Membership is about identifying oneself with the body of Christ.
At GBC, we believe that God's word makes membership in the local church a priority both for the people and for the pastors. Here are a few points to consider.
Why must there be an application process?
Church membership is meant to identify the believers, old and new, mature and immature, for whose soul-care the elders are responsible. Hebrews 13:17 presumes that a Christian has elders who shepherd them. We, as elders would simply like to know who those Christians are who are submitting themselves to our care and specifically who we are responsible to the Lord for. Church membership is a formal way of stating that I'm part of the universal body of Christ who has joined with other believers in this particular local congregation. The process tells us clearly that we have to answer for our care of you.
Why is it even necessary to identify believers, aren’t we all welcome?
Yes, all are welcome to attend our church on Sunday. However, we do not want to admit an unbeliever into the formal body of Christ as if faith in Christ was optional. We don't want to fool them into thinking they are right with God simply because they go to church (Matt. 7:22). Certainly, we love unbelievers to come to our church and hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, but when it comes to identifying the body of Christ at Grace Bible Church, we want (to the best of our knowledge) understand who is actually a Christian.
Is this process for “experienced” Christians?
Church membership isn't for some certain level of Christian. The idea of a Christian who isn't committed to a local church is foreign to the New Testament. The Word expects every Christian to be an involved part of the body of believers.
What will my interview with an elder consist of?
As you meet with an elder, he will ask you specific questions about becoming a Christian. Namely, who God is and what He has done in Christ to save us from our sins (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). A person should be able to identify the gospel message since, without it, a person cannot be saved (Rom 10:9). You may also be asked some questions about your life before Christ so that we generally understand the conversion/new birth that has taken place in your life since coming to Christ (John 3:3). The reason for asking some of them is that they can often illuminate the reality of a saving faith. In addition, you will be asked if you've had a prior divorce and the circumstances that brought divorce about. The Bible forbids divorce (Matt 5:32, Matt 19:6, Matt 19:9; Mk 10:9, Mk 10:11-12, Lk 16:17-18), but the Bible also allows divorce to occur as a last resort in these specific instances (Matthew 5:32, 19:9; 1Corinthians 7:15).
Why can't anybody who wants to become a member simply join the church without having to answer questions?
Paul told the Ephesian elders to protect the flock of God from wolves (Acts 20:28). We believe that by asking a few questions about your eagerness to submit to spiritual leadership, and what you believe about Christ and His gospel is a way to protect the flock from wolves. By asking these questions, which Paul tells us all to ask of ourselves anyway, we are trying to put a process in place where we can identify potential threats to the body in the future. This is not something to apologize for, but hopefully, it can be seen as a way to show our love to the local church and a commitment to shepherd the flock of God among us (1 Peter 5:2-4).
As we meet together, we are to "stir one another on to love and good deeds." Heb 10:24-25 It's better to serve God together and we are encouraged about your desire to be part of the body.
To become a member you must:
1. Be a Christian.
2. Have an interview with an elder, and give your testimony.
3. Be baptized as a believer.
4. Sign the Membership Covenant.
For more information about becoming a member, or if you have questions, please contact Pastor Dave. He'd love to talk with you.