Church Membership by Jonathan Leeman
At the outset Jonathan Leeman asserts most Christians don’t know what they believe about church membership or have vague understandings of it. It is seen as something they can take or leave. The purpose of the book is not to defend church membership from its critics but try and spread a vision for it by showing what it is biblically. Church membership probably doesn’t strike excitement in the heart of many readers and I put myself in that category.
However, Leeman takes a seemingly dull and uninteresting subject and helpfully proclaims the importance and need for church membership. He does this not by beginning with church membership in chapter one but beginning with the church. By drawing out what the New Testament says about the church he shows what it is not, what it is and what Jesus said about its power and authority.
After laying out a high view of the church as an embassy outpost in a foreign land he than shows from the first century Christians what the church looked like as we read through the book of Acts. The picture he paints through the use of analogies and Scripture give the reader a high view of the church and the need for Christians to identify with it. The New Testament uses metaphors to describe what the church is and Leeman continues in this pattern to the benefit of the reader.
Only after this foundation is laid does Leeman begin to define church membership. By tackling the subject this way he shifts the conversation from addressing why one should become a member of a church to why one gets to be a member of a church. Why would a Christian not want to formally identify with the people of God?
Leeman also helpfully dives into the practical details of how a church should conduct membership and how a church member should act towards the church. He gives 12 reasons that church membership matters and 8 ways that a church member should submit to a local church. He also points out that while the structure of church membership will look differently given the culture, the mission and task are the same.
This book took me a couple chapters before I started catching the vision that Leeman is trying to spread. Looking back on the book now I see that he had a reason for how he laid out chapter 1 and what his trajectory of the book was. The book is short and manageable and I would love to see everyone in our church take a couple hours to read it. The results may be a greater passion for the church a higher view of Jesus Christ as King over it.