Since the Bible serves as the supreme authority for discerning all matters of faith and conduct in our church, we regard express and visible membership as a vital part of church life. You see, it’s clear that Christians in the 1st Century made a distinction between members of their church on the one hand and visitors on the other. And obviously, they didn’t place the same expectations or extend the same privileges to both groups! (If you’re curious about this idea then check out 1 Corinthians 14:23-24; 5:12-13; 2 Corinthians 2:6-7; and 1 Timothy 5:3-16.)
A church simply cannot act biblically without being able to recognize its own members, and we certainly want to walk in the wisdom of God’s Word and submit to His will here at LCoB. Consequently, we have established a visible four-step process by which one can join LCoB.
1. The Membership Class
All those seeking to become members of LCoB must first attend our Membership Matters class. The curriculum is composed of six one-hour classes entitled:
- Nature of the Church – What is a church and why should I join one?
- Statement of Faith – What do we believe?
- Church Covenant – How do we commit to live?
- Relational Commitments – How do we commit to live (cont.)?
- Church History – How did we get here?
- Affiliation & Governance – What is the significance of our SBC affiliation & how do we operate as a local church?
This course is offered periodically through the year. Upon completion, those who have attended all six classes are then able (but not obligated) to sign up for a membership interview, the second step of the membership process.
2. A Membership Interview
In a 30-45 minute meeting, the prospective member meets with an elder to provide basic information about him/herself, recount God’s converting work in his or her own life, and sign a Membership Affirmations document (in which the person affirms LCoB’s essential documents as well as his or her own personal faith in Christ).
In a nutshell, we cover what we call the Four B’s:
- Believer – The person has a basic understanding of the Gospel and trusts in Jesus alone for salvation.
- Baptized – The person has been or is willing to be baptized as a believer by immersion.
Beliefs – The person can affirm our basic Statement of Faith.
- Behavior – The person is willing to commit to the biblical expectations expressed in our Church Covenant, Relational Commitments, and Constitution.
Once this is complete the person can elect to move to the next step toward membership, the elders’ recommendation.
3. The Elders’ Recommendation
At a regularly scheduled Elders’ Meeting, the elder(s) who conducted the membership interview will review the applicant’s testimony with the other elders. Upon their approval, the candidate’s application proceeds to the next step, congregational affirmation.
4. Congregational Affirmation
During a Member’s Meeting, an elder briefly describes the applicant’s desire to be admitted to membership along with the biblical basis for the congregation’s approval (viz., the person’s faith in Christ and affirmation of LCoB’s guiding documents). Questions are fielded, a vote is taken, and upon the agreement of three-quarters of the Members, the person is admitted into membership.