7 Things you need to know about becoming a member.
When we hear the word “membership” we might be thinking of paying membership fees and fulfilling the requirements and then we’ll receive the benefit of the club. Church membership is not about being part of a club, it’s far more than that, it’s being part of a global movement, a family that is invested in making disciples.
If you are considering becoming a member, here are some things you need to know.
1. You belong.
Church membership is a reflection of Scripture’s language concerning the nature of the church. Paul writes in Romans 12:4-5, “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” Paul is saying that in the same way your hand is a member of your body, so every Christian is membered with Jesus Christ and other Christians. We are literally a part of one another. When we realize this, placing membership in a local church becomes a natural extension of what it means to be and live as a Christian.
When you join a club or an association, it’s often all about being on a list or just having membership status. Once you are on the list or have that coveted “membership status” then the club exists to serve your needs. But being a member of our church is not about being on a list or having membership status, rather you are making a declaration that you are committing to be an active part of the body of believers. As a member, you will receive certain rights and privileges, but you also accept your responsibility to the body such as:
- Your commitment to regular attendance,
- to be involved in a small group,
- to serve using your time, treasure and talents and
- to support the church through prayer.
2. You are part of a body.
3. There are benefits to being a member.
Perhaps you may be wondering then, “why should I become a member?” Is there any benefit to becoming a member? Is there any difference between membership or just being an adherent?
Well there are benefits to becoming a member such as:
- Identification – By becoming a member you are identifying yourself as part of this particular body of believers.
- Support – Living the Christian life is challenging, as a member you have the security of knowing that you are part of a family who will walk with you.
- Protection – There are many false doctrines and teachers around wanting to lead you away from truth and into darkness. As a member, you receive the care and leadership of the elders who are called to care for you.
- Accountability -We are sinful by nature, and so we need to be held accountable so that we do not continue in our sinful ways. Members are to look out for one another to ensure that we “live a life worthy of the calling we have received.”
Our story starts in 1971 when a few families felt God calling them to start a ministry in Stellenbosch. Starting as a small fellowship, the church soon became a fully constituted Baptist church in 1976.
Since then, the church has grown and has ministered to people from different nationalities, ages and walks of life. Our focus has been to walk with Jesus as we walk with others, revealing Christ as we glorify God.
By becoming a member, you become part of this great story that God is authoring. It is no coincidence that you are here now, God has designed you to from part of this body so that our story may continue to impact generations to come.
4. You are part of a story.
5. You are part of a larger family.
By becoming a member of our church, you form part of a larger family that is spread all over the world. The Baptist family has been in existence since the 1600’s and is one of the largest Protestant groups in the world.
Stellenbosch Baptist Church is a member of the Baptist Union of Southern Africa and this means we enjoy the rights and responsibilities of being a member church. This includes:
- To support the Union financially as we work to bring the Gospel to all people in South Africa through missions, church planting, training of pastors and leaders and resourcing churches to fulfill the Great Commission
- To support the Union when there is a need, such as for disaster relief.
- We enjoy the support of other churches in our Union. We belong to a network of churches where we encourage and support one another.
- We enjoy protection and guidance on cultural issues such as Marriage, labour laws and other issues
As a member church we pay membership fees and we are involved in making decisions regarding the welfare and direction of the Baptist Union.
Just as we don’t have any spare body parts, so the church has no spare parts. This means that every person plays a vital part in the growth and ministry of the church. Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” This means that you have been created with specific gifts and talents that will benefit the body. And as each person plays their part, the whole body grows and impacts the he world.
You matter. We believe that God places people in our church for a purpose. You have an unique SHAPE that we need to be effective in our community, city and country. We would love to see you be involved in ministry and use your gifts and abilities to serve Christ. Who knows, without you, perhaps our church may not be as effective.
6. You matter.
7. There is a structure
For any organisation to thrive there needs to be a structure. Our structure looks different from others denominations, and though it’s not perfect (no structure is) it serves us well.
We believe in Congregational governance. This simply means that the final authority regarding decisions in the life of the church rests with the church members. Typically these decisions are made at one of our four General meetings throughout the year.
The church members elect Elders and Deacons to take the lead regarding the daily administration and ministry of the church. Elders are the Spiritual Leaders of the church and their focus is to lead the church under the Lordship of Christ. Deacons are elected to take care of the administrative duties as well as caring for people and property.