The Church is the Body of Christ, established by God. It is a Family where all true believers in Jesus are united through a common faith in His saving grace. Because it has to do with salvation, there is no membership more important than being part of that Body, which has members all over the world.
At TCC, we place a subordinate but significant value on the concept of membership in a local church congregation because it is beneficial both for this small part of the overall Body, and for each member here.
Teaching on Membership
Members at TCC are those:
who have been baptized into Christ by immersion, who make a verbal confession of faith in Christ,
and who state their desire to be TCC members.
Placing membership at TCC is simple. The typical approach is that any baptized (by immersion) believer wishing to do so can come forward during invitation time at the end of service to express belief and commitment.
If you have questions about membership or are considering membership, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Membership in any local church is a decision that should only be made freely and willingly by an individual out of love. We encourage all visitors and regular attendees who do not already have a “home” church family to consider becoming a member at TCC and to join us in doing what God has called us to do where He’s placed us.
While placing membership in any local church congregation is not necessary for salvation, it does have practical value. It aligns with essential biblical principles such as commitment, accountability, and unity. It comes with both privileges and responsibilities on the part of the congregation as well as the individual.
“Placing membership” in any local church congregation is not necessary for salvation.
However, local church membership is expedient and has practical value. Membership in the local church comes with both privilege and responsibility. It is a concept that aligns with essential biblical principles such as commitment, accountability, and unity.
Here are some scriptures that illustrate those principles:
It enables the leadership and the rest of the church to know who the members are.
It is an opportunity to agree with the church that Jesus is Lord:
Matt. 10:32a, “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven.”
It is also an opportunity to state a personal commitment to follow Him:
Josh. 24:15b, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
God provides authority in our lives for our own good and for our protection. He never gives authority without accountability. The leadership of a local church congregation is responsible before God to provide spiritual protection for the people in it.
Acts 20:28, “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.”
1 Pet. 5:2-3, “… shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.”
Membership means a willing submission to the eldership of the local church, following them as they follow Christ. Outsiders do not have this responsibility.
Heb. 13:17, “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.”
1 Thess. 5:12-13, “We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.”
1 Tim. 5:17, “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.”
Scripture shows us that those in the church are subject to a disciplinary process that does not apply to outsiders.
Matt. 18:15-17, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”
1 Cor. 5:12-13a, “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside.”
Gal. 6:1-2, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
Membership impacts the collective ministry and provision of the congregation.
Gal 6:10, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
Acts 2:44-45, “And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.”
See also 1 Tim. 5:9-16.
The human body, to which scripture likens the Church, has no detached rogue organs. Membership reminds us of our individual duty to the rest of the church. Each member has a role and a responsibility. When this is recognized, the church is strengthened.
1 Cor. 10:24, “Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.”
Phil. 2:4, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
We are to have the mindset of contributors, not consumers.
John 6:26, “Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.’”
Membership promotes effectiveness in the mission of the church.
Phil. 1:27, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel…”
Eccl. 4:9-12, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
Membership means a closeness that is ultimately spiritual in nature.
1 Cor. 12:26, “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”
Eph. 2:19, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God…”
See also Acts 2:42-47.
Scripture thoroughly conveys the need for individual commitment on the part of the believer.
Matt. 16:24, “Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’”
See also Luke 9:57-62.
Commitment expressed through membership means denying the self in a very practical sense with regard to how the individual relates to the rest of the local body of believers:
Rom. 12:10-16, “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.”
Membership carries with it the understanding of mutual interdependence; the individual believer has a responsibility to contribute to the spiritual well-being of the whole, and in return can expect to be nourished and strengthened by that which the group provides.
Heb. 10:24-25, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 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.”
Heb. 3:12-13, “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called 'today,' that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”
(Transcribed text of Tim Rice's testimony below)
What does it mean to be a church member?
When we are convicted of our need for Jesus, repent of our sins and are baptized, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. We are placed by the Lord as members into His Church, the Body of Christ, the fellowship of all those who trust in His Name. That’s the most important membership anyone can ever hold.
But what, if anything, does it mean to be a member of a local church congregation? Is it necessary? Is it even important? Is it scriptural? These are the questions I asked shortly after I began attending TCC.
I’ve only known one other church—the one I grew up in and was part of for 30 years. Its interpretation of scripture was legalistic, and any clear view of God’s grace was blurred by false doctrine. Evangelism, if it could be called that, was cold and stern, and came with pressure to conform. Mercifully, God revealed His truth to that church. As a result, it split and splintered; some remained bound to the old ways of works-based salvation, but many others came to know the free gift of salvation through faith in Christ.
