Our conviction, based on Paul's admonitions to us in Hebrews, is that membership in a local church and submission to a local group of elders is not an option for us as Christians but is required:
- “Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.” (Hebrews 13:7)
- “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.” (Hebrews 13:17)
In the same way in which I demonstrate my respect for women generally by loving one woman, my wife, in particular, so the way that I show my love for the church universal is by loving one church, my local body, in particular. The man who claims he loves women and that's why he won't commit to any one in particular hasn't learned the meaning of biblical love. Likewise with the church - if we claim to love the universal church the way we manifest that is by committing to a local body not by sampling the goods that each has to offer. This conviction is based on the teachings of Scripture and is the position under which we operate.
For those interested, I'd recommend Joshua Harris' little book Stop Dating the Church now repackaged as Why Church Matters: Discovering Your Place in the Family of God. Also consider Edmund Clowney's The Church for a more thorough treatment of the issue.