What is Membership?

Why Church Membership?

To be a member of a church is to make a public promise to live according to the Word and to support the work of the local church. In the Bible this is called a covenant. Every believer is part of the church as organism (the Spiritual Body of Christ), but only by a public promise can you be part of the church as organization. A public promise, or covenant, is the basis for all society, according to the Bible: marriage, employment, citizenship, church membership, etc., are all relationships of accountability.

Membership in a church is not like membership in a social club or other organizations. Most organization members are consumers; the organization exists to serve them. The Church of Christ is a completely different community – membership means ministry and service, going from being a consumer to becoming a provider of God’s love and care to others. At Lakeshore, we take seriously that we are a church not for ourselves, but for others.

We therefore encourage all those who call Lakeshore their church home to become official members.

Why Formal Membership in a Church?

Biblical Reasons for joining a church

1. You have the benefit of receiving the care of, and being accountable to, spiritual leaders.

Every believer must “obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls” (Hebrews 13:17). This command assumes that you have a covenant with certain spiritual leaders. They are responsible for you and you to them. Some people may say, “I am accountable only to God.” Ultimately, only God has authority over you. But the doctrine of sin should sober us about making ourselves the sole judges over our own hearts, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah. 17:9). Hebrews 3:13 says we need others to exhort us “daily” so we do not become hardened by sin.

2. You have the benefits of the church procedures to shape the ministry of the congregation.

Members choose Elders and guide the direction of the congregation. Elders are elected (Acts 6:1-6), by “the people.” Formal membership entitles you to voting rights within the government of our church. While congregational meetings are open to anyone who wishes to attend, only members may pass resolutions, vote for changes to the Constitution or nominate and elect the elders. Members officially call the pastors to the work of the church and recommend the annual budget to the Elders.

3. Ultimately Jesus established the church to be a public, earthly institution that would mark out, affirm, and oversee those who profess to believe in him (Matt. 16:18-19, 18:15-20). Jesus established the church

to publicly declare those who belong to him in order to give the world a display of the good news about himself (John 17:21, 23; see also Ephesians 3:10).

Scripture Indicates Church Membership in New Testament Times

Many benefits of a vital local church are available to anyone who becomes involved, members or not. But there is a rationale for formal membership:

Church in the New Testament usually meant a specific local church like that at Ephesus or Corinth. Did people actually join local churches formally, or was it an informal association?

2 indications:-

1. The instructions for pastoral oversight and spiritual leadership

Pastors/overseers/shepherds were to care for “all the flock” (Acts 20:28. cf. 1Tim 3, Acts 20, Phil 1:1, Titus 1). Leaders of the citywide churches must have had some ‘listing’ of believers. Since leaders were accountable for the souls of the flock under their care (Heb 13:17), they must have had some commitment for care.

2. The instructions for church discipline

Matthew 18:15-17, 1 Corinthians 5 talk about putting a person out of the church (remove NASB, expel NIV) and treating him like an unbeliever. Since unbelievers were welcome at worship, removal must have indicated a distinct formal association. “In the New Testament there is no such person as a Christian who is not a church member. Conversion was described as ‘the Lord adding to the church’

(Acts 2:47). There was no spiritual drifting.

How to Become a Member

Prerequisites:

- Be a regular attender at a Sunday service for 3 months.

- Complete Life@Lakeshore course and be aiming to join a growth group if possible

- Be serving in a ministry team or working towards this

- Have been baptised as an adult (Please discuss with one of the Pastors if you have been baptised as an infant)

Step 1: Talk to a Pastor or Elder

The first step toward joining Lakeshore is to talk one of the Elders and Pastors. You will then be sent a Membership Application.

Step 2: Membership Application & Interview

Application – We’ll know you’re interested in joining Lakeshore when you send us your completed membership application. Please e-mail your completed application to lthopper@lakeshorechurch.org.au.

Interview – A Lakeshore Pastor/Elder will interview you before the Eldership considers you for membership. Married and engaged couples interview together. Interviews usually last 45 – 60 minutes.

 Step 3: Eldership Approval

After your interview, Lakeshore’s Elders will consider you for approval at their regular meeting. (You don’t have to be at this meeting.)

You will be contacted to welcome you to as an official Lakeshore member. The message will also give you details about when you will welcomed as a member at a Sunday worship service.

Step 4: Welcome at Sunday Meeting

Standing before the church to affirm Membership Promises; to be welcomed and prayed for.

LT Hopper served as the Senior Pastor at Lakeshore Church from 2007-2015.

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