Why be a Church Member?
The ‘Church’, with a capital ‘C’ is made up of all of God’s people from “every tribe, people, language and nation” (Revelation 7:9). They are joined in fellowship with Him to bring about His purposes, which are to make Himself and His wisdom known and thereby glorify Himself throughout the entire world. (Ephesians 3:10, 21, Acts 1:8) As the church fulfills its mission, and new believers come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, not only are they rescued by God and forgiven of their sins, they live out their lives as members of His Church, His family. (Acts 2:38-47)
Though all Christians belong to the worldwide Church, each must take the next step of joining a local congregation because God connects us to Him and our life purpose in the context of com-munity. God is the Creator of all things, and He made each of us for a purpose. The Bible tells us that Christians are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works which He has prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). Being out of Christ and out of the community he died for frustrates what God wants for us and from us.
When a nail needs to be driven into a wall, a particular tool is necessary to get the job done properly. If a wrench is used to hammer the nail, most likely the nail will be bent, the wrench will be damaged and someone will get hurt. Though one might blame the wrench for all of the harm, the problem is that the wrong tool was used for the job. The purpose of a wrench is not to drive nails.
Many times when we are not involved in a local church, we try to discover ourselves through other various harmful ways. We then run the risk not only of ruining our lives but the lives of others. Because we are operating outside of what we were designed for, we lose the purpose and power God has implanted in our life. We lose our direction and we lose our ability to love and care for others as He would have us do. Since Jesus came and died so that “those who are made holy are of the same family” (Hebrews 2:11), we should live our new, Christian lives as members of a genuine family-like fellowship. It is a key part of God’s purpose for each one of us.
One of the key components of being the body of Christ means that all body parts rely on each other. We are interdepend-ent. We need each other and belong to one another, which means that we are not alone as we walk the Christian path. As we are involved in a Bible-believing church, not only will we discover God’s plan for our life and who we are in Christ, but we will also be cared for and have the purpose and value of caring for others.
The Church, with all its members, serves as the body of Christ on earth. When that body loves the Father and its fellow man, through the display of its God-given gifts, it is demonstrating God’s wisdom to an unbelieving world, and thereby fulfilling its purpose.
Membership Q & A
Why does Southside have “members”?
Membership identifies those who want to be identified with Southside’s people and mission. Southside Baptist is a church, and the Bible uses the metaphor of the human body to describe the church (Romans 12:3-8 and 1 Corinthians 12). It is a beautiful illustration of how we’re each created to serve different functions, but also serves to distinguish us and our God-given mission from other local congregations each carrying out their task within the larger body of Christ. We need everyone to fully function as the member they are created to be in order to be a healthy body, and all of us as separate parts find purpose and unity under Jesus, “the head of the body, the church.” (Colossians 1:18)
What’s the difference between a member and somebody who just attends every week?
At Southside, we make a distinction between ‘members’ and ‘guests’. If you’re not a member, then you’re technically a guest that remains to a certain extent separated from our church family, and separated from the maturity, protection, accountability, and care that comes with being an active part of the church. This may not make much difference for non-Christians, but Christians who sit on the sidelines rather than commit to a local church do a dis-service to Jesus’ body and themselves. Members, on the other hand, participate as the church: sacrificing time, talents, and treasure; committing to the care and community of their fellow members; and submitting to the authority God has established to lead our congregation. (1 Jn. 3:16-18)
Why should I become a member?
Scripture calls us a body, a family, a household. Being a Christian is not a solo effort. Consider the possibility of a husband and wife, who many years ago had been married, but since their wedding day, had not spent one day together, but had separate homes, separate interests, and separate lives in every respect. Could these two people truly be said to be married? Yes, they had a marriage license, an anniversary date, and the same last name but without sharing life together, are they in any real sense husband and wife? Similarly, can brothers and sisters in the Lord who don’t share a common life with their faith family truly be said to be part of Jesus’ body? Jesus works through the church, His body, and apart from Jesus, you can do nothing (John 15:1-8).
What are the benefits of being a member?
We here at Southside strive to be a family, adopted by God. We care for each other, pray for each other, and serve a lost world together. If you’re already a Christian and already giving of your finances and your time, then you’re already fulfilling some of the functions of a member. Without making an official commitment to us and us to you, however, we cannot provide the same level of pastoral care, community support, and opportunities for you to engage your gifts and talents for God’s cause. This may be in part because we may not know who you are, but also because the Bible requires that we take care of our family first. (Galatians 6:9, 10)
Steps to Become a Member
There are four steps to church member-ship which typically covers a time span of three months. Between the time someone indicates that they want to explore membership until the day they officially join with us, they are referred to as ‘provisional members’, meaning they can join in all of the church activities with the exception of committees and leadership. During this time, one of our church elders, along with our Membership Committee, will guide provisional members along their journey to full membership. The four steps are:
1. BECOME A CHRISTIAN
Southside members are required to be professing Christians who believe and have faith in Jesus as God and Savior that has led them to follow Him in baptism. Some consider themselves Christian because it’s a common American religious identity, because they grew up in church, or feel that they are a “good person” who believes in God. But as in all things, we must let God; not culture define what being a Christian means. God’s word, the Bible, says that Christians are those who have recognized their sin, believed that Jesus is God’s Son and has risen from the dead, and asked Him to be both Lord and Savior. It is these who are in God’s eternal family and who can then become members of this local body of believers (Romans. 6:1-7, 10:9-13). Without taking care of this, the rest of the steps don’t mean much.
2. ATTEND THE INTRODUCTORY CLASSES
Recognizing the value of membership, both to the individual and the congregation, Southside offers Membership and Discipleship classes to help you understand fully who we are as a church, what we believe, and how we operate. It is also a great chance to meet others and get to know church leaders. We believe it is important for everyone to know these things so that you can discern the Lord’s will for you, and make an informed decision about membership.
3. CONNECT WITH YOUR NEW CHURCH
Meanwhile, attending on Sundays should not be seen as an obligation to keep in good standing with God or to impress others, but is a moment at the first of the week to worship our God, hear from His word, and experience the fellowship of His family. Additional opportunities to connect include joining a life group or church ministry. Church membership is so much more than having your name on our mailing list. It means building meaningful bonds with likeminded believer-friends, creating true fellowship in Christ, with that it includes.
4. CONFIRMATION BY THE CONGREGATION
Finally, the congregation confirms your membership at the next quarterly business meeting. Following this step, you are introduced to the congregation on a Sunday morning and made a full member.
If you have any further questions about membership, contact an elder or the church office at 256-539-0621.