Imagine a seventh-grade boy at his first school dance. The lights are down. The music rolls from an upbeat, techno vibe to a slow crawl. The floor clears and this young man, like his friends, scurries to the nearest wall for safety.
Then he sees her — the crush he’s had since third grade. He’d love nothing more than to ask her to dance and sweep her off her feet.
But he can’t. He’s paralyzed waiting for the right moment to go “all in.”
Church membership in the New Testament was like saying, “I’m all in.”
Being called a member of the early church wasn’t necessary. Everybody had to be all in if this church idea was going to thrive.
Organization was required because the need was too great (Acts 6:1–7), the pressure too intense (Acts 5:40–42) and the responsibility too big to do anything halfway or alone (Philippians 2:1–4).
A disciple of Jesus was a member of His church. What were the requirements?
“There was an intense sense of togetherness among all who believed; they shared all their material possessions in trust. They sold any possessions and goods that did not benefit the community and used the money to help everyone in need. They were unified as they worshiped at the temple day after day. In homes, they broke bread and shared meals with glad and generous hearts” (Acts 2:44–46 VOICE).
Requirements included: Give everything you’ve got. Be a team. A person lacking “sincerity and truth” could be removed (1 Corinthians 5:1–13).
The early church didn’t call it “membership,” yet it required a commitment from people that went beyond accepting forgiveness for sins. It needed people who were all in.
1 Corinthians 5:1–13
Justin Ross is the lead pastor of Free Methodist Community Church in New Middletown, Ohio.