Article III…Church Membership

All Christians are members of the Universal Church, meaning the body of Christ, but relationship with and ministry under that label is difficult if not impossible. Local churches are the tangible expressions of how the body of Christ is manifested in this world. Individual believers can participate and serve Christ in the local church in more concrete ways.

The Main Street Baptist Church  is an autonomous congregational body under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  The membership, lead by the Pastor, assisted by the Elders and Deacons, retains unto itself the exclusive right of self-government in all phases of the spiritual and temporal life of the church, bowing only to the Word of God.

 

Section 1:  Church Membership - General

A Biblical Reason: Scripture teaches that in Christ, we who are many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others (Romans 12:5).  Membership in Main St. Baptist Church is therefore open to all who profess faith in Jesus Christ and believe the basic teachings of the Christian faith. 

A Cultural Reason: Commitment sends a message to our society. We live in an age where very few want to be committed to anything: a job…a marriage…our country. This attitude has even produced a generation of “church shoppers and hoppers.” Membership  swims against the current of America’s “consumer religion.” Membership is an unselfish decision. Commitment always builds character.

A Practical Reason: Membership defines who can be counted upon. Every team must have a roster. Every school must have an enrollment. Every army has an enlistment. Even our country takes a census and requires voter registration. Membership identifies our family.

A Personal Reason: Membership produces spiritual growth. The New Testament places a major emphasis on the need for Christians to be accountable to each other for spiritual growth. You cannot be accountable when you’re not committed to any specific church family.

So, having said that, we must also realize that there is more to being part of a church than having your name in the directory.  Church membership viewed biblically is an obligation of discipleship and love that derives from being united with Christ by grace through faith, and from the discipline that the Lord Jesus Christ has committed to the church, to preserve its orderliness, purity and peace.

Membership, in this sense, is assumed throughout the New Testament, and taught explicitly. For example, Paul teaches that Christians are members of one another as well of Christ, and that this unity is visible and practical in the church. He likens the visible church to a physical body of which Christ is the head, to which believers are joined and held together by love.

The difference between “members” and “attendees” can be summed up in one word: commitment. It’s like the difference between couples who just live together and those who get married.  While becoming a Christian means to commit yourself to Christ, becoming a church member means to commit yourself to other Christians, specifically, the Main St. Baptist Church body.

Membership in Main Street Baptist Church may be obtained :

 

             A) Upon profession of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, giving testimony of  a change of heart and following in obedience by believers  baptism,  as prescribed in Acts 8: 26-39.

 

            B)  By promise of a letter from a church of like faith and order showing them to be in fellowship and good standing.  They shall be under the watch-care of the church until their letter is received.  Following a proper letter they shall then be brought into full membership.

 

            C)  By statement of prior conversion experience and baptism by immersion in a church whose beliefs and practices are in accordance with this local church, but no letter is to be obtained. (This is generally known as by Christian Experience)

 

Additionally, an individual  can request to be placed under the watch-care of our church.  This means the person requesting watch-care remains a member of another church but is under our watch-care while at our church.  This person does not have the rights of membership for voting purposes but will be allowed to participate and serve in church ministries. [This case is often with students attending school and or those on temporary work assignments who want to worship and serve in a church  while away from their home church].

 

Each new member, depending upon their mode of entry as a new member is placed under the Church Elder responsible for New Members ,  to determine what  training/ orientation is needed.

That training is then delivered in the New Members Class,  prior to the official fellowship into the church body.

 

Section 2:  Membership Responsibilities

 

Earlier in Section 1, the need for individual commitment was mentioned. So, while all are invited to attend, members make a formal commitment to the church. That commitment  includes:

 

1. Regular attendance of Sunday worship. Exceptions would include illness, necessary work, and being out of town. (Acts 20:7; Hebrews 10:24-25).

