Membership“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14)
Why We Have A Membership Covenant
Though in the first years of our existence First Street Bible Church practiced “informal” membership (where those who regularly attended were understood to be “members”), in 2012-13 the elders studied the concept of “membership” in the New Testament and concluded that a formal membership around a community covenant more closely resembled what we see in the local churches of the New Testament.
What a prayer Jesus prayed for His followers (who would soon become His church) in John 17:20-23a “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be ONE, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be ONE even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly ONE…”
That prayer is the prayer of First Street Bible Church as well, that our Heavenly Father would make us one in a powerful, God-exalting way. And one of the means we believe can help this—by God’s working through it—is having a covenant as a church community.
In this covenant the leaders, on behalf of the church, make specific promises to all who are members, and members make specific promises to the church and to each other.
Beyond this, we have a membership covenant because:
1) God is a covenant-making God. His whole work of salvation is a covenant of grace He chooses to make with those who believe in His Son. It declares His commitment and His faithfulness to each individual and to all whom He saves.
And our church covenant flows out of that nature and work of His.
2) We believe entering into covenant with a body of believers (declaring publicly rather than holding privately) strengthens a number of things that are important in the Christian life:
a) One’s profession of faith and repentance in Jesus Christ and the Gospel is affirmed by an “objective” source (rather than just by an individual’s personal feelings/experiences)—not just in a given moment in time but lifelong.
b) One’s accountability to live out what one professes, as God requires that all who believe in Him do, is declared.
c) One’s sense of responsibility to fulfill Jesus’ commission to “make disciples” is enhanced.
d) One’s separating from the world, the devil and the flesh for the living of a holy life for the glory of God is made clearer.
e) One’s resolve to faithfully follow Christ is solidified in community (more than in walking with Him alone) is encouraged consistently.
3) God’s metaphors in the New Testament seem help us see the value of covenant commitments tin membership
God’s people are described by God as His building (Ephesians 2:20-21, 1 Peter 2:5, 1 Corinthians 3:9,16-17);
therefore, the more “mortared” the individual stones are to each other, the stronger that building will be.
God’s people are described by God as His nation/kingdom (1 Peter 2:8, Colossians 1:13, Revelation 1:5-6);
therefore, the more committed its citizens are by their oath of citizenship, the stronger the nation/kingdom will be.
God’s people are described by God as His family/household (Ephesians 2:19, 1 Timothy 3:14-15);
therefore, the stronger the unity each adopted child has with the other children, the stronger that family will be.
God’s people are described by God as His body (Ephesians 1:22-23, 4:11-16, 1 Corinthians 12);
therefore, the more connected the individual elements are to each other to function together, the healthier and stronger that body will be.
God’s people are described by God as His bride (Ephesians 5:25-32, Revelation 19:7-8) who is to be readying herself for the day her Bridegroom comes for her. We covenant at part of that bride in preparation for the Day we fully and perfectly experience His covenant love for us.
We really believe what John Piper (and many others in similar fashion) have stated: “People who are merely involved to not build strong churches. People who make a blood earnest commitment to its people and mission build strong churches.”
Jesus prayed that all who follow Him in faith would become “perfectly one” with each other in Him….just as He and the Father are one.
That’s the longing of His heart.
Yes, the church, made up of all who follow Christ in faith—for now—is imperfect, made up of very broken, sinful sinners.
But it is—nevertheless—God’s instrument—as a critical, central part of how He sanctifies, purifies, and strengthens each of His followers.
So love the church (as a worldwide creation of God and the local expression of it)…because God loves it so greatly
Pour your life sacrificially into it….. because Christ poured Himself our so sacrificially for it.
It’s one of the most God-pleasing, God-glorifying things in all the world…in all of life…that we can do.
The Church's Covenant Commitment to Its Members
By God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit and the gospel working in us, we pledge before God and His church to fulfill the following:
1) God Glorified. We will direct everything we say and do—in individual lives and in our corporate body life and ministries—toward the glory of our great God.
1 Peter 4:10-11, 1 Corinthians 10:31, Romans 11:36, Colossians 3:17
2) Christ Proclaimed. We will seek to be Christocentric and proclaim Jesus Christ as preeminent in all things, fully sufficient for everything, and worthy of all praise and devotion as the head of the church.
Colossians 1:17-18, Colossians 2:2-3
3) Truth Upheld. We will be the pillar and support of truth, teaching what is in accord with sound doctrine in the whole counsel of God and discerning any threat to the body of false doctrine or false teachers.
1 Timothy 3:14-15, Titus 1:9-10, 1 Timothy 4:1,7, 2 Timothy 2:15-16, 2 Timothy 4:1-4, Acts 20:29-31, Matthew 7:15
4) Gospel Centered. We will faithfully preach the gospel, equipping each member for personal evangelism and world-wide missions in fulfilling the kingdom-building call of the Great Commission until Christ returns.
Mark 16:15, Matthew 28:18-19, Matthew 24:14, Colossians 1:22-23, Philippians 1:27, Galatians 1:6-8
5) Prayer. We will devote ourselves to prayer (for each facet of the church and each member)—recognizing its supreme power in effecting God’s work—and will promote a culture of prayer within the body.