In 2001, I began looking for a church that taught the grace of Jesus, and found it when I visited TCC one Sunday on the recommendation of a long-time family friend who’d also been in our old church. Given the new freedom I’d discovered, it was a surprise when church leaders came to my house some months later and asked if I would consider “placing my membership.”
For a whole year(!) I’d regularly attended, served, and financially supported the Lord’s church at TCC. Thus I found it offensive to be asked this question. After all, what more could a local church congregation want from me? Wasn’t I already doing all these things? How about a hearty “thank you for your faithfulness” instead? Besides: being a baptized believer, I knew from scripture that I was already a Church member. So what gives?
At the time, I felt the idea of “placing membership” was the same kind of legalistic approach the Lord had miraculously pulled me and so many others out of. I had no intention of going back. Though “I’ll consider it” was my measured response, my mind was already made up, and I dug in and decided to make a stand.
But I kept coming to TCC. I was growing spiritually, and so was my family. I got to know people in the congregation. I made new friends as we served side by side and spent time together. People taught me, challenged me, encouraged me to take new steps of faith, and helped me through some of the hardest things I’ve ever dealt with. I grew to love the people and being a part of TCC, a part of something far bigger than myself. For the first time in my life I’d come to the point where God and the Church had priority influence in my decision-making. And throughout all that, the call for attendees to become members at Tyro never stopped being offered.
God’s truth and the faithfulness of all the believers around me began to have their inevitable effect. Eventually, the Lord helped me to see that my attitude had been selfish and a bit arrogant. Having run out of defensible objections, I talked with my wife and we agreed that the time had come to let the church family know that we valued being in fellowship with them. We would honor their commitment to us and their investment in us in this way. Clearly membership meant something to them, and if I truly cared about them, why should I leave any barriers standing? The next Sunday we confessed Christ before our brothers and sisters and stated our intention to be faithful and committed to Him and to them as members of this local part of the overall Church.
“Placing membership” in any local church congregation is not necessary for salvation. It is merely a “form,” a “method.” However, local church membership is expedient and has practical value. It is a “form” that aligns with biblical principles. Particularly those that deal with the Body model Paul illustrates in the New Testament, and those related to being “one” in Christ, a oneness that Jesus Himself prayed that His followers would have. I believe that the call to follow Jesus is one that requires personal commitment and denial of self. Denial of self leaves only one option: to live for others.
“Placing membership” is simply making a voluntary, heartfelt statement to the rest of the family. The Family of God is much larger than TCC and distributed all over the world. While I am a part of that Family by faith in Christ, I recognize that He has called me to interact mainly with other Christians where He’s put me, and it makes practical sense that I state and demonstrate my commitment to the ones I’m working directly alongside.
Sadly, “membership” in churches has in many cases been abused in America. It’s been used as a measuring stick to elevate men, their ministries, or their methods. It’s been used as leverage to keep some in and to keep others out.
A growing criticism of the organized church in America from both people on the inside and the outside is that it’s not “real,” not “authentic.” Some definitions of what it means to be “real” and “authentic” aren’t biblical. But even for those holding the right definitions, sadly their claims are all too often justified. I want to be a part of a church that’s real and authentic by God’s definition, and scripture teaches me that I must do what I can to help make it that way.
What I’ve come to see is that local church membership is less about what the “organization” might get than about what it does for me spiritually as an individual believer. I am both blessed and given an opportunity to bless. I enjoy the benefits of membership and make myself accountable.
Looking back, I have never been made to feel that my membership at TCC was demanded, or prompted in any coercive or legalistic sense. Were that the case, it would have been done in a wrong spirit. Jesus does not manipulate people, nor should His disciples. Nor was He coerced, giving Himself freely for our sake. A coerced relationship is no relationship at all, certainly not the sort that would endure for eternity.
Commitment is in short supply these days, which explains why so many are looking for something genuine. Jesus demonstrated total commitment to the Father (and to me) when He went to the cross. Over the years, many faithful people at TCC have demonstrated their commitment to the Lord (and to me) in various ways. It is love expressed through commitment that has made all the difference, and it invites a response from the recipient.
This is why my commitment to my brothers and sisters in Christ is openly stated and freely given. So that I might continue to learn to be like the Master who set the example for me. So that they might experience, as I have, the benefits of real fellowship and authentic relationship in the local church. And at the end of it all, through commitment, I find the words “it is more blessed to give than receive” really are true.
Is freedom in Christ found in commitment? That’s been my experience, and taking the step of “placing membership” at the church I attend was one key step in finding out. I’m glad I did.
– Tim Rice