This is a simple brochure I wrote as the pastor of Berean to try and effectively communicate that Berean is not looking for any more spectators to become members and stay spectators. Now let me emphasize anyone is allowed to come and spectate as long as they want, but membership must mean something in the local church.
Question: Have you ever considered what the expectations of a member of a local church are?
Answer: Yes, as the Pastor of BBC, I certainly have given that question quite a bit of thought and would like to share my view of church membership.
Please know that my thoughts are based on a love for our Lord, His Church, His Word and you. Some of what I say will be challenging, and this may be the first time you have thought in these terms. My goal is NOT to discourage anyone from becoming a part of this family of believers; we welcome all. However, I want to clearly communicate the expectations for the members of this fellowship.
BORN AGAIN AND BAPTIZED
The single most important expectation is that members of Berean have been radically changed by the power of God’s grace into sons and daughters of God. The Holy Spirit dwells within them and He, as the Spirit of Christ, has regenerated their heart. This means that Berean’s members are new creatures in Christ and are different from the world because of the power of conversion. Additionally, members of Berean are expected to be baptized by immersion after repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ—their Savior.
Members are expected to be faithful and dependable. A person should not unite with a church if they are not going to be faithful to the church. Occasional attendance is NOT acceptable for members. Members of Berean are expected to be faithful in their attendance to our Sunday worship services and Bible study opportunities. Furthermore, members will make knowing and learning God’s Word a priority in their life.
No church needs another person to join it that isn’t going to give something back to the ministry. All members need to give something back to their church. If your children enjoy the nurseries, Sunday school, or Power Hour, AWANA, Upward—you need to be giving your time back to a similar ministry. Some volunteers are being completely worn out while other members do very little—this simply is unacceptable. Every member of the church is expected to consistently and routinely give some amount of time back to the church as a volunteer. If you enjoy the music, preaching, air conditioning and cushioned seats, realize that they are not free. We make no money outside the tax-deductible gifts of our members and other attendees. If you do not plan on giving to the ministry, please, recognize that every member who does not give limits the growth of the ministry. Now I understand there is a great variance in the financial situations of our members, so I am not talking about a specific amount. However, I am saying unequivocally that the goal is for everyone to do their part. Members are expected to help with the ministry’s needs. In the Bible, God’s people are taught to give no less than a tithe or 10% to the work of the Lord.
In the New Testament, the local church made decisions, based on the consensus of the congregation. Under the leadership of the Holy Spirit and His Word, members are expected to attend the quarterly business meetings and vote.
THE LORD’S TABLE
When we assemble to remember the death of our Lord and celebrate the resurrection, every member should go out of their way to be present. Imagine that other brothers and sisters in Christ, members of your church, are assembling to worship and celebrate a very significant ordinance given to us by the Lord Himself and some members are at home watching football or HBO. God is not mocked; God’s grace does not hold back all judgment. If you are not going to go out of your way to be present when we remember the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord again, ask yourself why you are uniting with a church. I must remind you that Christ gave His life for the church.
Prayer makes a difference. Members are expected to pray for themselves and others in a consistent and routine basis. Prayer is the means in which we beseech God’s blessing upon the members of the church. Prayer is a way we can share in another’s burdens and sorrows. Members pray one for another and pray for God’s help in living according to His Word.
According to God’s Word, disciples of Christ are commanded to be separate and different from the world; therefore, members of this Bible-believing church would live lives that are morally upright. In short, how we live matters. Members of Berean Baptist Church are expected to abstain from gambling, drug and alcohol abuse, pornography, infidelity, smoking, gossip, lying, and any other conduct that would bring discredit to God’s name and His church. This does not mean that our members will not be struggling with these sins, but as disciples of Christ they know their sin is against God’s law and they are working to have the victory. They are repentant and have established accountability partners to win the victory. If you are battling one or more of these sins or other habitual struggles, we have support groups that help you gain the victory.
