Gallup reported this week that “U.S. Church Membership Falls Below Majority for First Time.” “In 2020, 47% of Americans said they belonged to a church, synagogue or mosque, down from 50% in 2018 and 70% in 1999” (news.gallup.com). New Testament Christians know the spiritual value of being members of a local body of saints (1 Cor. 12:12-27). The Lord arranged local churches for our spiritual edification (which includes worship), the spread of the gospel, and relief of needy Christians (Acts 2:42-45; 4:32-35; 11:22; 20:28-35). Churches of Christ assemble on the first day of the week to offer God worship “in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24). Scripture shows how true worship honors God and strengthens Christians in the faith (1 Cor. 14:26; Eph. 5:19). Therefore, membership in a local church is a responsibility of great importance to Christians (Acts 9:26-28; Rom. 16:2). Being a member of a local church identifies each Christian as part of a working group of believers striving to do God’s will (Rom. 12:4; Eph. 4:16; Rev. 2-3). Christians will be active members of faithful congregations (there is no floating membership or “membership-at-large” in the New Testament). May each Christian be committed to fully participating in assembled worship and the other scriptural work given the local church by the Lord (Heb. 10:24-25).
20 avoiding this: that anyone should blame us in this lavish gift which is administered by us—21 providing honorable things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men. (2 Corinthians 8:20–21, NKJV)
During his third preaching journey, the apostle Paul encouraged churches in Gentile regions to send funds to relieve their needy brethren in the Jerusalem church (Rom. 15:25-28; 1 Cor. 16:1-4; 2 Cor. 8-9). Paul meticulously advised the churches to choose messengers to deliver their generous gifts to their brethren (2 Cor. 8:16-18, 23; 1 Cor. 16:3-4). These scriptures establish a pattern that approves churches sending benevolent relief directly to a needy church. Paul also sets an example of honor when administering church funds. Honesty and transparency in the sight of God and before men are vital when handling the funds of a local church. Those who have that responsibility must be careful and faithful stewards. Respect for God, the church, and the power of godly influence demands nothing less (1 Pet. 2:12).