WHY BECOME A MEMBER OF ENTWISTLE COMMUNITY CHURCH?
For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
1 Corinthians 12:14–20
Even a casual glance through Scriptures reveals that the commitment of believers to one another is anything but casual. The Scriptures call the church to love one another, outdo one another in showing honor, live in harmony with one another, instruct, greet, comfort, serve, bear the burdens of, forgive, encourage, always seek to do good to, exhort, stir up to love and good works, confess your sins to, pray for and show hospitality to one another. Is this possible without a deep and real commitment to one another? There are many avenues to exercise these duties and responsibilities to one another, but the primary means God has created to do good is through the local church. The local church is the branching from the root of the universal church created by God for His glory and our good.
Jonathan Leeman writes:
- Church membership is a formal relationship between a Church and a Christian characterized by the church’s affirmation and oversight of a Christian’s discipleship and the Christian’s submission to living out his or her discipleship in the care of the church.
Becoming a member of a church is about committing yourself at a deeper level to a local gathering of believers: to its theology, mission, leadership and community. Membership recognizes and responds to the call of discipleship in the context of gospel-centered community. Scripture calls us a body, a family, a household – being a Christian is not a solo effort. Jesus works through the church (Eph. 2:10), the church is Jesus’ body (1 Cor. 12:27), and apart from Jesus, you can do nothing (John 15).
REASONS WHY CHURCH MEMBERSHIP IS IMPORTANT
First, a biblical reason. Christ is committed to the church and its members. “Christ loved the church, and He gave His life for it” (Ephesians 5:25). Membership responds Christ’s commitment to His followers. The early church had a notion of membership that included elections (Acts 6:1-6), discipline (Matt. 18:15-20; 1 Cor. 5; Gal. 6:1), accountability (Heb. 13:17), and an awareness of who was a regular and committed participant (Rom. 16:1-16). A kind of membership was assumed in the early church. The writer of Hebrews, for instance, says, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17). Inherent in this writing is the assumption that you are submitting to the leaders of the church where you are a member. If there are leaders we are supposed to obey and be under, the assumption is that we have identified with and committed to a local church, and know who those leaders are. In other words, does the writer expect you to obey the leaders of any church that you drive by? Which church leaders are you supposed to obey and submit to? Which church leaders are accountable to you? Which church leaders are you called to hold responsible? The church you went to as a kid, the church up the street? Since accountability is part of a healthy church, which church’s leadership is given the right to carry that out in your life?
Secondly, church membership is important for a cultural reason. Membership is about committing to something beyond ourselves, which builds character. We live in an age when 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 Canada’s “consumer religion.” Deciding to become a member is an unselfish decision that says commitment always builds depth and growth. Furthermore, in our culture, unlike the first century, a church is a legal, charitable organization. Thus, as a society it needs voting members, and can only carry out discipline on people who have legally given the organization the right to do so. We also get to enjoy the tax benefits from being a charitable organization (tax receipts are not a concept in the Bible), a benefit that only happens because we have voting members.
Thirdly, church membership is important for a practical reason – it defines who can be counted on. We are all parts of one body and have an important role to play in keeping the body healthy and alive. Every team must have a roster. Every school must have an enrolment. Every business has a payroll. Even our country takes a census and requires voter registration. Membership identifies our family. Only members can vote on the affairs of the church, and certain ministry positions require membership – such as pastors, board members, ministry leaders, helping with finances, etc.
Fourthly, a personal reason – it 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 are not committed to any church family. In Love in Hard Places, D.A. Carson suggests that ideally the church is not comprised of natural “friends” but rather “natural enemies.” “What binds us together is not common education, common race, common income levels, common politics, common nationality, common accents, common jobs, or anything of the sort. Christians come together, not because they form a natural collocation, but because they have been saved by Jesus Christ and owe him a common allegiance. In the light of this common allegiance, in light of the fact that they have all been loved by Jesus himself, they commit themselves to doing what he says – and he commands them to love one another. In this light, they are a band of natural enemies who love one another for Jesus’ sake.” Taking up the challenge of committing to a local church is incredibly difficult but decidedly biblical. It’s inevitably uncomfortable but undeniably important. Looking outside of oneself. Serving someone beyond the self. Putting aside personal comfort and coming to the cross. This is what being the church means.
WHAT IS THE PROCESS FOR BECOMING A MEMBER?
There is a five-step process required to become a member of Entwistle Community Church:
- BELIEVE: Acknowledge Jesus Christ as Savior, King, and Lord and be baptized as a believer by immersion.
- COMMIT: Apply in writing, using the Membership Application Form, confirming Christian beliefs and experience.
- LEARN: Attend an Entwistle Community Church membership class conducted by a pastor or board member.
- CONVERSE: Participate in an interview with two board members or their designate and be unanimously approved by the Board.
- CONNECT: Become an active member by sharing the vision and goals of Entwistle Community Church and participating in the life and mission of the church.
The Membership Class is a basic introduction to our church family. Since we have members from many different backgrounds, this class is designed to clearly explain who and what our church is. The goals of this class are that you understand the opportunities and responsibilities attained through membership at Entwistle Community Church.