Specific Church Membership

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by gekko, Dec 22, 2006.

  1. gekko

    gekko
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    Hey,

    i'm just wondering - for your specific church.

    what is the concept, the meaning, the happenings etc when a person becomes a member of your church?

    in serving in the church - are non-members restricted? if so, why?

    after baptism does the person automatically become a member of your church? does that person have a choice to either not or to be a member of your church after being baptised?

    what scriptural backing do you have for specific church membership?

    why become a member of a specific church?

    what is said at the announcement of a new member in your church? is there a covenant between the church and the new member?

    is membership just a title in your church? or is there more to it?
    ------

    let me start this off.

    currently i don't know if in my church if non-members are restricted in serving.

    after baptism - the person becomes a member of the church... but does have a choice.

    currently i don't have the scripture with me that backs the specific church membership in my church (i still have to get the list of verses is all)

    membership for the church i attend means this: the church and the new member enters a covenant - that the church is now to be accountable to the new member - and the new member is to be accountable to the church. that is all that membership means in our church.

    in my honest opinion - it's only an un-needed title.
    ------

    please share. i'm just curious is all what other churches got. :tongue3:
     
  2. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
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    Here's the way we do it at my church:

    Non-members have no responsibilities, may not vote. They may partake of the Lord's Supper if they are believers, baptized, Baptist (although my personal preference is that the LS be restricted to members only).

    A new member is presented to the congregation for a vote. After the vote, he or she (or they) are welcomed by the members.

    Our current practice is that upon baptism, one automatically becomes a member of the church. The option of being baptized but refusing church membership has never come up. I can't speak for my church, but my personal opinion is that if they simply wanted baptism but no membership, we should refuse baptism.

    Scriptural backing for a specific church? Try Paul's letters to specific congregations and their members. Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, Collosi, Thessalonicsa. They were specific, local congregations.

    Membership in a local church is in fact a covenant relationship. We're working on re-doing our written covenant. The new member makes a commitment to certain things, the church in turn makes commitments to the member.

    The term member is not a title. It comes from the scripture, where Paul described the congregation as the body of Christ, and "members" in particular. It's just a handy way of referring to those in our covenant community.
     
  3. gekko

    gekko
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    wow. everybody so secretive? or what's the deal?

    thanks for your input Tom.

    specific church membership is still an iffy subject for me. although i didn't agree with a couple things in your post. but those were just your personal opinions on how things should go.

    anyways,

    God bless!
     
  4. Jonathan

    Jonathan
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    Tom provides a good roadmap in your search for a Scriptural basis for church membership. Paul's address to believers in the context of speaking to churches assumes that the believers are members. He deals with discipline and the mandate that each of us function as members of a specific local body (how else does his "body" analogy make any sense?).

    The bigger issue, IMO, is how "specific membership" plays out. Does the church spell out the expectations of each member to those who wish to join? Does the church describe the ways that these expectations will be evaluated and enforced? Does the church make a clear biblical case for the purposes of church membership to those wishing to join? And, most importantly, does the church then practice what it preaches to these new members?
     
  5. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
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    Local church membership is a formal identification as a true Christian with a local body of Christians. It is to join in the ministry of the church and to submit to her discipline. It takes place through baptism as a profession of faith, or through the acceptance of a "letter of good standing" from a church of like faith and practice. The congregation votes to receive a new member upon verification of their salvation testimony.

    They are restricted from many opportunities but not all. They are restricted from things like teaching because they are not members. As such, they are 1) living in disobedience by not joining a church; 2) demonstrating an unwillingness to support the ministry of the church; 3) not liable for any discipline should they divide the church. Non-members can help with non-public ministries, such as set up/tear down, yard work, etc.

    They are voted on, upon their baptism. If they didn't want to become a member, I would want to know why. I probably would not baptize them.

    The NT is full of references to membership such as lists (1 tim 5), "among you" (Acts 6), discipline (1 Cor 5), etc. Then you have the letters of Paul to local churches. Then you have the overwhelming silence concerning anyone who was not a member of a local church.

    To serve Christ through obedient support of his body.

    "So and so has given a testimony of his salvation and his desire to join with us here. The deacons have heard their testimony of salvation and unanimously recommend to the church body that we receive them. All members who receive so and so into the church body signify so by saying "Aye." Those opposed by the same sign." The person has already met with the pastor and then the deacons to give his testimony and answer questions.

    yes, Most churches have a church covenant.

    There are expectations. If you miss church for 4 consecutive weeks, you are removed from active membership, losing all voting and speaking privileges. If you miss for 13 consecutive weeks, you are removed from membership. We are trying to make membership mean something here. It is more than having your name on a roll.
     
