What are the responsibilities of a church member?

May 12, 2022

by Jeremiah Bass

What is a church member? Well, according to the New Testament, a church member should be one who is a true believer and follower of Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, who has publicly identified with him in baptism, and who identifies with a particular congregation of other believers with all the privileges and responsibilities belonging to them as such. In this article, we want to briefly identify some of the key responsibilities (and privileges) that we have as members of the local church.

Stir each other up to love and good works
We are to “consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Heb. 10:24-25). In other words, we are to recognize that every church member has a responsibility to every other church member in terms of stirring each other up to love and good works. To this end, the Holy Spirit gifts each believer with spiritual gifts: “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal” (1 Cor. 12:7). This is also the point of Heb. 3:12-14, which reads: “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end.” Exhorting each other and lovingly warning each other to stir up faith and stifle unbelief is not just the job of the pastors, but of the congregation as a whole. Brothers and sisters, let us consider one another to stir up to love and good works.

Meet regularly with other believers
Of course, it would be impossible to do this unless we are gathering together regularly. This is the reason why there is this strong warning in Heb. 10:25 not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. This refers to the assembling of the saints each Lord’s Day, but it also means that we are to be looking for opportunities to meet with and minister to the saints, besides Sunday mornings. Let the sentiment of the psalmist be our own: “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord” (Ps. 122:1). Brothers and sisters, let us meet together.

Pray for each other
This is one of the greatest ways we are able to minister to the saints. And it is our responsibility as well as a great privilege to do so. The apostle James writes, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit” (Jam. 5:16-18). This does not just apply to physical sickness but to any need that our fellow brothers and sisters have, whether spiritual or physical. Brothers and sisters, let us pray for each other.

Attend the ministry of the Word
In the book of Acts, we have this snippet into the life of the early church: “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:41-47). Note in particular that phrase, “they continued steadfastly in apostles’ doctrine and fellowship.”

Why is this so important? The apostle Paul answers in his letter to the Ephesians: “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Eph. 4:11-13). The teaching ministry of the word, which is carried on now by the pastors and teachers, is the primary means for equipping [perfecting] the saints so that they can serve the interests of God’s kingdom and grow up into more Christlikeness. Brothers and sisters, let us attend to the ministry of the word.

Meet each other’s needs
You will also notice that another emphasis in the passage in Acts 2 is that of meeting the physical needs of the saints. In another place, the apostle writes, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10). In his first epistle, the apostle John writes that this is one of the principle ways we show love to one another: “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth” (1 Jn. 3:16-18). Part of the way we do this is by supporting the church financially, but there are many ways in which we can bear each other’s burdens. Brothers and sisters, let us bear one another’s burdens, and meet each other’s needs.

Each of these responsibilities is also a privilege, and it is right that we should view them as such. It is a privilege to be a part of “the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). May we therefore take upon ourselves these responsibilities, not as burdens, but as our happy and holy tasks.

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