Membership in a local church doesn’t mean “what’s in it for me”. It’s actually an expression of a person’s identity with, and commitment to, that local group of Christ-followers. People probably shouldn’t join a local church right away. It’s better to try it out and see if it fits and if it’s going to work for you. Because once you join, you need to stick with it through good times and bad in order to reap the long-term benefits.
The Apostle Paul sets membership in a local church in the context of someone offering themselves for service (Romans 12:1-8). He says that, because of our personal relationship with Jesus, we should want to give ourselves to help others. He says we’re not supposed to be all about ourselves, but instead we’re supposed to figure out what God has given to us to offer to others – and then do it. And Paul says that when we do together as a group, we are beginning to look like the body of Jesus Christ.
Membership is an expression of the intimate connection we feel with a group of believers. Because we identify with Jesus (baptism) we also come to identify with his people (membership in a local church). The Apostle puts it this way, “so in Christ, we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” (Romans 12:5).