Acts 6:2,4, Colossians 1:9-10, Acts 2:42, James 5:14-18
6) Spiritual Leadership. We will appoint only godly men of character, calling and shepherd gifting to oversee the spiritual life of the church and carefully watch the church, themselves and each sheep.
Acts 20:28, 1 Peter 5:1-3, Hebrews 13:17, 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13, 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9
7) Stewardship. We will prayerfully steward the resources given by God’s people to the church faithfully and wisely for the spread of the gospel and kingdom purposes.
2 Corinthians 8-9, Acts 2:42-47, Acts 4:32-5:11, Acts 6:1-7
8) Loving Accountability. We will hold each member accountable for obedience to God, correcting and, if necessary, disciplining any who claim His name yet willfully continue in a pattern of sin that disgraces Him.
Matthew 18:12-17, 1 Corinthians 5, Hebrews 12:3-14, Hebrews 3:12-14, Ephesians 5:25-27, James 5:19-20, Galatians 6:1, Jude :23
9) Equip to Serve. We will encourage, exhort, train and equip each member so he/she makes the most of every opportunity to serve Christ, build others in the body up to maturity, and reach the lost with the gospel.
Ephesians 4:11-16, 1 Peter 4:10-11, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, 1 Corinthians 12
10) Spiritual Maturity. We will tirelessly work in the power of God so that Christ is formed in each member until each attains to the measure of the fullness of Christ, and everyone is mature in Christ.
Colossians 1:28-29, Ephesians 4:13-15, Philippians 3:12-15, Galatians 4:19
Members' Commitment to the Church and Each Other
By God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit and the gospel working in me, I pledge before God and His church:
1) Believe. I have repented of my sin and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and His work alone for my salvation.
Ephesians 1:3-14,2:4-10, Romans 3:10-26,5:6-9, John 1:12, Titus 3:5, 1 John 5:11-12
2) Baptism. I have obeyed God’s command to publicly display my commitment to Christ through baptism.
Acts 2:37-41,8:12,16:30-34, Matthew 28:19-20, Colossians 2:11-12
3) Grow. I will desire and consistently pursue the things that make disciples grow/mature in their faith, love, knowledge and obedience to God—and strive to help other members do so.
Colossians 1:28-29, Philippians 2:12-13,3:12-16, 1 Peter 2:2-3, 2 Peter 1:3-11,3:18, 2 Thessalonians 1:3, Galatians 4:19
4) Pray. I will consistently and faithfully pray for the church body (as a whole and for each member) and the church’s ministry—and strive to help other members do so.
Ephesians 6:18, Colossians 1:9-14,4:2, James 5:16, 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3,5:16-18, 2 Thessalonians 1:3-4,11-12, Romans 12:12, Philippians 4:6-7
5) Love. I will strive to die to self and grow in my love for God and others, developing God-honoring relationships—and help others to do so.
Matt 22:37-39, John 13:34-35, Eph 4:1-6,5:1-2, 1 John 4:7-12, 1 Peter 1:22,4:8, Romans 13:8-10, Gal 5:22-26, 1 Cor 13,16:13
6) Holy. I will strive to live a holy and blameless life, dying to sin, increasing in Christlikeness, and being an example to others—and seeking to help others do so.
Ephesians 1:4,5:27, 1 Peter 1:13-16, Hebrews 12:10,14, Romans 12:1, 2 Timothy 2:19-21, 2 Corinthians 7:1
7) Fellowship. I will regularly and actively take part in corporate fellowship and worship and the Lord’s Supper—and encourage other members to do so.
Acts 2:42-47,20:7, Hebrews 3:12-13,10:23-25, 1 John 1:7, 1 Corinthians 16:2
8) Care. I will strive to actively express affectionate care for each member of the body as needed—and encourage other members to do so.
1 Corinthians12:25, John 15:13, 1 John 3:16-18, Galatians 6:2,10, Romans 12:9-18, Colossians 3:12-14, Ephesians 4:1-3,25-32, Philippians 2:1-5
9) Serve. I will strive to discern and faithfully use my spiritual gifting to build up the church body for God’s glory—and urge other members to do so.
Mark 10:45, Galatians 5:13-14, Ephesians 4:11-16, 1 Peter 4:10-11, 1 Corinthians 12,15:58, Romans 12:1-8,11 Philippians 1:27
10) Give. I will regularly give generously as I am able, out of a heart of joy in Christ and even sacrificially to support the church’s ministry and the spread of the gospel—and encourage other members to do so.
Romans 12:13, Hebrews 13:16, 1 Corinthians 16:2, 2 Corinthians 8:1-5,8-15, 2 Corinthians 9:6-9
11) Submit. I will humbly honor and submit to the spiritual leaders of the church and their teaching of doctrines, accept correction, and seek to quickly and biblically resolve any issue—and encourage others to do so.
Hebrews 13:7,17, 1 Peter 5:5, 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12,5:12-13 Ephesians 4:11-16,5:21 1 Timothy 5:17-19, 1 Corinthians 16:15-16
12) Witness. I will actively and courageously share the good news/gospel of Jesus Christ with the lost/my neighbors—and urge others to do so.
Acts 1:8, Matthew 5:14-16, Philippians 1:27,2:15-16, 1 Peter 2:9-12,3:13-17, Ephesians 6:18-20, 1 Corinthians 9:12b-23