This month I'm posting a series on Church membership. None of this is original! I repeat none! I have been helped greatly by Mark Dever's writings, various articles on the 9Marks web-site, and Jason's writing on church membership at Fide-o. This is the rough draft (very, very rough) of a paper that I am preparing for my church leadership on the issue of membership.
Disclaimer: Everything bad is mine. Do not blame any of the aforementioned folk for what I have written.
Church Membership in the 21st Century
This paper (series of entries!) is written to answer several important questions about church membership. Is there a biblical basis for Church Membership? Was there any form of membership practiced by the early church? If so, how should church membership operate in the 21st century? Most importantly, is formal membership consistent with the Bible’s teaching about the nature of the Church. If so, we are obligated to pursue it in our church. If not, then we really have no basis for continuing the practice of adding people to a formal membership roll.
In order to answer these questions we need to define what membership means. Basically, church membership is a formal agreement between an individual and a congregation to be committed to one another in life and discipline. Also, we have to define what the Bible means by a church. A church is not a building, or an organization. The Bible speaks of the church as being both universal and local. The Church universal is all of the redeemed of all the ages, believers from every tribe, and tongue and people, and nation.
The Church is also a local congregation or assembly. In fact, when the NT speaks of the Church it almost always speaks in terms of a local congregation of believers. IE – The church at Ephesus, the Church at Thessolonica, etc.
The Baptist Faith and Message defines a church this way: “A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the Gospel; observing two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. “
As Baptists we believe the Bible contends that church membership can only be extended to those who are regenerated by the work of the Holy Spirit, through faith in Christ alone, and who follow the Lord in obedience through believer’s baptism.
 Mike McKinley, Church Membership and the NCLHGA, Article from the website of 9Marks.ministry,
 Baptist Faith and Message,