  6. drfuss

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    Larry writes:
    "There are expectations. If you miss church for 4 consecutive weeks, you are removed from active membership, losing all voting and speaking privileges. If you miss for 13 consecutive weeks, you are removed from membership. We are trying to make membership mean something here. It is more than having your name on a roll."

    Undating the membership rolls as indicated above, is different than most Baptist churches. My experiance has been that Baptist churches hardly ever update their membership rolls including members who haven't been there in years.

    Larry, I think your approach is a good system. I wish all Baptist churches practiced it.
     
  7. Tom Butler

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    If you'd be more specific about what you disagree about, I'd like an opportunity to take a crack at them.

    You're right that some of what I wrote is my opinion, and I don't hold up the practice at our church as the perfect ideal. Even I see room for some fine-tuning.

    Here's why we ought not to blow off the local church. In fact, here's why we ought to place a high priority on service and worship in a local congregation: In Acts 20, Paul told the elders from the church at Ephesus in v.28) that Jesus purchased the Ephesian church with his blood. If Jesus was willing to give up his life for it, what should our attitude be toward it. It is the uniquely designed for carrying out the Great Commission.
     
  8. bapmom

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    gekko,

    one of the most important reasons I see for specific membership is that a church as a body has business to carry out in order to get it's ministries done. If there is no specific membership rolls than anyone off the street can come in and vote in business meetings and potentially that would cause a huge problem.

    Specific membership is supposed to come along with a testimony of the person's salvation......thus ideally those who are members are born-again Christians. It is part of the process of keeping the local church body as pure as we can. (ie, no one is "grandfathered" in just because their parents or grandparents are members).

    Whether we like it or not, a local church body must take care of some business matters in order to run smoothly, efficiently, and in order to get as much done for God as we can while we are here on earth. In order to do that we often have to enter into contracts with the secular world (banks, rental properties, etc), and in order to do that we need to have people who are committed to upholding the responsibilities that we get ourselves into. That is done, partially, through a "formal" membership system.

    Also, to answer another of your questions, my church does not automatically make you a member upon baptism. I believe this is because we baptize alot of children with our bus ministry (with parental permission), but we do not want to assume that the kids are members at our church without the parents also being members - or at least without the parent's permission on membership. The reasoning behind this is just my guess though. I only know the practice, I wasn't in on the "why".
     
  9. drfuss

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    bapmom writes:
    "Specific membership is supposed to come along with a testimony of the person's salvation......thus ideally those who are members are born-again Christians. It is part of the process of keeping the local church body as pure as we can. (ie, no one is "grandfathered" in just because their parents or grandparents are members)."

    Keeping the "church body as pure as we can" via membership is a good goal. However, unless the membership rolls are updated regularily, the membership rolls don't mean anything since most Baptist churches do not update their membership rolls resulting in about half of the members not attending. Why require Christians to be members to participate in service to the church ministry, when so many people on the rolls do not even attend?

    For membership rolls to mean anything, we should do like Larry's church does as indicated in his post.
    "There are expectations. If you miss church for 4 consecutive weeks, you are removed from active membership, losing all voting and speaking privileges. If you miss for 13 consecutive weeks, you are removed from membership. We are trying to make membership mean something here. It is more than having your name on a roll."

    We have many situations where someone who has not joined cannot participate in service; while someone who has not been there in years can come back and vote and have jobs immediately.

    If you want to use membership rolls to make "the local church body as pure as you can", you should start with making the membership rolls as pure as you can. It seem to me that the church can only be as pure as the members.
     
  10. Birddog

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    We have been attending a church for close to 3 years; without joining. They have treated us as part of their family. My wife sings in the chorus and sings solos. I am freqently called upon to pray and take up the offering. During my time in the military we moved quite often and after my retirement we have moved several times. I have never had any problems with any of the churches we attended.
    One pastor told me he knew of no bibical teaching on membership as to having your name on a roll. I agree. If this was needed then surely our Father would have given us instructions on how it should be done. If pastor performed their God given duties and exercised their God given church authority as is bibical taught; there would be no need to vote on matters of the church. This would elliminate a lot of the bickering and backbitting. :BangHead:
     
  11. JamesBell

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    I am curious how you go about taking roll at a church service to determine if somone has missed 4 or 13 weeks. I've never seen an attendence sheet in a church service.

    If you're talking about Sunday school, then I would be removed even though I am in church every Sunday. My church, like many don't really have a class that I would fit into. It is easier to just spend that time doing personal study than to sit through a class with lessons that do not pertain to me.

    Regardless, at my church you do not become a member at baptism. To be a member you have to ask to be a member and give a testimony before the church. You must have been baptized prior to asking to be a member of the church.

