Church – A Voluntary Association

“It is sometimes said that a Church is a voluntary society. This is true in a sense, and only with an explanation. It is true in that no external force or authority can compel the relation of membership to be formed, or dissolved. The Church can compel no one to unite with it, nor can the individual obligate the body to receive him. But it is not true that it is a matter merely optional and indifferent whether or not a believer identifies himself wit the Household of faith. He is under moral obligation to do that. It is for his own spiritual good to do it; it is one of the appointed means of grace; the Church needs his presence and influence, and the cause of Truth is furthered by a combination of Christian influence and effort. All are under law to Christ, and are bound by sacred obligations to obey and please Him. He has ordained that His followers should associate themselves together in these brotherhoods of faith and affection. A Church, therefore, is more than a voluntary society: it is a society under law to Christ.”

(Principles and Practices for Baptist Churches, Edward T. Hiscox, pg. 61-62)