I believe in the local church. I love the spiritual body of believers that God assembles in cities and towns and neighborhoods all over the globe. I love the diversity, the community, and the viability that the local church provides.
I’m a fan of the local church. I’m also a fan of biblical covenant community (translated: church membership). While you won’t find the words “church membership” in scripture, you’ll find the fingerprints of it all over the Bible. We were created to belong. We were meant to identify.
We talk a lot about the will of God in our lives, so I’ll let you in on a little secret, if that’s what you’re searching for: if you are a Christ follower, it’s God’s will that you be a member of a local church.
Maybe not this church, but a church.
But there’s a reason I would say that you shouldn’t become a member of this church. Ever. There’s a reason you absolutely should not join any church that’s larger than a couple of dozen people. You should not pass “Go.” You should not collect $200.
If you won’t join a small group, a medium- or larger-sized church is not the church for you.
I get it. I understand that small groups take up precious time out of your week. I understand it means you’ve got to make new friends, and some of those friends are odd ducks. I know that it means there’s another cadre of people in your span of care.
I also understand that at our church, we don’t actually require that you join a small group in order to join the church. Some might disagree with that philosophy. I might agree with some of your disagreements.
But that’s why I tell people all the time, if you’re not planning on joining a group, don’t join this church. Don’t join any church that’s bigger than the cast of Downton Abbey. Run…don’t walk…to another church. Somewhere smaller. Somewhere where you can be more visible and more known. This joint is too big for you to feel like you can find community among thousands. We weren’t designed that way as humans, and it won’t work that way at this church.
If you join a church but don’t join a group, you’ll eventually fall through the cracks. That’s not a prediction, it’s a promise. You’ll come in enamored by the size and quality and the pizazz of your brand new church, but quickly find that you can’t know and be known like you’d hoped. A crisis or sickness or need will take you out, and there will be no one to shepherd you back in.
I can’t promise that joining a group will guarantee smooth sailing for life, but it’ll be much smoother to be one out of twelve than one out of thousands.
Groups: they’re what you’re wired for.