Church Membership

Lesson 1

by Jackie Alston

The Mission Department teaches a lesson on the 4th Sunday of the month, although the mission book we use is formatted to have a weekly lesson. For the month of September, the first three lessons dealt with the disciples' obligations.

The basic theme for Lesson No. 4 ( which is the lesson I'll be speaking on) is entitled "The Meaning of Church Membership." Although disciple does not appear in the title of this theme, we are all, in fact, disciples when we love and believe in God and are willing to spread His word. The selected Scriptures for this lesson come from I Corinthians 10:17 and 12:12-13, also from Romans 12:4-5.

These scriptures were written by the Apostle Paul. Paul in his younger years was known as Saul, persecutor of God; thus prompting the Lord to ask the question, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" Immediately after this confrontation with God, Paul was converted and ordained by the Lord and became one of His most faithful, devoted teachers. For about two years, Paul taught in the city of Corinth, which was one of the largest, richest, and most important cities in all Greece. Even with all the riches and wealth, the city didn't have it together in the religion department. There were serious problems and disorder in the church:

The people just didn't realize that there is only one leader and center in each church, and that leader is CHRIST.

Paul had been gone away from this city about three years when the leaders consulted him concerning all these problems in the church. So Paul wrote these epistles or letters to instruct those misguided souls on true Christian conduct. In these scriptures, the name Lord is very prominent (it is used six times in the first ten verses) because Paul realized those problems arose in the church because the members failed to recognize Jesus Christ as Lord.

Although these problems with religion happened years and years ago, we are still experiencing some of the same problems today. Talk about division- look at all the different denominations we have. Paul described the membership of the church as the Body of Christ. There is only one body- one church in which every true believer in Christ is a member. How does one become a member of this church; of this Body of Christ? That is answered in I Corinthians 12:13. "By being baptized of the Holy Spirit in the name of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." And when you've been regenerated or born again, you love the Lord with all your heart and you're willing to give back that love that was given to you. LOVE is the church's most effective weapon. LOVE is what separates the true christian from the part-time christian. We have so many part-time christians today. People going to church every Sunday who don't have love or God in their hearts.

Just because a person is in church and in God's service every Sunday doesn't mean he's a true christian. Think about Judas! How close can one get to Godliness than walking side by side with Jesus every day? But Judas didn't have the love of God in his heart, he had the love of money. It's sad, but today we have ministers in the pulpit just like Judas. They may be good men but they're not God men. They're preaching and teaching things to us that they're not practicing themselves. And it's all because of the love of money. Take away their salaries and see how many empty pulpits there will be the next Sunday. And the minister is God's head servant in the church!

What about our choir members? Is God in their hearts? When we're in the choir stand, do we really mean what we sing? We sing "Sweet Hour of Prayer" yet pray only a few minutes on some days. We sing "Serve the Lord with Gladness", and come up with all kinds of excuses when asked to do something in church. We sing "Cast Thy Burdens on the Lord" but worry ourselves into a nervous breakdown. Are we taking our membership seriously?

The church membership is made up of more than the Minister and the choir. There are many other departments within the church. There's the Mission Department, Deacon Board, Youth Department, Finance Department, Sunday School, etc.; but then we have what I'll call the "pew potatoes". The "pew potatoes" sit in the pews and watch everybody else who are doers. We need more doers in the church. It strengthens the membership.

I Corinthians, Chapter 12 talks about the gifts in the Corinthian Church. But gifts are still given today. We all were given gifts when we accepted the Lord as our personal Savior; the greatest gift was the Holy Spirit. But there were other gifts given to each of us to use for the glory of God and the benefit of man. Your gift differs from my gift. My gift may be to sing. Your gift may be to pray. His gift may be to teach; her gift may be to pay. The gifts are all different, but there's unity in diversity; and what that means is we're all coming together as one to use our different varieties of gifts to exalt and lift up the name of the Lord. I need your gift and you need mine. And we practice the meaning of true membership when we put all our gifts together as one big gift and present it to the Lord.

Providence Family Ministries

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