A Simple Question Every Professing Christian Who is not a Member of a Church Needs to Answer

Where does the Bible say I have to join a church

Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you” (CSB).

Here’s the main question with a follow up question:

Who are your “leaders” that God is commanding you to obey and submit to?

Follow up question: Have you clearly and explicitly communicated that you are under their leadership and watch in such a way that there is a mutual understanding between you and your leader(s)?

This, in effect, is a crucial component that necessitates what many call “church membership.”

What are your thoughts, comments, or questions? Let me know if you think this does or does not imply church membership.

Get weekly updates on new content to help you share Jesus, move your church, and change your world:

PJ Tibayan


  1. No comments seen. I think it clearly implies that there needs to be some structure in place that would keep account.

    • I say to members who transfer out of our church to join a church like Calvary Chapel, which doesn’t practice “membership”, is to at the very least communicate explicitly to the pastors that you want to be under their care and leadership as those who will give an account for them. They should also get an affirmation from their pastors that they are willing to do this.

      That’s at the very LEAST what they should do.

  2. We are to obey our pastors by following the things they teach from God’s word. By following what they are teaching, we are obeying God if they are teaching scripture correctly.
    Bottom line is we obey God’s Word. If the pastor teaches something either contrary to His word or something for which one does not believe each will be held accountable for the truth regardless who is teaching or practicing correctly.
    If the pastor teaches wrong and the members follow him, both will come under the judgment of God. This principle is declared in Romans 14:5

    I hope this helps

    • Thanks for chiming in Steve. Your response doesn’t answer the question but assumes an answer then proceeds to make its point. But you missed the question. Let me ask the question another way: How should a Christian communicate that they want to be under the leadership of a team of pastor-elders? Or is that communication unnecessary?

  3. When a person joins a church or becomes a regular attender they are putting themselves under the leadership of the pastors and elders. My sister is a good example of this. She has for over 25 years attended the same church in San Diego. For different reasons she has not joined but she supports all the church does and gives her tithes and offerings. Pastor Paul has taught her all those years and counseled with her and her late husband. To me this is an affirmation of her desire to be under the authority of the church and its’ elders/pastors.
    Those who become members are affirming this desire from the day they join.
    I hope this answers the question better.

    • What is the difference between “an affirmation of one’s desire to be under the authority of the church and its elders/pastors” and joining/becoming a member of the church? To me, those are the same thing. Please help me see the difference brother.

      In Christ,

  4. Very little difference actually except in the minds of most evangelicals who think it important to keep records of who is and who is not an official member. This is in part do to laws governing corporate organizations. In modern times we have complicated what it means to be a “member” of a local church. In the New Testament the churches knew who was and was not part of their body.
    Scripture is silent as far as I know concerning membership as we practice it today. We vote people into the local church. This is a practice for which we have no clear textual evidence. The only text I know of that comes close to a vote of a church to acknowledge an action on a member is in 1 Corinthians 5:5 and 2 Corinthians 2:6. These passages do not indicate how membership was affirmed in the early church. What text do you believe clearly shows that the early church practiced as we do today concerning membership?
    I hope this helps

    • Like I said earlier, I don’t see a difference at all. Those who are members are those who have given “an affirmation of one’s desire to be under the authority of the church and its elders/pastors”.

      The disagreement seems to be on how one affirms this desire. Is that where our disagreement is or do you see it elsewhere?

      In Christ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *