Church membership is the church's mutually understood responsibility for one another's discipleship, both individually and collectively.
If the church's leaders don't understand they are responsible for you as your leaders, or if you don't understand that they are your leaders, then there is a breakdown in understanding. If the rest of the members don't understand they are responsible for your discipleship as a church, or if you don't understand that you are personally responsible for each of them with your church, then there is a breakdown of understanding.
The Bible calls Christians to obey their leaders and calls leaders to oversee the members under their leadership.
Obey your leaders and submit to them, since they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. (Hebrews 13:17, CSB)
The Bible calls Christians to watch out for one another and restore one another, even if they have to excommunicate someone as the final course of action in attempting to secure restoration.
Watch out, brothers and sisters, so that there won’t be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception. (Hebrews 3:12–13, CSB)
If your brother sins against you, go and rebuke him in private. If he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he won’t listen, take one or two others with you, so that by the testimony of two or three witnesses every fact may be established. If he doesn’t pay attention to them, tell the church. If he doesn’t pay attention even to the church, let him be like a Gentile and a tax collector to you. (Matthew 18:15–17, CSB. Also read 1 Corinthians 5)
If the Bible publicly calls Christians to submit to leaders, leaders to watch over Christians, and Christians to watch over one another, then they must communicate that responsibility to one another. Once this understanding of responsibility is made known among all parties involved, then that is "church membership." Call it church membership, partnership, stewardship, covenant membership, or whatever. The label does not matter as much as obeying what Christ commands. Christ commands us to be mutually responsible for one another.
Church membership is the mutual understanding of responsibility for one another's discipleship.
[tweetthis remove_hidden_hashtags="true"]Church membership is the mutually understood responsibility for one another's discipleship, both individually and collectively.[/tweetthis]
Question: How have you understood church membership? How have you tasted of the goodness of God in Christ to you through being a member of a gospel church?