t Experience a lot of the New Testament’s Love and Joy

The Christian life is not a life of mere acquaintances; it is a life of living like a family in the context of local church. The Christian life is a life of joyful love. It is a life of learning to walk like Jesus in, “all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph 4:2–3). Who have you agreed to bear with, even when they are struggling with sin? Who has agreed to bear with you in all of your struggles? If you can’t answer that, maybe you need to join a church.

Who Can Join This Church?

Anyone can! After all, He is building a community from all cultures where Christ is King. Following Him, we invite all people to join this church who shares a common life, a common doctrine, and a common commitment. What does that mean? It means all the members of Immanuel have experienced new life in Christ. We have seen that, without Him, we are sinners, and with Him, we are forgiven sinners who have been given new hearts to love Him. It also means that all of the members also have a common doctrine. We can’t all express it perfectly, but we share a common faith based on the Bible. You can learn more about what we believe at Immanuel on our website. Finally, we all have a common commitment. We are committed to obeying Jesus through the life of this local church as His obedient disciples. Does that describe you? If it does, we would love to have you join us!

You Should Join a Church

We hope this article persuades you to join a local church. But, maybe you have more questions. If you want to think more about this issue, we invite you to talk to one of our pastors. Just email us and we’ll set up a meeting. We hope you’ll be persuaded from the Bible that it’s right to join a local church.

How Do I Join?

First, fill out an application. Then, we’ll set up a meeting for you to meet with one of our Pastors; this will allow them to get to know you, your story, your beliefs, and your commitment. It will also allow you to start getting to know them. After completing a membership interview, you’ll make vows before the congregation, even as they make vows to you. You can find these vows on our website below; hopefully, thinking over them will help you decide if you want to join this local church. We would be delighted if God would lead you to join us at Immanuel so that we can display the Lord Jesus Christ together.

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