Church Membership: How the World Knows Who Represents Jesus by Jonathan Leeman is part of the 9Marks Building Healthy Churches series. This book is a good introduction and to, and Biblical defense of church membership for Christians.
We live in an age where commitment to a particular church is often viewed as unnecessary and perhaps archaic. We’ve come to think of church membership in the same way we consider membership in other organizations like AAA, Girlscouts, the local gym, etc. – as voluntary and valuable to the degree we seem to personally benefit from them. Leeman shows that this kind of thinking about our role in the local church is misguided and dangerous.
Leeman shows that the New Testament is packed with metaphors describing the various roles and function of God’s distinct, called out, redeemed people – the church. He then goes on to show what it means to be a church member, how churches determine who is a member, how a member submits to a church, what happens when members fail to represent Jesus, and how church membership may look differently across cultures and settings while retaining the core elements of what it means to belong to a church.
Because this is a short introduction to a topic that covers a lot of areas, some debatable issues regarding membership were understandably assumed by Leeman’s Southern Baptist convictions.