How do you exactly define a church member?

This is a legitimate question, and it needs some clarification since the Bible actually describes two kinds of membership.

Universal Members

Scripture is full of references to the universal union with Christ and His body, which happens at the time of your baptism (immersion).  At that moment, you become a member in the invisible Church of Jesus Christ, based solely on His merit and grace.  Universal membership of a faithful Christian is eternal and unchanging.

“…who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time…”  1 Peter 1:5(NIV84)

“The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts: and though all the parts are many, they form one body.  So it is with Christ.”  1 Corinthians 12:12(NIV84)

“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  There is one body, and one Spirit,…one faith, one baptism: one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”  Ephesians 4:3-6 (NIV84)

Participating Members

But then the Bible also teaches that universal members are to continue growing by becoming “participating members” in a specific local congregation.

“Just as each of us has one body with many members,…so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.  We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.  If a man’s gift is…serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him given generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.”  Romans 12:4-8 (NIV84)

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  Let us not give up meeting together…but let us encourage one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”  Hebrews 10:24-15 (NIV84)

“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up…” Ephesians 4:11-12 (NIV84)

Obviously, you may be a participating member of several different local bodies during the course of your lifetime while maintaining a membership in Christ’s universal church.  We cannot see the invisible bond of universal membership, but we can identify those who are the participating members here at FCC.