Membership means something and matters. This does not mean that all are not welcome because they are, but there is a distinct difference between a member and an attendee. Nor does it mean you have to be perfect before you can be a member, for each of us are battling through sins, but members realize that they cannot habitually remain in sin. If all this seems overwhelming to you let me encourage you to be faithful in your attendance to worship, Bible study and prayer and submit to God’s work in your life. God’s grace is powerful. The decision to unite with a local New Testament Bible-believing church (Baptist is this case) is something that should be prayed about. One should sense a clear direction from the Holy Spirit before proceeding forward. In many cases an interview with a pastor from the church will be very helpful in seeking direction or confirming a decision. Finally, members must affirm that they agree with the doctrinal statement of the church they are joining.
Pastor, having read what you believe membership in the local New Testament Bible-believing church means, I am still interested in becoming a member of this fellowship. Can you tell me the steps of membership?
The FIRST step is to begin acting like a member. The first expectation of our members is that they faithfully attend the Lord’s Day services and that they involve themselves in a small group Bible study/fellowship group. These groups meet on Sunday mornings before the worship service all over the campus. Someone at the welcome center, or a pastor, can give you the details. The Lord’s Day—Sunday—is just that. It is not another day to catch up on what I didn’t get done at work or to stay to home to read the Sunday paper and wash the car. If you are not ready to be faithful to God on Sundays, quite frankly, you are not ready for the commitment that church membership involves. Please continue to attend our services and pray that Christ will give you a love for His church. If there is something that routinely keeps you out of church, it would be good to discuss that with a pastor prior to uniting with the church.
The second or simultaneous step is to pray about this significant decision. When a person becomes a member of a church, he or she is entering into a covenant between God, the church and themselves. Before you unite with any church it is imperative that you know the Holy Spirit is guiding your decision. God is not glorified by the church-hopping and unfaithfulness of so many so-called disciples of Jesus today. Today people join a church and four weeks later leave after the preacher offends them with a solid Bible based message. So-called Christians are routinely offended by the truth of God’s word. Once you are sure the Holy Spirit of God led you in your decision, you must then conclude that the message you heard, which may be offending, is in reality the convicting power of the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the Word of God. Hopefully this confidence in God will help you to remain committed to your decision.
Once you are sure God has called you to Berean you will need to let someone know you want to be a candidate for membership. You can do this after any service by walking down the aisle during our invitation or by seeing a pastor, deacon or your small group Bible study teacher anytime. The counselor, or your teacher, will ask you for your address, home and cell phone numbers, e-mail, dates of birth, and the church from which you may be transferring your membership. If you were not a member of a church prior to Berean, then you will not have a church from which to transfer your membership. The next step in membership is a personal interview. If you do not want to provide contact information like cell phone numbers and e-mail then I must honestly ask why you want to be a member of the church. Church membership involves mutual accountability. While I am your pastor you are a member of this congregation.
You must be born-again and baptized by immersion after your conversion. A pastor and deacon will listen to your testimony of salvation and baptism. This is your opportunity to share how the gospel of Jesus Christ has changed your life. This can be done in your home or at the church, in the pastor’s office or one of our conference rooms. If you are not sure you are born-again our pastors and deacons will share God’s plan of salvation with you.
Finally, members must complete our First Class. One of the pastors teaches this class. In First Class you will learn what Berean Baptist Church believes to be truth from the Bible. In this class you will have the opportunity to get your questions answered and be able to ensure you know what the church believes before you finalize your membership. This class meets for 6 or 7 weeks on Sunday mornings and must be completed before a candidate’s membership is confirmed by the congregation. If you are not willing to complete this class on Sundays or through a DVD lesson series, you may not be ready for the commitment membership involves. I hope you will continue to be faithful to Bible study and worship services and pray God strengthens you in your love for His church.
Those who complete First Class are confirmed as members by the vote of the church and welcomed into the fellowship.
If all this seems too much to you, I want to encourage you to attend First Class to determine whether you agree with what is taught and then upon completion you can make a more informed decision about church membership.