Deepen Your Connection with the Lord Jesus and His Church via Covenant Partnership
Why Commit to Church?
From Guest to Covenant Partners at mosaicHouse Church
Q: What Does Commitment in a Church Community Mean?
A: To be a member of a church is to make a public promise to live according to the Word and to support the work of the congregation. In the Bible this is called a covenant. Every believer is part of the church as organism (the Spiritual Body of Christ), but only by a public promise can you be part of the church as organization. A public promise, or covenant, is the basis for all society, according to the Bible: marriage, employment, citizenship, church membership, etc. are all relationships of accountability. Membership in a church is not like membership in a social club or other organizations. Most organization members are consumers; the organization exists to serve them. The Church of Christ is a completely different community – membership means ministry and service, going from being a consumer to becoming a provider of God’s love and care to others. At mosaicHouse Church, we take seriously that we are a church not for ourselves, but for others.
Q: Doesn’t ‘church’ in the Bible refer to the Universal Church of Christ?
A: The Bible refers to ‘church’ to both the Universal Church of Christ and a specific Body of Christ like that at Rome, Ephesus, Galatia, or Corinth. Whenever the Bible speaks about the tangible, immediate and experiential Body of Christ, the Church, it always refers to a local congregation. Five indications:
1. The biblical metaphors used to describe local churches Flock, temple, body, and household are used specifically of local churches (Acts 20, Eph 2, 1Cor 12, 1Tim 3). Each of these metaphors has a clear distinction of who is part of he church, and who isn’t.
2. The meaning of “the whole church” In 1Cor 14:23, Paul says “if the whole church comes together in one place…” How would the leaders know if the “whole church” was there if no formal relationship was established?
3. The instructions for pastoral oversight and spiritual leadership Pastors, overseers and shepherds were to care for “all the flock”.(Acts 20:28. cf. 1Tim 3, Acts 20, Phil 1:1, Titus 1) Leaders of the citywide churches must have had some listing of believers. Since leaders were accountable for the souls of the flock under their care (Heb 13:17), they must have had some commitment for care.
4. The meaning of the word “join” After the fiery end of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:13, no non Christians “dared join them [the church], but the people esteemed them highly.”The Greek word for join has strong connotations of commitment. The same word is used to speak of sexual relationships (1Cor 6:16) and joining to the Lord (1Cor 6:17).
5. The instructions for church discipline
Matthew 18:15‐17, 1 Corinthians 5 talk about putting a person out of the church (remove NASB,\expel NIV) and treating him like an unbeliever. Since unbelievers were welcome at worship, removal must have indicated a distinct formal association.
“In the New Testament there is no such person as a Christian who is not a church member.Conversion was described as ‘the Lord adding to the church’ (Acts 2:47). There was no spiritual drifting.” (Douglas Millar).
Biblical Reasons for Committing to a Church
1. You have the benefit of receiving the care of, and being accountable to, spiritual leaders.
Every believer must “obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your soul” (Hebrews 13:17). This command assumes that you have a covenant with certain spiritual leaders. They are responsible for you and you to them. Some people may say, “I am accountable only to God. ” Ultimately, only God has authority over you. But the doctrine of sin should sober us about making ourselves the sole judges over our own hearts, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9). Hebrews 3:13 says we need others to exhort us “daily” lest we become hardened by sin.
2. You have the benefits of church power to shape the ministry of the congregation. Missionaries choose officers and guide the direction of the congregation. Officers are elected (Acts 6:1 6), by “the people.” Formal covenant partnership entitles you to voting rights within the government of our church. While congregational meetings are open to anyone who wishes to attend, only missionaries may pass resolutions, vote for changes to the bylaws or nominate and elect the officers. Missionaries officially call the pastors to the work of the church and recommend the annual budget to the Elders.
3. You are not ashamed to identify with Christ or His people (Mark 8:38).
4. You stop being an independent Christian (Matt 18:15‐17, Heb 13:17).
5. You participate in a stronger, more unified effort of God’s people.
6. You have greater opportunities to use spiritual gifts (1Cor 12, Eph 4).
7. You openly demonstrate the reality of the Body of Christ (1Cor 12:27).
8. You encourage new believers to a commitment to the local body (Heb10:24f).