I was visiting with a pastor friend the other night and we were talking about “members” in the body of Christ, and how you incorporate them into the local assembly . Is membership automatic if one is truly born again, they belong to Christ, so therefore they are a part of the church? Is it given by the “right hand of fellowship”, that is, shaking the preachers hand, being water baptized, taking a course for new members, and being on the ‘tithing’ roll? Should there be an official ceremony and recognition of those joining the local assembly?
Or, is the whole thing about membership really taking away from what the “local church (assembly) really is, and that is a “FAMILY!” IN A FAMILY, THERE ARE (SPIRITUAL) PARENTS AND SONS AND DAUGHTERS!! In a family there is relationship because the children have been born of God, and therefore, yes, they belong to Christ and His Church! However, in a family there is also Fellowship, and because of their fellowship in Christ, the sons and daughters will come into Sonship! There are the mature sons of God who are growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:18)
They are “functioning” members in the body of Christ, but it takes a “family” or a tribe if you will, for them to find their true identity in Christ and to know who they are in Him, and who Christ is in them! The church is not a building built with hands, but the building and body of Christ. The church is not an organization, but a living, breathing organism. The church is not a social club, but a “strategic” place where the sons and daughters are “set apart” unto the Lord, set under duly, appointed leaders, equipped, established and edified for service in the Lord!! Children are taught of the Lord and disciplined for their own good and growth under the mighty hand of God through fathers and mothers in the Spirit!!
So what truly constitutes a church (local, legislative legal entity) and how are these members set apart unto ministry and service to advance the kingdom of God? To be set apart is to be made ‘holy’ and therefore, confirmed and called to be SAINTS!
Three things will primarily establish the legal, governing body in a city/region:
Phil. 1:1- Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ,…
1) To all the SAINTS in CHRIST JESUS who are in Phillippi (local city-church),
2) with the BISHOPS (overseers/elders) (governments/administrations) and
3) DEACONS (servants/ministry of helps) (men of good reputation, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom) 1 Co. 12:28; Acts 6 :3)
1) THESE SAINTS WILL CONTINUE IN THE APOSTLES’ DOCTRINE (teaching) AND TO FELLOWSHIP, AND BREAKING OF BREAD AND PRAYERS… (Acts 2:42)
2) I. Co. 1:2- TO the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, CALLED TO BE SAINTS, with all who are in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:
3) 1 Co.4:15- For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.
Gal. 4:19- My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ be formed in you…
4) Eph. 2:19-22- Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted togethero, grows up into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place (habitation) of God in the Spirit.
5) Col.1:27,28- TO them (saints) God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles:: which is Christ in you (plural pronoun), the hope of glory. Him (Christ) we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect (complete) in Christ Jesus.
6) 1 Tim. 5:17- Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine (work hard at preaching and teaching).
7) Peter 5:1-4- The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock: and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.
8) EPH. 4:11- And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the perfecting (equipping) of the saints for the work of the (their) ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, TILL WE ALL COME TO THE UNITY OF THE FAITH AND OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE SON OF GOD, TO TOP PERFECT (MATURE) MAN, TO THE MEASURE OF OF THE STATURE OF THE FULLNESS OF CHRIST:
In contrast: The equipping ascension ministry gifts are NOT primarily offices but those made to be gifts (domas) those with a measure of rule (leading) and could be called “consulting” gifts, those given to “enhance, empower, and establish” the saints and generative leaders for generational blessing and release in the body of Christ.