What Does It Mean to Be a Church Member?

Your Role and Responsibilities

I have been a member at my church now for a little over six years. And only now am I beginning to understand my responsibilities as a church member—and much of it has to do with a recent trip to a 9Marks Weekender (conference) at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington D.C.—a godly, gospel-preaching church that practices congregationalism.

One of the books I received there (out of many) was Jonathan Leeman's short (thinner than a pencil), easy-to-read book, Understanding the Congregation's Authority. If any of you are considering becoming a member at a church (or already are a member) and are wondering what it means to be a member at a church that practices congregationalism, I suggest that you buy and read this little book. Jonathan Leeman closes the book with some powerful words that Christians who are considering to be (or already are) members of a church should contemplate so as to understand their role and responsibility in the church:

At the conclusion of any interviews that I personally conduct, assuming that I am going to recommend someone for membership to the whole congregation, I will say something like the following:

“Friend, by joining this church, you will become jointly responsible for whether or not this congregation continues to faithfully proclaim the gospel. That means you will become jointly responsible both for what this church teaches, as well as whether or not its members' lives remain faithful. And one day you will stand before God and give an account for how you used this authority. Will you sit back and stay anonymous doing little more than passively showing up for 120 minutes on Sundays? Or will you jump in with the hard and rewarding work of studying the gospel, building relationships, and making disciples? We need more hands for the harvest, so we hope you'll join us in that work.”

(Jonathan Leeman, Understanding the Congregation's Authority, 58)