    Non-members are not allowed to teach or do any work of substance within the church. There are more than enough members willing to do the work, so I don't see a need to allow a person that isn't willing to be a member to be involved in the work of the church.
     
  12. Tom Butler

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    Just curious why you haven't joined? You like the church, the church folks like you. What's the problem?

    How would you answer this comment?
     
    #12 Tom Butler, Dec 25, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 25, 2006
  13. bapmom

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  14. drfuss

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    bapmom wirtes
    "I mean, becoming a member is really making a promise to God that you will be faithful to His service, and will be an active participant in the local body."

    I have been a member of my Baptist church for about 13 years. My previous churches did not stress membership like Baptist churches do. Membership only mattered when it came to voting.

    I made a promise to God to be faithful to His service when I became a Christian. It had nothing to do with church membership. I think church membership and salvation are too closely linked in many Baptist churches. In many cases, church membership only means that you joined the church sometime in the past, and not necessarily that you are actually even attending the church now. So you only have to have joined the church sometime in the past to be eligible to serve; very faithful people who have not joined are not eligible.

    Membership means different things to different people. To some it means that you are in complete agreement with the doctrinal statements of the church. If your theology is scripture based, and not church based, there are probably some minor differences between your theology and that of any church. Some may not wish to join for that reason, but are willing to serve. If your theology is scripture based, finding a church that is in complete agreement with your theology may be difficult.

    Of course, if your theology is church based rather that scripture based, then you may not agree with this. I know many whose theology is solely based on what their church believes, and not what they have gleened from scripture. When asked about a certain scripture, they automatically defer to the church beliefs.

    Others may not wish to join for some family reasons, like having promised that they would never join a church different from a certain denomination.
     
  15. annsni

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    what is the concept, the meaning, the happenings etc when a person becomes a member of your church? A person who becomes a member of the church is joining a body of believers with similar beliefs and similar goals. They are now placing themselves under the authority of the church for church discipline and discipleship.

    in serving in the church - are non-members restricted? if so, why? Yes - non church members cannot serve in positions of leadership because they haven't placed themselves under the leadership of the church.

    after baptism does the person automatically become a member of your church? does that person have a choice to either not or to be a member of your church after being baptised? Baptism is a requirement of membership but it doesn't MAKE you a member - they are separate events.

    what scriptural backing do you have for specific church membership? I don't have the Scripture here but the New Testament is all about the local churches and the leadership.

    why become a member of a specific church? Because, as I said, you place yourself under the authority of the church leadership - for dispcipleship and discipline. Also, only members can vote on church matters such as staff and budgets.

    what is said at the announcement of a new member in your church? is there a covenant between the church and the new member? Those seeking church membership go through a 4 week membership class to learn about the church and for our pastors to learn about the new members. The names are then posted in the bulletin one week and the following week, the current church membership votes on the names to allow them in then the third week we welcome them in. They are given a certificate of membership, a verse that the pastor gives to them (prayed over and it's amazing how on target those verses are for people!

    is membership just a title in your church? or is there more to it? I think I explained this already - members can vote and be in leadership.
     
  16. drfuss

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    annsni,

    I assume that to become a member of your church, one has to be a Christian.

    What if that Christian member stops coming to your church or to any church?

    What if that Christian member decides he is no longer a Christian?

    What do you do in the above two situations?

    Also, are they dropped from the membership rolls?
     
  17. annsni

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    LOL - Sorry - I guess I forgot to give ALL the info!

    When a person begins to attend the new member's class, the first meeting is basically giving your testimony and how you found the church. The majority of the people have been already attending the church and are in a cell group (small groups that meet in the home) - so their cell leader can also attest to them being a Christian. So, yes, you need to be a Christian - and baptized to be a member.

    If that member decides that they are no longer a Christian, I'm not sure because I haven't been privvy to any situation like that. I do know that our pastors, because we have 9 AND all of our cell leaders, have a good handle on the congregation and will meet with the straying sheep. If there is something going on in their life that would disfellowship them, we will go through proper church discipline first before we just take someone off the roll. If someone moves or begins going to a new church, they will be taken off the church membership upon their request - and they will usually be contacted and asked if they wish to be taken off of our membership list. But some people prefer to stay on our own membership list - especially if they move - because they consider this to be their 'home church' and come back as often as possible. They continue to tithe here even! But I do know that our pastors will encourage them to join a new church in their area.

    Honestly, I've seen people join the church, people move their membership to another church and I've seen people disfellowshipped with church discipline but I've not seen the specific situations that you've mentioned so I can't say for sure.
     

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