Below is a question that taken by Dr. John MacArthur during a Q&A time during one of his services. As we have been studying the Church, I thought it to be a very clear, Biblical explanation of commitment to a local church.
What does it mean for a Christian to be committed to the local body of believers?
Well, I don't think there is any other way to be a Christian, than to be committed to a local body of believers. I am talking about church membership or identifying...we have a problem with that in our society. Today, we have people who just float, you know. They look at the church page like they look at the movie page, and figure who is playing where, we will go here, or this guy or whatever. But, the church knows no identity of a Christian without a local assembly. I mean, in the NT there is no such thing, there is no conception of such an individual. If you are a Christian, you are a member of the body, right? of the community, of the assembly--to commune with God’s people. It says in Hebrews 10, "Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together, as the manner of some and much more as you see the day approaching." So, Christians are called together in a wonderful unity. I believe, every Christian ought to identify with a local assembly. The reason some don't is because they just like to be loose. They don't want accountability or they can't find some place that is 100 percent according to their little list of standards. But, those are excuses, not reasons.
Every Christian should be committed to a local assembly. It means two things,
1) I submit to the authority of those elders.
2) I want to minister here.
And, the reason we have church membership here is so that people can say, ‘I want to bring my life in under the shepherding of these men, and I want to minister here. And, we want to bring them into the membership because that is the only way we can screen people, the only way we can know people, so that we can approve of them to send them out in ministry. But, I think, it is very important to identify with a local church, to come under the authority of the elders, for accountability, and, to come into the ministry for the sake of serving Jesus Christ in that assembly. And, your Christianity is tested when you identify with one group of people, isn’t it? There is no accountability, there is no testing of your faith when you can float. So, it is a very important thing.