And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
— Ephesians 4:11–16
I am a church brat. My mom’s water broke in the church parking lot, so I was literally almost born in church. I have been a member of a church since the day I was born. I have been to every type of camp, attended every auxiliary, and participated in numerous lay renewals. I understand that you may not know what all of those things are, but I do, and that’s the point.
My parents could take me to a building, they could make me memorize Scripture, and they could call me a church member, but none of those things had any spiritual significance in and of themselves. What I ultimately needed to join the Church was a spiritual birth.
You cannot join a church. You can join an institution that calls itself a church, but you cannot join the Church. A person has to be birthed into the Church. Notice the terms that the Bible actually uses to describe the Church: the body of Christ, the family of God, the fellowship of the saints. These are all dynamic, living metaphors that illustrate the integral part that each of us plays in the church. Each of us is called, not merely to go to church, but to actually be the church, every member playing their part as a growing member of the body of Christ.
God has called each of us into this family to play a specific role. It doesn’t matter how religious you were in the past. It only matters if you respond to His call in the present. This is the spiritual maturity to which we are all called, both church brats and not.