Dangerous Is the State of Unregenerate Church Membership

Mark Dever, in his book Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, explains how dangerous the perpetuation of unregenerate church membership is for the “inactive” member.  He writes:

If the church is a building, then we must be bricks in it; if the church is a body, then we are its members; if the church is the household of faith, then we are part of that household.  Sheep are in a flock, and branches on a vine.  Biblically, if we are Christians we must be members of a church.  This membership is not simply the record of a statement we once made or of affection toward a familiar place.  It must be a reflection of a living commitment or it is worthless.

Worse than being worthless, it is dangerous.  Uninvolved members confuse both real members and non-Christians about what it means to be a Christian.  We “active” members do the voluntarily “inactive” members no service when we allow them to remain members of the church.  Membership is the church’s corporate endorsement of a person’s salvation.  Yet how can a congregation honestly testify that someone invisible to it is faithfully running the race?

 – Mark Dever, Nine Marks of a Healthy Church (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2004), 162-63. Emphasis mine.

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3 Comments on “Dangerous Is the State of Unregenerate Church Membership”

  1. Matt Svoboda Says:

    Dever says it well…


    I don’t mean to be pessimistic because I love the SBC… But why should I want to be a part of a convention that doesn’t take membership seriously? The only thing about membership the SBC takes seriously is if the numbers are big. I have to admit this is discouraging!


  2. Bret Says:

    “Membership is the church’s corporate endorsement of a person’s salvation. ”

    Churches were never meant to be a corporation.

    The author is confusing his termnologies…membership does not mean “active”….how many members dont even go to church…how many members show up to service and leave, how many members go to church but are not thee church? On the other hand, there are many active non members. Change the term member to active, then your making a valid point.

    He also says: Yet how can a congregation honestly testify that someone invisible to it (membership) is faithfully running the race?

    Wow…..how about love of the brother, love of thy neighbor, how about the outward acts produced as a result of sanctification? Any of that ring a bell???

    With this attitude, I guess my family should not corporately worship regularly, should not tithe should not have fellowhips, nor attend Bible studies, should not invite the congegration to our ministries we work with…..or maybe, I should become a member of the local church.

    There is no scriptural backing for membership in a local church…none.

    Membership into a local congegration is non biblical in principle. When we added “membership”, we meaning MAN, what was the motivation…..where is the scripture backing it up?

    Supplicate upon this: everything we do in church is bible principled, deacons, leadership, bible study, tithes, worship, praise. Yes, we get it wrong a lot, but at least those principles are biblical in nature…..I mean .even those who pray to saints try and justify scripturally, even if theyre wrong.

    But membership has no biblical foundation whatseover. If someone can point me to scripture that rebukes me, I would love to hear it.

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