Should The Church Have Requirements For Its Members?
Now let’s be a little more specific in what I mean. I just finished reading a chapter in a book about discipleship, and the chapter encouraged the church to, “Expect the best from believers.” It meant that when the church needed to set requirements for its members to meet. For instance, some of these requirements were coming to church regularly, integrity, and the general high standards of performance. The idea based on studies that showed that, “demand evokes commitment.”
I hate waiting for the end of the book, post, or chapter to find the answer. So, I am going to answer the question. The answer is no, the church should not demand its people to perform in order to become a member. Let me ask a more proper question:
Why should the church demand performance from its body when Jesus Christ does not?
The truth is that the church should not except, require, or demand anything from its members. If you believe we should have requirements for church membership, please think of the following:
- That idea is based on experience alone.
- It is not biblical at all. There is no verse in the New Testament that requires anything for people to come to church.
Should there be order in the church?
Yes there should be order in the church because the service would be chaos without some structure. I am specifically talking about demanding performance. The church had placed so much emphasis on our performance. When new people come and hear our messages they say, “They are all hypocrites.” They call us hypocrites because we have sermons on self-performance when we have no ability in ourself. I love what Martin Luther, the protestant reformation leader, had to say about the Law of Moses. He said, “Ay, beloved Moses, I hear that plainly, and it is certainly a righteous command; but pray tell me whence shall I obtain ability to do what, alas, I never have done nor can do?” I know it is a bit wordy because it was written so long ago, but if I can translate, what he is saying is the Law demands from a bankrupt man, and it does not lift a finger or give him the ability to fulfill the law. We cannot look to the law as if it helps us. It does not help at all. If anything it makes it worse. Some would say, “Ridiculous! God gave us the law to keep us from immorality!”
The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, – Romans 5:20
Now, what does the Bible say? Why did the law come? It came, “so that sin would increase.” I bet you would get kicked out of some seminaries if you said what I just did. I am not interested in people’s opinions about why God gave the law; all I need to know is what the scripture says. Requirements do not make us better people; only the cross can change our behavior. Requirements make people sin more often!
The ability is IN Christ; when we demand from a bankrupt man to preform, it is a lost cause, but if we can preach more messages about how we love him because he first loved us, we will see people doing great things for God. Paul never said in his letters to the churches, “Husbands, Love you wives,” period. He wrote, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church” (Ephesians 5:25). Notice the difference? Christ is the reason we do things. We don’t do good works to receive God’s blessing, but we do good works because God has already given us blessings, freely.
So, should the church (as an organization) have high expectations for its members? No. The church should allow anyone to join because God has qualified them, in Christ. The church should not kick people out either, simply because their actions are not perfect. Is there a pastor who never sins? Who are we to kick people out or keep people out? The church is for imperfect people.
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