So, yesterday I said that Christians who are not members of a church are living in sin. I still think that is mostly correct, but I also think that there is a better way to say it. Here is my nuanced version: If you are a Christian and you are AVOIDING church membership then you are LIKELY living in sin.
Please let me explain. Scripture makes it very clear that Christians are supposed to submit to one another, encourage one another, sing to one another, teach one another, serve one another, and so much more. To fully engage in these activities requires a deep and recurring commitment to a particular body of believers. So, if you are avoiding this commitment, then you are likely avoiding these activities. If that is true, then you are living in sin because you are not doing what the Bible has explicitly commanded you to do.
If, on the other hand, you are that rare Christian that actually does all these things but simply stands opposed to formal church member, then I am not really talking to you; I still think you should join a church, but I am talking mainly to people who want to be a part of the church while still being apart from the church. Such a desire for disconnected connection is not only oxymoronic, it is also unhealthy and unhelpful.
Finally, I want to acknowledge that there are good reasons not to be a member of a local church for a limited amount of time (e.g. you just moved to the area and haven’t found a local church, you are new believer and want to proceed with caution, etc..), but those reasons are few in number. It is massively important to find a body of believers that you can live out the one-another commands with as quickly as prudence allows.
Church Membership: How the World Knows who Represents Jesus by Jonathan Leeman.
Church Discipline: How the Church Protects the Name of Jesus by Jonathan Leeman
The Church and the Surprising Offense of God’s Love by Jonathan Leeman.