Policy on Ministry Involvement of Members &
(Approved 7/15/2001 Amended 10/12/2004
Though our society is becoming increasingly resistant to making commitments which has resulted in many that view formal membership as an unnecessary legalistic burden, we believe that the following three Biblical principles make membership important.
1) The Need for Commitment to a Local Church.
Hebrews 10:24,25 states, “and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.” The context of “the assembling together” is the local body of believers in which the commands can be carried out. The many “one another” commands are given either directly to a local church or are intended to help those churches fulfill God’s will.
The New Testament does not indicate any true believer not being part of a local church. Even itinerant ministers such as Paul and Barnabas were sent out from a local church (Acts 13:1-3). Uniting with a local church is both the reasonable response of those professing belief in Jesus Christ, and it is the means by which the various gifts in the Body of Christ can all work together (1 Corinthians 12).
2) The Obligation of Obedience to the Leaders of a Local Church.
1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 states the importance of esteeming and appreciating “those who have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction.” Hebrews 13:17 adds, “Obey your leaders, and submit to them: for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.” Those in the church should not only obey their leaders (excluding sin and heresy), but they should also strive to make it as easy as possible for them to shepherd the flock. Church membership helps accomplish this for the following reasons.
A. Membership helps clarify the difference between believers and unbelievers. While it cannot distinguish between who is and who is not a
genuine Christian, for there are tares among the wheat (Mt. 13), it does set a means by which someone is to be considered a part of the covenant community of professing Christians or not. This helps the church with issues in which identification as a Christian is important such as marriage, leadership qualifications, and church discipline.
B. Membership causes the visible church to better reflect the invisible
church. The church’s testimony is enhanced when only those who have given a credible testimony of faith in Christ are considered part of it.
C. Membership is essential to an orderly administration of the church. The church is not a loose collection of individuals doing whatever they want. It is likened to a human body (1 Cor. 12) in which each part works in harmony. This requires identification of and commitment from those who actually belong to that body.
D. Membership promotes involvement from those on the “fringes.” It makes one aware of opportunities to serve and encourages a choice between being committed and uncommitted.
E. Membership provides an opportunity to educate people about the nature and distinctives of the church. By going through our church’s Statement of Faith, Constitution & Covenant in our membership class, we can make sure that potential members are fully aware of our beliefs and practices before they make a commitment and identify themselves with us.
3) The Privileges of Partnership
The commitment to identify with and become part of a local body of believers brings with it the following benefits.
A) Ministry Opportunities. Membership opens the door to all ministries
including leadership positions, provided Biblical qualifications for those
ministries are met. Non-members are properly restricted from ministries of teaching, leadership, oversight, and representation which can only be
entrusted to those who state their agreement with our Statement of Faith and commit themselves to work in unity with us. Non-members may not be “in charge” of any ministry, but they may work under the direction of a church member.
B) Helpful Service. Galatians 6:10 tells us to “Do good to all men, and
especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” The church has
limited resources to meet unlimited needs. Our first priority of service is to those who are part of the body and then to those outside.
C) Loving Accountability. Commitment to the local church increases
involvement and depth of relationships in which true fellowship occurs,
including greater accountability in walking with Christ. Membership makes it clear which sheep belong to the fold and should be lovingly brought back into it when they stray.
Everyone that attends G.B.C. will be treated with grace, but it must be
understood that those who have not pursued membership are properly restricted from the privileges of membership.
Ministry Involvement Opportunities for Non-Members
While there are ministry restrictions for non-members as noted above, there are still many opportunities for non-members to have ministry involvement with Grace Bible Church including the following:
*Physical care of the facilities and grounds.
*Cleaning, facility repair and improvements, landscaping, lawn mowing, etc.
*Assisting members in their ministries.
*Assisting teachers in any of our programs, all non-teaching/leadership
positions (such as games, crafts, kitchen, nursery and child care helpers, etc.), community outreach efforts, office help, etc.
*Carrying out the many “one another” commands of Scripture:
Hospitality, helping one another, caring for one another, loving one
another, encouraging one another, admonishing one another, bearing one another’s burdens, serving one another, forbearing one another, etc.
*Occasional Special Ministries with Permission of the Elders.
We desire non-members to use their gifts, so they may on occasion present special music or teach when given specific permission by the Pastor or appropriate Elder for the particular event.
Involvement in any ministry of G.B.C. by non-members and those from other churches must also meet any specific requirements set by the particular ministry. Locally living former members or regular attenders of G.B.C. may be involved in G.B.C. ministries only with special permission by the G.B.C. elders.