Members attend and participate. In the New Testament, the church met each week on the Lord's Day. A minimal level of participation is expected and needed  by members. For example, if a person attended only 75% of the time, it would be the equivalent of missing three months out of the year. There are few legitimate reasons to not attend church. Sickness, or  being out of town are two that come to mind.

 2. Participation in the ministry by serving (Romans 12:6-8; 1Co 12:4-11; 1 Peter 4:10-11).

Members are expected to serve in the local church in some way. Service may be in many forms. Service along the line of one’s spiritual giftedness and talents would be a good guide as to the place /point of service. By prayerfully surveying the various ministries / needs of the church one can easily find a place to render service, guided by the Holy Spirit.

3. Participation in the ministry through biblical financial contribution.

Biblical giving is to be regular, proportional, and offered in faith. A  tithe (10% of one's income) is considered a biblical baseline. Additional, sacrificial offerings is also key to biblical giving. [ Pastor Sholar’s sermons of Sept. 7, 2014 and Sept. 14, 2014 speak directly to this matter]

New Testament giving is not to be under obligation but according to spiritual maturity. After being blessed by God, we are to give freely as we purpose within our hearts. The tithe  becomes our training wheels in giving. We are to give as God has blessed us. We give with the biblical understanding that everything that we have comes from God and we cannot  beat God in giving.

4. Receiving the Lord's Supper regularly and frequently  (Luke 22:19-20).

It is our tradition to monthly observe the Lord’s Supper. Every member should give priority to this time, in obedience to scripture and in remembrance of Christ.

5. Understanding of and commitment to the Vision / Mission of Main Street Baptist Church. (See Home Page) 

6. Willingness to submit to the spiritual leadership of the Elders of the church as they submit to God and the scriptures. (Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 5:1-5)

The members of the church are to submit to the God-ordained leadership of the church regarding issues of the church, as the leaders submit to the Lord. The church leaders have no desire nor right to dictate personal issues not expressly addressed in scripture. Their responsibility is to point people to the Lord and to His Word.

7. A desire to be held accountable by the church, including church discipline if necessary. (Proverbs 18:1; Matthew 18:15-20; James 5:16-20)

If the leadership of the church, out of concern for a member, approaches a member about an issue in his / her life, the member needs to be reminded that this caring action was invited by becoming a member and under the auspices of what the Bible teaches. The person should also realize that the Elders do not take such action lightly, and have spent much time in prayer beforehand.

 

Section 3.  Maintaining the Integrity of the Church Roll

 

Following the teaching of Heb 10:25 where we are instructed to “not forsake the assembly of ourselves together” it is expected that true members of Main Street Baptist Church, have a love and desire to regularly attend, support, and serve .

 

Therefore, if a member is noted to have been absent from church services / activities for a period of three months,  without notification from the individual member  or  a sufficient reason designated, the Church leadership may place the member’s name on the” inactive status”  through the church office. ( No vote is required.)

 

It is not the intent of the church to maintain an inactive file for any extended period of time. Therefore, the church will attempt to bring a person of inactive status current. The church will continuously lift  them up in prayer in hopes to minister them back to active worship and fellowship with the Body. After an additional three months with no commitment response, then the individual will  be dismissed from the Main Street Baptist Church roll.  (No vote is required.)

 

Inactive members lose the privilege to cast votes in any church business meeting nor can an inactive member hold any office specified to be filled by members, such as Deacon. 

 

An inactive member can be  reconsidered for active status at the recommendation of the  Pastor, Elders, or Deacon body.  Reinstatement, based upon the direction of Church leadership,  may need to be accompanied by counseling, or training or any other help that can be ministered to benefit the member in kingdom business. 

 

Note:

Special exemption to the tenets of this section shall be given to the following:

 

a)    Members on the sick list and shut in list

 

b) Students and military personnel and special employment situations,  whose  status takes them away from the opportunity to have regular attendance with our congregation. ( Notification to the church office is required)

 

            - Members in the above categories will be exempt from being considered an inactive member, while in that status.