Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Raising the standards for Church Membership

Here at Memorial we are aiming to raise the standards for what it means to be a church member. The motivation for this is not an attempt to be elitist in a self-righteous sense (that would be in contradiction to Romans 12:3). Our motivation is to more clearly display Christ as individuals and as a spiritual community (this is in obedience to Romans 12:1-2). We are taking a number of steps right now to raise the standard and increase accountability. One of those steps is by having prospective member interviews. As the pastor, I or another whom I designate will meet with any prospective member for an interview before recommending them to be voted in as a member (by the congregation at our monthly business meeting). So far I have had the privilege of conducting two of these interviews in the last couple months. Here is the basic format of the interview (varying, depending on the member candidate and circumstances):

1. I ask them to share with me their story (family history, marriage history, religious history, etc) so I can get to know them better.
2. I ask them to share with me how they became a Christian (this is when I explain baptism if necessary).
3. I ask them to share what has led them to Memorial Baptist Church and why they feel called by God to join the covenant membership.
4. I ask them to share with me their understanding of church membership (then I will go over the Church Covenant, doctrinal beliefs, and some general responsibilities).
5. I ask them to share with me their understanding of the gospel.

Our aim as a church is to be more clear about what it means to be a member of our church. Many times church members do not know what membership is about and sadly some do not even know what the gospel is about. Here is how I explain (from Scripture- particularly from Hebrews) the general responsibilities of church membership:

1. Publicly profess your relationship with Jesus Christ (Heb 10:22).
2. Read through and agree with the Church Covenant (Heb 10:23).
3. Participate in formative church disciplines- prayer, Bible study, etc (Heb 10:24).
4. Gather weekly with the church body for corporate worship (Heb 10:25).
5. Contribute to a culture of sacrifice- through hospitality, service, and giving (Heb 13:16).
6. Submit to church leadership (Heb 13:17).
7. Live with integrity (Heb 13:18).

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