interested in becoming a member of living hope?
So, you are thinking about becoming a church member…
There is no organization more important than the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. The church is God’s primary tool on earth to accomplish his work. You may have a number of questions about membership at Living Hope so please take a few minutes to read through this information.
Jesus taught that it is important to “count the cost” of following Him—that is, to consider what is involved in discipleship. What will membership in the church require of you? What will be expected of you?
No doubt, you’ve heard the adage, “With privilege comes responsibility.” In a day when many people approach church as consumers, asking “How can this benefit me?”, we all should be reminded of
Jesus' call to servant-hood.
There are privileges associated with membership in the church. Church membership will benefit you in a variety of ways. But there are also duties that accompany the commitment to follow Jesus Christ in the fellowship of other believers, and it is important that you understand both what you can expect from church-life and what will be expected from you, before you become a member.
Is the concept of “joining the church” even a Biblical concept?
While the term “church member” is not found in the New Testament, the concept is certainly present. The apostle Paul conveys the concept of membership in Romans 12:4-5 by telling his readers, “Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are all parts of His one body, and each of us has different work to do. And since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others.” The book of Acts gives us a record of the beginning of the universal church as we know it, and it shows us that almost immediately people began to identify with one local church and serve within it as it grew.
A second reason for formal membership is that it is very valuable to the pastors of the church as they seek to fulfill their God given task of shepherding. The pastors of the church have the responsibility of identifying those who have not only made a commitment to Christ, but also those who desire to make a commitment here at Living Hope. These people are then added to the “core group” of Living Hope—that group of people that can be counted on to faithfully serve and sustain the various ministries of the church.
The third and final reason for membership is because it benefits the individual. As the pastors fulfill their responsibility of training men and women to serve, and as these individuals serve faithfully, the Bible says that the body of Christ is built up. The result of this, as the apostle Paul states, is that we become unified, mature, and that we increase in our knowledge of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:11-13).
All who have trusted in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins are members once and for all in the family of God (1 Corinthians 12:12-13; Ephesians 2:13-22; 4:3-6; Colossians1: 13-22). This positional membership is eternal and unchanging. As we have already seen above, the concept of being a participating member in a local church is also present in the Bible (Romans12: 4-8; 1 Corinthians 12:25-31; 14:12,26; Hebrews 10:24-25; 1 Timothy 3:14-15). You may be a participating member of several different local church’s during your lifetime, but your positional membership in God’s family will never change.
What will be expected of me as a church member?
There are several privileges and responsibilities that are part of being a participating member at Living Hope. The desire that we have for all who attend Living Hope is that they are passionate about following Jesus Christ, and this quality is crucial to being a participating member of any church. In light of this, here are the responsibilities of a participating member at Living Hope:
Jesus told his disciples, “Apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). We want everyone at Living Hope to have an intense desire to live Godly lives by making his or her relationship with God a priority. A close relationship with God and the Bible along with a yielded heart will produce personal purity and spiritual maturity. These are the greatest gifts that a member can offer a local church.
A healthy body functions in a unified manor and no one part ever intentionally seeks to hurt another part of the body. The apostle Paul told his readers, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18) We must exhibit this loving behavior as we deal with those inside as well as outside of the church. A reputation for displaying this love to others builds my personal credibility, models the life of Christ, and represents God and Living Hope positively. Building these solid, godly relationships is pleasing to God.
A participating member of Living Hope does not just merely attend the worship services. The Bible is clear that all believers have been gifted in some way for the purpose of serving God as well as others. God wants all believers to be giving their time, talents, and treasure to the church because that is His design. This begins with a commitment to serving others at Living Hope. Jesus washed His disciple’s feet to provide an example of love, servant-hood and humility (John 13:12-15). As a member continues to grow closer to God, his or her attitude begins to change from, “What can Living Hope do for me?” to, “What can I do for God and others at Living Hope?”
What Does Membership Look Like?
1. Consistent Attendance at Public Worship
Hebrews 10:24-25 says “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Having a consistent presence at our worship services is the most basic responsibility that one can have in their commitment to Living Hope.
2. The Practice of Personal Devotion
Secondly, church membership involves a personal commitment to pursue a daily walk with Jesus Christ. Unless a person stays connected to the Lord—unless he “abides in Christ” through the spiritual disciplines of Bible reading, prayer, and meditation—he cannot bear the fruit of Christian character.
3. Serving the Church and Others
Ephesians 4:11-16 outlines the dynamics of church function in terms of “every member ministry in the body of Christ.” It works like this: The most basic function of the church is the preaching and teaching of God’s word. As the word of God is faithfully and accurately taught, the saints are equipped to minister to one another. As each part of the body fulfills its respective role, the body as a whole grows to maturity in Christ. Each member of the local body is responsible for using the spiritual gifts they have been given to minister to the rest of the body. Each must be interested in the “one another” passages of the New Testament. Using our gifts to serve the body of Christ at Living Hope is how we accomplish the “building up of one another” that the Bible speaks of.
4. Protect the Unity
Another area of personal concern to every member should be the unity of the local church. Ephesians 4:2-3 urges each believer to “endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” by maintaining an attitude of “lowliness, meekness, long-suffering, and forbearance”. If you have ever experienced the heartache of disunity, you know that unity is a priceless commodity. Nothing so discredits the church’s witness to the community as strife, tension, and conflict among the membership. Every member must take personal responsibility for peacemaking within the fellowship. Do what you can to foster harmony, silence gossip, and promote a general spirit of goodwill in interpersonal relationships. Refuse to be a part of divisiveness. Guard the unity.
5. Sacrificial Giving
As a church member, you should be involved in the sacrificial giving of your resources to the church. Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive”. Paul said, “God loves a cheerful giver”. If we have freely received God’s gifts of grace, we ought to freely give such grace to others in confidence that God will sufficiently supply our personal needs. In a very real sense, giving is an act of worship.
Your financial support allows the ministry to move forward so that the pastors can give the best hours of their day to this body at Living Hope through prayer and the ministry of the word. Further, your sacrificial gifts help in the spread of the gospel, the care of those who are in need, the purchase of necessary items in the function of the church and the general maintenance of the building. The happiest people in life are those who give sacrificially and cheerfully, never asking if it pays. God is faithful to return such an investment in a myriad of blessings.
The Membership Process
Be at least 16 years of age.
Affirm your belief in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and acknowledge that His death and resurrection alone is sufficient for the forgiveness of sins.
Have already been baptized as a Believer or be willing to be baptized.
A brief informal introduction with a Pastor or Elder.
Be in agreement with Living Hope’s Statement of Faith.