For Those Considering Church Membership
[The following is the text of a publication of the same title.]
Thank you for considering membership of Newark Evangelical Church.
Who are we?
This Church is an independent evangelical church. Independent means that we are not part of a denominational structure. We are however, affiliated to the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches [FIEC].
‘Evangelical’ means that we hold firmly to the beliefs, outlined in summary, later in this booklet. In brief, evangelical means that we believe the Bible to be God’s Word to us and that it has the unique message of how a person is put right with God: Salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. The word evangelical has to do with Good News! We not only believe it but we aim to share it! (Matthew 28:19-20)
The purpose of any Christian is ultimately to bring glory to God as we delight ourselves in the LORD. (Psalm 37:4) Christians are not designed to delight in God alone, but as part of a local and active community of believers who meet for a variety of reasons: To study the Bible, to Pray, to hold Communion and to have Fellowship – all for mutual encouragement and growth in the Christian life. (Acts 2:42)
Part of our delight in all the LORD means to us, is a love for others. Therefore, a church should be a caring and supportive community for each other and for those outside it. We cannot truly love others, without also sharing the Good News about Jesus Christ!
Therefore a church should be an outreaching community of Christians.
Why church membership?
Every Christian is automatically a member of the world-wide Christian church. But in the New Testament, the pattern is that local Christians met in their localities! E.g. The church at Ephesus or Corinth. In the early days, baptism often occurred very soon after conversion, and would be seen as a decisive commitment to the local Christian church. (Acts 2:41-42)
Many churches have used a formal announcement of membership roll as an evidence of an individual’s firm commitment to that local church. We live in somewhat fickle times and, unlike in NT times, many more Christians are not originally local and locally known people. So there needs to be some accountability system built in—particularly when Christians maybe leaving unresolved issues in a former local church.
These are a few reasons why here at NEC we adopt the system of interviewing & then publicly and joyfully acknowledging new members!
Membership is only open to those who:
1. Profess repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
2. Bear evidence by their lives to the reality of their profession.
3. Accept the Church’s Basis of Faith contained in this booklet.
4. Have been interviewed, by the elder/s of the Church and subsequently recommended for membership.
5. Accept the pastoral care and authority of the Church elder/s.
6. Agree to respect and support the general ethos and outlook of the Church.
Removal from the ‘membership’ for a period dependent on the circumstances and any subsequent repentance, is an option for the elder/s for gross inconsistencies with the Christian Faith or for a prolonged absence. (Other than for illness or infirmity)
PRIVILEGES OF MEMBERS:
Members are warmly invited to attend Church Membership meetings to contribute ideas to the life of the Church, to help in the appointment of leaders.
Leadership roles in Church-life are only open to members.
Members are expected:
1. Be present as frequently as possible at the Sunday services and the church Prayer and Bible study meeting.
2. Pray for the leadership of the church, the other members and for the work of the church. According to gifts and time available, to take part in the work of the church.
3. Support the church by regular financial contributions ‘as the Lord has prospered them’.
4. Avoid unkindly criticism of fellow members, to promote the spirit of Christian love and unity in the church, and to regard as strictly confidential all matters pertaining to the private business of the church.
5. Show practical care and support for members where able.
Please note: All the Bible is the Word of God and to be held in respect and regarded as our authority.
There are Bible teachings which are essential for a person to be saved. E.g. What a Christian is and how a person gets right with God; The Person and nature of God and in particular His Son, Jesus Christ. There can be no give and take on these core issues.
There is clear teaching on Christian living—that we must live holy lives. We cannot give way on the need for the church to honour God with our speech and behaviour.
Sometimes we may not agree on the precise application of these truths. In other areas of the Bible, there are a variety of views based on different approaches in interpretation. E.g. The details of events associated with the End Times.
We can still be healthy Christians and hold a variety of views in such areas. For want of a better phrase, these are often referred to as ‘secondary issues’. Whilst we believe that we should continue to develop an accurate understanding of all the Bible and that such a search will be edifying, we also see the need for patience and grace with each other. Basically, there are issues over which we have no reason to divide if love and respect is shared.
With God’s help and your prayerful cooperation we seek to glorify God by our unity in diversity in ‘secondary issues’ and in a firm stand together on ‘primary’ – things essential for Salvation and Christian living.