There is a common question we receive about the need for community – “Why is being in a community group a requirement of membership when the scriptures don’t call believers to be in a community group?” There are several variations of this question or declarative statements, depending on the person. Here’s our answer in 300 words or less.
The scriptures never call people to be in a community group, never use the word membership, or the word Trinity for that matter, but these words clarify what the scriptures teach regarding God, shepherding, or a choice in shepherding. Most people won’t argue that the scriptures teach community – in the Godhead, marriage, true friendship, or the New Testament Church. The New Testament Church looks like lives overlapping and believers dynamically living out life together (see all the one another’s of scripture).
There are imperatives for all believers to submit to elders (the leaders and shepherds of their local church) or said another way, to be under their care and correction (Hebrews 13:17). Membership is the word we use to communicate that we are coming under the care, correction, shepherding, and leadership of Elders. Think about dismemberment insurance, or insurance that covers when a limb is cut off from your body. Membership is you and your gifts joining a local body – no longer being cutoff from the body.
Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you. – Hebrews 13:17
You have a handful of men as elders who have to give an account for thousands. Sounds crazy! God has made provision for this issue in his word, through providing a structured shepherding model (see Exodus 18). Community groups have become the MECHANISM or VEHICLE through which the Elders shepherd the flock at Watermark. Everyone is in a clear, defined (closed group), accountable relationship with others, with a clear line to the shepherds. For Watermark, this looks like a group, designated leader, community director, and elders. The Elders DON’T have the option to not shepherd, but they DO have the freedom to shepherd through other members indwelt by the Counselor (Holy Spirit) who gifts every believer (1 Corinthians 12:7).
Is your Community Group looking to do a deeper-dive study on the role of membership in the life of a believer? Click here to find our “Church Membership – Why It Matters” study.
– Rob Barry is a Married Community Director at Watermark Community Church.
Questions about membership or community? We’d love to hear from you! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org