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Church Membership Class Lesson One

Church Membership  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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A series on church membership, designed to be completed by potential members

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Church Membership Class Lesson One

Introduction

You are watching this series because you are interested in church member, particularly church membership at Warrior Creek Baptist Church.
Let me first say that I am excited that you are watching this. Church membership is one of God’s greatest gifts to His children, and we praise God for His marvelous grace in choosing to allow us to join together as we worship and serve Him, while simultaneously encouraging, challenging, and at times rebuking one another.
Before we dive into our study I want to offer a few resources that I will be using for this class.

Resources for the Class

First, the Holy Bible. As a church, we desire to live for God’s glory. As such, we want to follow the standards given to us by God, as revealed in the Bible. It is God’s Word, and as the LBCF reminds us, “The Authority of the Holy Scripture for which it ought to be believed dependeth not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the Author thereof; therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.” It makes sense, then, that what we believe about the church generally, and membership particularly, comes from the Bible.
Second, I will be referring to the London Baptist Confession of Faith 1689 primarily. Though this document is older, it is phenomenal for its brevity, depth, and dependence upon the Scriptures. I can think of no other human document that will prove to be as fruitful as this one.
Third, I will be referring to Principles and Practices for Baptist Churches: A Guide to the Administration of Baptist Churches by Edward T. Hiscox. This handbook for baptist churches is considered one of the standard works on baptist churches and their polity (government), and I will routinely quote from it.
Finally, I will be referring to two books that are connected. The first of these two is 9 Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever. He is the pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church, and has contributed much to the development of the health of local churches. The second is Church Membership: How the World Knows Who Represents Jesus by Jonathan Leeman. This book is smaller, but it deals with the subject addressed by Pastor Dever in one of his chapters.
I will, of course, refer to more books, articles, and Scripture during this study. It is designed to give you an idea of what we are as a church, what you can expect from us, and what we expect from you.
Church membership is a precious gift, and as the pastor of WCBC, I take the task of shepherding our members seriously. As such, these classes will follow this format.
First, there will be a series of videos for you to watch. In addition to the videos, you will complete a workbook (loosely called), writing down key concepts, Scriptures, and any questions you may have.
I am following this format for two reasons. First, in this busy world, I understand how difficult it is to devote an additional evening to something like this. As a man with a young family, I value family time. And I want to express my value by creating this for you to complete as you are able.
Secondly, I follow this format because I have served on staff at a church that required the completion of church membership classes. Now, don’t get me wrong, they were excellent classes. However, I saw that some people who were unable to complete the classes had to wait until the next round of classes. I believe this format will help alleviate that difficulty.

What is church membership?

We will begin this course with this general question, “What is church membership?” We want to answer this basic question before we dive into what church membership is at Warrior Creek Baptist Church. That question will demand the remainder of our time in this course.
Church membership is “a formal relationship between a church and a Christian characterized by the church’s affirmation and oversight of a Christian’s discipleship and the Christian’s submission to living out his or her discipleship in the care of the church.”— Jonathan Leeman, Church Membership: How the World Knows Who Represents Jesus, page 64.
This “clunky definition,” as Jonathan calls it, is thorough in its answer to our question.
When we think of church membership, so often we think of memberships at clubs. Thinking of a Sam’s Club membership, you pay a due and gain access to purchase bulk quantities of a variety of items. You can remove your membership at will, or you can retain your membership status (including the dues) and never utilize the benefits. There are absolutely no obligations on the member’s part (besides the dues).
But membership to a church, at least according to the Bible, is something entirely different. Consider the first mention of joining a church, found in the book of Acts.

The first mention of membership in the Bible- Acts 2:37-41

In this section of Scripture, Peter just finished his Pentecost sermon. God displayed His power and gave authority to the apostles’ message with the sign of tongues (a different topic for another time). As a result, Luke records the salvation of many of Peter’s hearers. The results are summarized in verse 41,
“So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.”
There is a progression here: hearing the Word preached, receiving the Word (salvation), baptism, and then addition to the church (i.e., church membership).
And, to add more material to this thought, Luke records again in verse 47, “And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
That is, God provided salvation to more individuals and these individuals were joining the church. They became church members. In other words, as Leeman reminds us, it was “a formal relationship between a church and a Christian.” (64)

I. Church Membership is a Formal Relationship between a Church and a Christian

Now, remember we are answering the question, “What is church membership?” generally. As such, our views in this lesson will be basic and cursory in nature. So, church membership is a formal relationship between a church and a Christian.
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