I think the better question to ask is “Why not?”
If you’re a Christian and you want to live your life according to the principles and teachings of Scripture, you should RUN to church membership. In a culture where we are taught to commit to nothing and no one outside of ourselves, church membership is a vital opportunity for the believer who wants to live as a disciple of Christ.
“Well, why isn’t there a chapter in the Bible that talks about church membership then???”
If you really read the Bible, and especially the New Testament, you won’t have trouble finding church membership. In fact, I would say that if you really read it at face value, you’ll have trouble MISSING church membership. Think about some of these basic commands in the New Testament:
Hebrews 10:24-25 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not 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.
John 13:34-35 34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” [from the lips of Jesus]
Hebrews 13:17 17 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.
Romans 12:4-8 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
Those are just a few of the dozens and dozens of examples of exhortations given by New Testament writers to Christians. As we look at these, the question now becomes, “How do you exemplify these commands in your life as a Christian outside of a committed, rooted, and lasting covenant relationship with a local church body?” The short answer: you don’t.
“But what if I am committed? What if I am rooted? Why do I have to sign on to “be a member” if I’m going to be faithful without it?”
One of many short answers: because it’s not just about you, it’s about the community. Becoming a member isn’t about just a piece of paper, or taking a class, or signing a covenant. It’s an exchange of access with spiritual authority and with a community of fellow Christians. It’s a right of passage that an individual Christian steps through as they declare, “I am one of you. I am committed to you. I am and will serve as a part of this body to accomplish the mission that God has given us in this region and around the world.”
Become a member. Because it’s responsible, it’s biblical, and it will deepen your discipleship. It will take you from “me” to “we,” and that will lead to Christ-exalting transformation in your life.