The Word of God not only inspires us, through the work of the Holy Spirit, it empowers us to become the people of God. When should you join us or any local church? When you are a better person or more “up to snuff?”
No; saying you will join a church when you are “really willing to make the commitment” is just a way of putting off doing so. Christian congregations are a hospitals for sinners, not museums of saints.
You should join a local congregation for worship and fellowship when you are open (read: open minded) to the claims of the Christian faith. Even if you are not yet convinced of the truth of Gospel, there is nothing more important in this life than to pursue God–even the question of God–with, as Jesus said, “all your heart and soul and mind and strength.” Even if you are not yet sure, you should be in worship and address your thoughts and prayers “to whom it may concern” as you seek answers to your questions.
On the other hand, you should actually join a congregation as a member when…
- You believe and trust in Jesus Christ as the surest and greatest spiritual teacher of all time; in fact, more than a teacher, the only Son of God and Savior of the world.
- You believe in the Bible as the inspired Word of God, sufficient to teach us all things necessary for salvation and living a God-pleasing life.
- You realize you are called to share in the joys and burdens of the spiritual life with other people; that a truly spiritual life is not and cannot be an individualistic endeavor but requires supporting other people and being supported by them in due season.
If you cannot answer these questions with a “yes,” you may not be ready to join our congregation or any other. However, you are not only welcome but encouraged to come, learn, praise God with us, and grow; we know that through the Word of God, the Holy Spirit creates faith in each of us according to His own divine wisdom, at a pace perfect for us as individual souls of infinite worth to God.
As Martin Luther said in his Small Catechism, “I believe that by my own reason or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to him. But the Holy Spirit has called me through the Gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, and sanctified and preserved me in true faith, just as he calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth and preserves it in union with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian church he daily and abundantly forgives all my sins, and the sins of all believers, and on the last day he will raise me and all the dead and will grant eternal life to me and to all who believe in Christ. This is most certainly true.”
We pray that through the Word, the Holy Spirit is calling you in just this way!