Matthew R. Perry

Membership: Does It Have Value for American Christians?

In church on May 12, 2009 at 4:34 pm

This summer, our leadership here at Boone’s Creek will evaluate the role of membership.  Some churches have decided against membership, some make their membership very stringent.  Some are, obviously, at all points  in-between! 

In the case of our church, we have a number who are what we call non-attending members.  They are non-attending for the following reasons:

  • They are attending elsewhere, but for sentimental reasons they keep their membership at our church;
  • They have moved away, but have not joined another church;
  • Some take issues about how a certain ministry
  • Personal illnesses or illnesses of family members, making it necessary to stay close-by;
  • Many we cannot contact either by mail, e-mail, nor telephone. 

While we as churches are very stringent on being accountable in other areas of our church (finances, music, starting/ending time, temperature of the room), but the covenant of membership is seen as something of little importance or even necessity (Hebrews 10:23-25; Acts 2:42-47; Acts 4:32-37).

The True Church

Our Declaration of Faith defines the true church as:

We believe that a church of the Lord Jesus Christ is a congregation of baptized believers; associated by a covenant in the faith and fellowship of the Gospel of Christ; taking the Holy Bible as the only rule of faith and practice; observing the ordinances of Christ; governed by His laws; and exercising the gifts, rights, and the privileges invested in them by His Word; that its only scriptural officers are bishop or pastor and deacons; that the true mission of the church is found in the Great Commission, Matt. 28:19-20; that the only head of the church is Christ; that the sole authority for faith and practice is the Scriptures; that such a church has the absolute right of self-government, free from the interference of any (17.  The True Church, Declaration of Faith, Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY). 

This article is thick with understanding the nature of the church.  Nestled away in this is a very key phrase:  “…associated by a covenant in the faith and fellowship of the Gospel of Christ.”  When people join their church, there is some significant understandings that must be brought forth:

  1. The church of Christ consists of baptized believers.  You have to be a Christian to unite with a local body of believers in Christ. 
  2. Baptism demonstrates your willingness to identify with the body of Christ in obeying what He teaches through His Word and His people. 
  3. The Scriptures are the centerpiece of worship because the centerpiece of the Scriptures is Christ;
  4. We exercise the “gifts, rights, and privileges invested” by His Word;
  5. We observe the ordinances (baptism and Lord’s Supper) as a local church;
  6. The Great Commission is the true mission of the church;
  7. Christ is the head of the church;
  8. The church is self-governed under Christ’s headship.

How could we take membership in a local church lightly?   When we covenant to invest our time, gifts, talents, and presence among God’s people to strengthen them in the faith, this is a decidedly serious matter.  We link arms with our brothers and sisters in Christ to spread the glory of God from our neighbors to the nations.  We strengthen one another in Christ, and share the gospel of Christ. 

Over this summer, our emphasis here at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church is to get a greater grasp of the Kingdom of God and the role Christians play as citizens of that Kingdom!  Please check back!

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