What is a member?
Sometimes people get concerned about the notion of ‘membership’, feeling it to be overly restrictive. The word ‘membership’ is not the key issue; the key issue is being ‘added’ (Acts 2v41), or genuinely connected into and committed to a local church. This involves our hearts, actions, and attitudes. Essentially, becoming a member is a moment where you say, ‘Count on me! This church’s vision is my vision. This church’s mission is my mission.’ To understand the idea of membership, we first need to understand the meaning of church.
What is a ‘church’?
If we look at Acts 2, we see the start of the first ‘church’ in Jerusalem, we see several distinct things happening to the new believers. They are born again through repentance and faith, they are baptized in water, they are filled with the Holy Spirit, and they are “added” to the church (Acts 2v38-41, 47).
The English word church has come to be connected with a building, but the Greek word used in the original source texts has more in common with the English word ‘assembly’ or ‘gathering’. Essentially, the church is a group of people who are assembled or gathered around the person of Jesus. With this understanding, we see in the Bible we see that the word ‘church’ can apply to many different groups of people:
A single congregation – In his letter to the Romans, Paul asks those reading it to “greet Priscilla and Aquila and the church that meets at their house” (Rom. 16v3-5);
A city – Paul writes, for example, to “the church in Corinth” (1 Corinthians 1v2, 2 Corinthians 1v1) and to “the church of the Thessalonians” (1 Thessalonians 1v1);
A region – For example, “then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace” (Acts 9v31).
The entire world – This is shown in verses such as “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5v25) and “God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers…” (1 Corinthians 12v28).
When we talk about church membership, we do not do so in the context of the universal Church, as every true believer is member of the Church universal by definition. Faith in Christ makes you an automatic member. Rather, we do so in the context of the local church: a single congregation. God works out His purposes for His universal Church through smaller, local groups of people gathering together.
Why is being a member important?
The New Testament’s structure – The epistles were written to local churches and seem to assume that all believers would be members of local churches.
It is definitively stated in the Bible – “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number… and the Lord added to their number daily” (Acts 2v41 & 47).
It is implied in the Bible – The descriptions of life amongst the early believers imply an incredibly close community (e.g. Acts 2-4). Furthermore, a consistent biblical metaphor for the church is that of a body – an intimate, functioning body, not just a worldwide group of unrelated individuals who happen to believe the same thing.
New Testament language of leadership – The Bible warns church leaders that they will be held to account for how they lead (1 Corinthians 3; Hebrews 13). Equally, followers are instructed to obey their leaders. This obviously presupposes a situation where you know who is leading or following whom!
New Testament discipline – Paul instructed his churches that, in cases of ongoing unrepentance, they should finally resort to putting people out of the church (1 Corinthians 5v2). Therefore, membership of a local church is an important part of an individual Christian’s discipleship, and helps them in maintaining their holiness.
What does becoming a member involve?
Your journey with the church we believe can be described as three steps: coming, connecting and committing. Let’s expand a little bit more on these.
Our journey need to start somewhere and that is often by starting to come to one of our services or a small group that is part of the church. You are attending meetings, but you may not know anyone. You are not yet connected.
We hope that your journey continues to connecting with people in the church and with Jesus through them and our meeting together. Church is primarily about people and it is expressed in relationships. Two forms that this connection can takes place is by volunteering to serve in a Sunday team and by joining one of our regular small groups. Whilst you may do these things, you may see not feel that you are yet committed to the church. This is fine.
We firmly believe that the more you put into the church the more you get out of it. There is a point where many of you will get to where you know the church is your church, the people your people and you are committed to the vision and building the church together. This is the point where we hope many of you will get to and become members of the church as a response to your present commitment or as an act of commitment. For some people this takes longer than others, but resist comparing yourself with others – we are on our own journey with God.
This Is Redeemer
We regularly organise This Is Redeemer evenings as an opportunity for those that want to find out more about the church and what we believe and stand for can. Once you have attended this evening you can submit a Membership Form and be interviewed.
Membership Form & Interview
Part of membership is knowing the leadership and them knowing you. We ask that you complete a short form that will help us to assess if you are ready for membership of the church.