The church is the body of saved people (Eph. 5:23). The moment a person is saved they are added by the Lord to His church (Acts 2:47). The act that saves one automatically makes them a part of the body of saved people. However, as individual Christians, we must join ourselves to a faithful local church (Acts 9:26).
A local church is a functioning unit of Christians who have joined themselves together and have made a commitment to carry out the work God has given to the local church (evangelism, edification, limited benevolence). This work will get done, to the greatest extent possible, if every member does their share. If you are a member of a local church (and you should be if you are a Christian), you have responsibilities to that church.
1. Faithful Attendance. Some people look upon church attendance as a trivial thing. This was not the attitude or practice taught in the New Testament. When the saints assembled to worship, every member was expected to be present. “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Heb. 10:24-25).
The word “forsaking” means to abandon, desert, or leave behind. Those who are missing because they are sick, shut-in, called into work, or out of town are not forsaking the assembling of the saints. Those who are tending to an emergency are not forsaking. However, those who are missing for various other reasons likely are forsaking the assembling of the saints.
2. Receive God’s Word. The word of God is to be taught in the assemblies of the church. The early church “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine” (Acts 2:42). When the word is being taught, we are to “lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21). Like the noble-minded Bereans, we are to receive the word with all readiness of heart and search the Scriptures to make sure we are hearing the truth (Acts 17:11). As we grow in our knowledge of God’s word, we will become stronger Christians, which will make us better members of the local church.
3. Contribute to the Work of the Church. Members are expected to support the work of the local church with various personal sacrifices.
We are to contribute our money. The work of evangelism, edification and benevolence often requires money. The church is only authorized to raise these funds through the weekly free-will contributions of the members. We are to lay by in store every first day of the week, giving as we have prospered (1 Cor. 16:2). “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7).
We are also to contribute our time and talents. The local church is made up of different people who have been blessed with different talents and opportunities (Rom. 12:3-8; 1 Cor. 12:12-18; Eph. 4:11-16; 1 Pet. 4:11). We all have something to supply to the work. The member who hides his talent is hindering the work of the church will not be blessed by the Lord (Matt. 25:24-30).
4. Submit to Others. To submit means “to yield to the action, control or power of another or others.” Submission has nothing to do with one’s importance or self-worth. It has to do with voluntarily surrendering or yielding to the will of another. We practice submission in different areas of our lives. In the church we are expected to submit to the will of Christ (Luke 6:46), other members (Eph. 5:21) and the elders (1 Thess. 5:12-13; Heb. 13:17). We need to remember that the local church is not my church, and it is not your church, it is the Lord’s church.
5. Keep the Unity. Unity in the local church is the will of God. Jesus prayed for our unity (John 17:20-21). The apostle Paul pleaded for the members of the church in Corinth not to be divided, but to be “perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10). The Holy Spirit has set forth the grounds upon which this unity is to be established and maintained. However, it is the responsibility of every member to endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3-6).
Membership in the Lord’s church is a great blessing. With great blessings also come great responsibilities. Let’s devote ourselves to fulfilling these responsibilities in a way that brings about the growth of the church to the glory of God. <Heath Rogers>