If I am really involved in ministry outside of the church (which uses most of my time), does it count as “being involved” in the church since the church is Christ’s body?
It’s great that you are doing ministry! When we think through the topic of “church,” it’s important to remember that there is the local church (or some people call it a “particular” or “visible” church) and there is the universal church (or invisible). The local church is a specific group of people that assembles together regularly for the preaching of God’s word, for community, for baptizing and taking the Lord’s Supper. And they are under the authority of that church leadership. The universal church is made up of all Christians from all times and places - the overall body/bride of Christ.
When you read the New Testament, you see that there are letters written to particular local churches like the church in Ephesus or Corinth, etc. In those letters you see instruction for God’s people to commit themselves to a particular church where they can grow together, serve one another, love one another and many other “one another” passages that can be found here. http://storage.cloversites.com/wakarusamissionarychurch/documents/59one_another_scriptures.pdf
So, the Bible teaches us not to just go about life trying to do these commands in some vague way, but more in a specific way with a specific group of people that we do life with and grow together with. This is why when you join The Vine, we have you sign a “covenant agreement” saying that you are committing yourself to the people of the church and that under the leadership of the church you willingly work together to build up the members of the church. So, I would just encourage you to look at that covenant agreement and if you decide to commit yourself here, do your best to serve this body of believers using the gifts that the Lord has given you. Also, I would want you to think through what you might need to do to free up your time to serve in the local church. There is no shortage of needs in our church, so I’d love to help you with seeing where you can get plugged in! The local church is God’s plan to make Himself known to the world. http://t4g.org/media/2010/06/the-church-is-the-gospel-made-visible-session-i-3/
Again, I think it’s a great thing that you are doing ministry outside the local church, but I do see clear commands in scripture where God wants us to serve a particular church made up of specific people.
As far as being involved in our church, I would think about it this way. If I love and work with alot of families, that’s a good thing. But if I tell my wife that I’m not involved in the life of our family, I’m not spending time with her and our kids but it’s OK because I’m involved with a lot of families and love family in general, she wouldn’t be too happy with me! I need to make ministry to my family a priority over ministry to other families or else I’m not loving my family as I should - as God has called me to. In a similar way, we need to commit ourselves to a particular “family of God” (church) and not neglect them. So, I think there needs to be a priority on the local church. But ministry outside the church is a wonderful thing to do as well, just not to the neglect of your local church. I hope this makes sense and helps.
Am I in sin if I am not serving in the church as a Christian?
Here are many verses on serving in the church. https://www.openbible.info/topics/serving_the_church
So, if you are not obeying God’s word, you’re not obeying God. Therefore, to answer your question, if you are not serving your church, scripture seems pretty clear that you are being disobedient to the Lord’s commands. But the good news is that there is grace and forgiveness in Jesus Christ! And, we all have room to grow.
Serving in a church is a great way to grow as a Christian. I’ve found that when I begin to serve in church, I meet people, grow in relationships, take ownership and I get to experience how wonderful it is to be used by God for His glory and for the building up of His people. I encourage you to ask your church leaders or others in your church how you can serve and what needs you could meet.
How do I become a member?
Come to a membership meeting or come talk to us in the “information room” after a service. We can tell you about the church, answer any questions you have and show you the covenant agreement. To become a member, you read that and prayerfully see if God wants you to commit to this body of believers and whether or not you can commit to what is in the covenant agreement. After you sign that, you are a member. You can also become a member by being baptized or by asking that your membership from another church be transferred to The Vine.