Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 20, 1964
NUMBER 41, PAGE 8,13c

Placing Membership, Joining Thyself To The Disciples

Jimmy Tuten, Jr.

INTRODUCTION: Acts 9:26-28 1. Among the many subjects about which there is widespread misunderstanding, the matter of "placing membership" ranks high.

a. Members of the body of Christ living in certain communities, but at the same time not actively associated with the local church, constitute one of the grave problems facing the church.

b. These people generally fall under three headings:

(1) Those whose names have been placed on a directory by identifying themselves with the church, but who since have not darkened the doors.

(2) Those who have moved into a community, attend spasmodically and never seek to identify themselves with the church.

(3) Those who move into a community and never attend services.

2. The problem simply stated is this: Many do not understand the importance of local church affiliation when moving about from one location to another. They do not understand that when they move away from one place of work and worship, they can no longer claim membership there, since in moving, their membership moves with them. They, therefore, must identify themselves with the church in the community into which they have moved.

A; "Floating Membership" Is Completely Unknown In The Scriptures.

3. Our purpose in this lesson is to clear the air of any and all misunderstanding along this line.

I. Clearing Away Misunderstandings

A. "Placing Membership" is a misnomer, due to the fact that when one obeys the gospel, he already holds membership in the Lord's body.

1. The term "identify" would be much better. The word means, "the condition of being the same with something described or asserted." (Webster) "Joining one's self to the disciples." (Acts 9:26)

2. I am using "Placing Membership" in the accommodative sense to describe the function of one's associating himself with the local church.

B. Many hold to the belief that a Christian has to go through some formal process of "moving his letter" before "membership" is changed from one church to another.

1. It is thought that if they move away from a given area and do not "move their letter," that membership remains with the congregation with which they worked. We often hear expressions like this: "my membership is back home, I did not move it when I moved away several years ago, etc."

2. All need to understand that as far as the local church is concerned, membership moves when you move. One's membership with a given congregation terminates when one ceases having relation with it, whether formal action is taken or not.

3. It is not necessary to take a "church letter" with you when you move, but it is necessary that you take the necessary action of becoming actively associated with a church of the Lord in the community into which you have moved.

II. To Arrive At A Better Understanding, Let Us Observe The Use Of The Term "Church" In The New Testament.

A. In the universal or unlimited sense, it is made up of all the redeemed of the earth. (Matt. 16:16-18; Eph. 5:25, 26; Heb. 12:23) This church in the aggregate is not limited to a part of the saved, but includes all.

B. In the limited or local sense, the church constitutes the saved in a given area, or community. (I Cor. 1:2; Phil. 1:1; Acts 13:1)

1. The Divinely prescribed organization is seen in Phil. 1:1, which excludes all other forms of organization, larger or smaller than the local church.

2. The church in this sense is limited to place and is dependent upon fellowship or association one with the other. One can have fellowship with God in some instances (cf. Eunuch, Acts 8), without association with Christians. But fellowship with Christians is dependent upon being located with others of like nature and disposition.

a. Illustration: Man taught gospel in Carolina, obeys gospel in Florida while on vacation, returns to Carolina and identifies himself with the local church nearest him.

3. One must be a part of a local work at all times in order to fulfill one's responsibility.

C. Examples from the New Testament - Acts 9:26-28; 18:27; Rom. 16:1,2. (Discuss in detail.)

III. Importance Of Identifying One's Self With The Local Church

A. Since there are certain obligations and responsibilities contingent upon being actively associated with other Christians who constitute the local church, and since the local church is the only unit authorized to accomplish this task, this cannot be carried out without association with the local church.

1. Each Christian is a worker with God. The church in each community is sufficient to accomplish its tasks. But the church is a collectivity, therefore, our relationship is important. (Eph. 2:10; 1 Cor. 12:27 -"Ye are the body of Christ and members in particular.)

2. In order to have fellowship with a given congregation one must join himself to them in order to do the work assigned to the local church.

IV. What Happens If One Fails To Be Identified With The Local Church?

A. Failure to be identifed with local church will in time cause you to feel no obligation to any congregation.

1. From this carelessness will result (Heb. 10:25). Finally apostasy. (2 Pet. 2:20-22)

B. One's family will be affected since they will not be a part of the Bible teaching program. Illustrate: Unfaithful Christian in Granite City, Ill., failed to attend for years. Her son now 18 years old is studying to be Presbyterian preacher. When she realized the results of his attending a denominational church, it was too late.

C. It hinders to some degree the work in the community. (Matt. 5:13-16; Rom. 2:24)

D. Constitutes rebellion. One does not submit to the elders (Heb. 13:17), does not consider one another to provide unto good works (Heb. 10:24), and forsakes the Lord. (Heb. 10:25)

E. For the church of our Lord to be a strong bulwark against sin and digression, one must do his or her part. The most humble member working actively is a great benefactor to those round about.


1. Identify yourself with the nearest faithful congregation today. "Floating membership" is unknown to the New Testament.

2. You may do so by:

a. Responding to the invitation.

b. Having your desired announced, or publically stated.

3. Your eternal salvation depends upon your cooperation with God. (2 Cor. 6:1) He has given you the straight and narrow path, you must, walk in it. (Phil. 2:12)

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