Review: Church Membership: How the World Knows Who Represents Jesus

Church Membership: How the World Knows Who Represents Jesus
Church Membership: How the World Knows Who Represents Jesus by Jonathan Leeman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Outstanding. After making the same brief presbyterian qualifications that Horton intimates in the forward, I was quite impressed by Leeman’s careful and clear work. I would happily give this book to prospective members and anyone who wants to understand membership.

At the heart of church membership is the representation of Jesus to the world, and Leeman gets that wonderfully right. With that controlling principle, biblical church membership and the type of tools and structures that Leeman discusses make sense, good sanctified sense.

His first chapter “We’ve Been Approaching it All Wrong” is one of the most convincing and winsome ways of correcting those who think that membership isn’t in the Bible. Our first step should be to allow the Bible to inform our understanding of membership and participation before we bring in our ideas of joining a gym or a social club. Membership is submission, formal submission to the authority of Christ expressed through the church. Once this point is established, the rest of the work rests on a firm foundation.

Leeman’s institutional definition of a local church: “A local church is a group of Christians who regularly gather in Christ’s name to officially affirm and oversee one another’s membership in Jesus Christ and his kingdom through gospel preaching and gospel ordinances.” 52

Definition of church membership: “Church membership is a formal relationship between a church and a Christian characterized by the church’s affirmation and oversight of a Christian’s discipleship and the Christian’s submission to living out his or her discipleship in the care of the church.” 64

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