Right on cue, the Gospel Coalition puts up yet another silly and shallow post on "church membership": Submit to Jesus, Submit to His Bride. It starts off with the ironic statement: "Church membership can feel boring, secondary, extrabiblical, and unimportant." Here is my comment:
"Church membership can feel boring, secondary, extrabiblical, and unimportant."
Maybe it feels that way because it is? Church membership is not only extrabiblical, it fosters a completely unbiblical, dare I say anti-Biblical, division in the church and a sense of competition between local churches for "members". Trying to force our traditional system of competing local churches into the Biblical references to the Bride of Christ is silly and damaging. 1 John 4:20 is referring in some way to formal church membership? Come on, that is just ridiculous. If you think you need to be a "member" of a local church so you know who your brother is in order to love him, I would say you don't really understand what it means to be brothers and sisters in Christ in the first place.
That is why we find ourselves in a culture where Christian neighbors can be "members" of competing local churches instead of united in a meaningful sense in Christ and working together in a meaningful sense on His mission. Everyone is so worried about attracting and retaining "members" that we miss the mission of the church to take the Gospel to the world.
Even the title of the post is ridiculous: Submit to Jesus, Submit to His Bride since the definition of submitting to Jesus is becoming a "member" of a "local church" and thereby submitting to the pastor of that church? If submitting to Jesus and loving our brother has anything to do with "church membership", wouldn't it seem to make sense to have "church membership" mentioned or at least implied?
Every time I read a apologetic for our system of "church membership" it sounds more and more self-serving on behalf of those with a vested interest in retaining "members". If you are worried about losing contributors, at least have the honesty to say so. Just don't outright twist Scripture and claim to speak for Christ where He is silent.