Members are the Church. A member is one part of a collective body of disciples who have been reconciled with God because of Jesus.
The word member in Scripture is the greek word melos, literally translated body part. The Bible uses the metaphor of a body to describe the church (1 Corinthians 12:12). It's a beautiful illustration of how we're each created to serve different functions in the local church. We need everyone to function in order to be a healthy body and each seperate part finds purpose and unity under Jesus, "the head [Jesus] of the body, the church" (Colossians 1:18). The members are the church (Ephesians 2:19,20,21,22), not the building. Further, all disciples of Jesus, through all times, in all places are members of the universal (or invisible) church. A specific group of disciples, at a specific time, in a specific place are members of the local (or visible) church. Every disciple of Jesus should commit to attend, love, serve, and submit to a local church. Therefore at Anthem, membership is the formal process of recognizing that committment.
Why A Formal Process?
At Anthem, membership happens within the idea of “covenant”. It’s an idea that comes from the Ancient Near East, where a covenant was a binding agreement in which members had certain obligations and could expect certain benefits. It is the Hebrew word hesed. Literally meaning “covenant love”. It describes God's unchanging, enduring, eternal, binding and covenantal love. This is different from a simple binding agreement because covenant implies meaningful relationship. For example, God covenanted with Noah, with Abram, with the people of Israel at Mt. Sinai, and eventually brought about a new covenant, available to all through Christ. Through covenant God continually called people back to the kind of life He intended for them.
In the Scriptures, covenant meant an agreement that lasted for life. We’re attempting to use this meaningful term while recognizing that membership at a local church is often not for life. A formal process makes this covenant explicit to the church and to the member, whether membership lasts for four months or four decades.
Members vs Guests
At Anthem Church, we make a distinction between members and guests. If you’re not a member, then you’re technically a guest that remains to a certain extent separated from our church family, and separated from the maturity, protection, accountability, and care that comes with being an active part of the church. This may not make much difference for visitors and those unconvinced about Jesus, but Christ followers who consume rather than commit to a local church do a disservice to Jesus’ body (the church) and themselves. Members, on the other hand, participate as the church: sacrificing time, talents, and treasure; committing to the care and community of their fellow members; and submitting to the authority God has established to lead our congregation. In turn, these elders submit themselves to the members, sacrificially leading and loving them "as those who will have to give an account" (Hebrews 13:17).
What Are The Benefits To Membership?
This isn’t Netflix or a country club. Again, members are the church:
"In love [God] predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ…So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God’’—Eph. 1:4-5; 2:19
Membership isn't about "the perks" (although members do have greater access to Realm, and certain volunteer opportunities are only available to members). The benefit of covenant membership is that we get to worship Jesus together, serve in His kingdom, and live united as children of God! We enjoy the guidance that his Word provides and, when sin comes between us, we enjoy the reconciliation that Jesus’ blood provides.
Why Should I Become A Member?
Anthem Church is a family, adopted by God (Gal. 4:6-7; Eph. 1:5). We care for each other, pray for each other, and serve together. If you’re already a Christian, if you’re already in some form of Anthem community, if you’re already giving of your finances and your time, then you’re already fulfilling some functions of a member. Without making an official commitment, however, we cannot provide the same level of pastoral care and community support, in part because we may not know who you are, and in part because the Bible requires that we take care of our family first (Eph. 2:19 cf. Gal. 6:10).
If you’re unconvinced about Jesus, don’t worry about membership just yet. We welcome you as our guest and are here to serve you in any way we can. If you are a follower of Jesus who has spent a lot of time at Anthem Church, however, search your heart and identify your hesitation. There may be valid reasons to abstain from Anthem Church membership. However, we are rebels by our cursed nature; if you bristle at the very idea of becoming a member, ask yourself why–and don’t hesitate to speak with one of our leaders.
How Do I Become A Member?
First, membership begins with a belief in the gospel and trusting in Jesus Christ through faith alone, by repentance. Then, our formal process of making this committment is quite simple: