Thinking about Membership?

Calvary_177Are you considering making Calvary your church home? Great! It’s a significant decision to commit to a church. You need to make sure you know us well, and we need to make sure that we know you well enough to encourage your faith in Christ.

How do I become a member?
1. Believe the gospel and repent from your sins.  more about becoming a Christian

2. Be baptized as a believer in Jesus Christ.  more about baptism

3. Regularly attend Calvary Baptist Church for at least three months.

4. Attend Membership Matters. We offer these classes 3 or 4 times a year. The purpose of the class is to make sure you know some important stuff about us, including our doctrine, vision, structure, and ministry passions. When you attend the classes, you’ll be directed to the next few steps for membership, which includes filling out a Membership Intake, and meeting with a couple elders. The purpose of the intake and meeting with the elders is to make sure we know where you are spiritually, and that you can comfortably agree with our Statement of Faith, Church Covenant, and Biblical Principles of Christian Living. It also gives you the opportunity to ask us any questions about Calvary.

5. Right Hand of Fellowship:  The Elder Board will formerly confirm your membership at one of their meetings, after which you and the other new members will be joyfully introduced to Calvary during the morning worship services.

Why does Calvary have membership?
God uses several images to describe to us what the church is. The church is like a building (1 Corinthians 3:9, Ephesians 2:21, 2 Corinthians 6:16), a body (Romans 12:4-5, Hebrews 12), a flock (1 Peter 5:3), and a family (1 Timothy 3:15, Ephesians 1:5). Together, these images show the need of individual parts to belong to the bigger unit. They point to the corporate aspect of being a Christian.

We believe that every Christian should be a member of a local church. For the full explanation, we encourage you to attend our Membership Matters class. You might have a lot of questions on how and why we do things at Calvary, specifically in the areas of membership. The short answer to the ‘why’ question is because we find this process the best way to live out the Bible’s teaching in our context.

Can a person be a Christian and not be a member?
Yes and No. Yes, a person can be a truly converted Christian and yet not be outwardly recognized as a member of a local church. But a Christian will not be living as an obedient Christian if they do not obey Jesus’ command to submit appropriately to a local congregation and its leaders. In a culture where spirituality is overly individualized these ideas may come across as medieval, authoritative fear-mongering. But we understand these practices as God’s gifts to the church to reflect his holiness and love.

Baptism and membership are outward symbols of the inward spiritual reality that takes place whenever a person becomes a Christian. At conversion a Christian is spiritually baptized into Christ. Moreover, a Christian is a part of God’s family, Christ’s body of believers, even if they do not submit to a local church. So in that light, a person cannot be a Christian without being spiritually baptized and incorporated into the family of God, for they are all wrapped up together as a part of God’s glorious plan of salvation.

Why does Calvary have these requirements for membership?
We take a Christian’s relationship to the local church seriously because Jesus takes it seriously. And just as a person needs to be a believing and repenting Christian before they are baptized, so a person needs to be a believing and repenting Christian before we can recognize them as a member of Christ’s church. That’s why we want to interview people- to make sure they know the Gospel and have responded to it with faith and repentance.

We believe it would be wrong for us to allow an unbeliever to become a member of Calvary because it goes against the purpose of membership. When a person becomes a member, the church is corporately endorsing the authenticity of that person’s conversion to Christ. If that person starts to live in a way that suggests otherwise, church discipline must be exercised. So accountability to the gospel and corporate recognition of the Spirit’s work in a person’s life are the twin foundations of membership.

However, only God knows a person’s heart, so how can humans dare to determine whether a person is truly converted? Because God himself has told us to do so. For instance, in 1 John, the Apostle gives us three tests to help us evaluate ourselves and those in our fellowship: the obedience or moral test (2:3-6), the love or social test (2:7-11), and the belief or doctrinal test (2:18-27). We’re not looking for perfect people. But we are looking for evidence of God’s grace to fallen, broken, and redeemed sinners who are made and remade in the image of God.

So this whole process of applications, classes, and interviews are simply the means by which we can get to know you, and you can get to know us and how we view and practice membership. We believe we would not be honoring God or loving you or others at Calvary Baptist if we did practice a process like this.

What do the members of Calvary agree on?

In becoming a member, a person agrees and embraces our Statement of Faith which includes our doctrine, our church covenant, and some biblical principles on current ethical topics.

Interested in becoming a member of Calvary Baptist Church? Please call the Church Office at 610.365.5300 for our next Membership Matters Class dates.