161 East Harper Avenue, Maryville, TN  865-984-0116

Church Membership

Why Join a Church

At Grace, we believe that church membership is important!  Although church membership is increasingly unpopular today, we see it as an important step in identifying yourself as a true follower of Christ and committing yourself to faithfully minister to an identifiable group of other believers with whom you worship regularly.

While many Christians are convinced that attending a church is important (it is, in fact, a biblical command – Heb 10:24-25) there are a large number who question the necessity of committing formally to a particular local body of believers.  After all, they say, “where is church membership found in the Bible.”  Our response would be, “everywhere!”  In fact, nearly every New Testament epistle was written to a specific city that contained one local church which clearly had some way to identify those who were a part of it and those who were not.  The fact that there was only one church in each city made this easier, but not unimportant.

In our day, most cities contain multiple local churches and it becomes even more important to know if a particular believer is committed to a church. Therefore we must have some formal means of identifying church members.

It is certainly true that the formal method of joining a church is not specified in Scripture, but for the following scriptural reasons we believer there must be some process.

A.  Biblical Responsibility to Elders and Church Leaders

The leaders must know who they are instructing (certainly not every believer in a given city), the congregation must know to whom they are submitting (certainly not every church leader in town).  The following verses mean nothing if there is not some kind of formal relationship between leaders and congregation.

  • Heb 13:7 Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.
  • Heb 13:17 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.

We cannot imitate the faith of a radio preacher we do not knowWayne Mack, To be or Not to Be a Church Member

B.  Clarifying the Difference Between Believers and Unbelievers

It is not possible to know if someone has been added to our number if we do not formalize church attendance in some way.  The church is to have believing membership, not just anyone who desires to join.

  • Ac 5:14 And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number,

C.  Orderliness in the Church

It is impossible to shepherd and oversee with excellence if there is no concept of who constitutes the sheep.

  • 1 Pe 5:1-2 Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness;

D.  Avoidance of Apostasy

The Bible is clear that one of the primary ways of determining if someone is continuing in the faith is whether or not they are committed to a local body of believers.  The apostle John says it this way:
“They went out from us (true believers in a church) but they were not really of us for if they had been with us they would have remained with us (in fellowship through a local church) but they went out so that it would be shown that they all are not of us” 1 John 2:19

E. Ministry Responsibilities and Privileges

1.  Physical presence
We must be physically present with other people in order to (accomplish the one anothers).  A Christian who is not committed to a local church and rarely meets with the same group of believers cannot fulfill these commands – Wayne Mack

Heb 10:24-25 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.

2.  Selectivity
We cannot fulfill the one-another commands of Scripture to everyone in a particular city.  We must have some way of knowing who is part of our “household of faith.”

We cannot possibly fulfill these commands to every person in the world…for this reason it is impossible for any believer to fulfill these biblical responsibilities without some kind of formal, regular, continuous relationshipWayne Mack, To be or Not to Be a Church Member

Ga 6:9-10  Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.  So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

F.  Accountability and Discipline

Church accountability and discipline are rendered largely ineffective without some kind of formal church structure.  A primary reason for church membership is the seeking of accountability to other members of the body of Christ.

Ga 6:1-2 Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.  Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.

Matthew 18:15-17 If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.  But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every act may be confirmed.  If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

How Does Church Membership Work at Grace

Following are the steps to church membership at Grace:

  1. Testify to having received believers baptism or be baptized at Grace
  2. Take the new members class – this is a three week class held on Sunday afternoons for two hours each.  We offer this course several times a year. (Please click here for session one of the new members class booklet; please click here for session two of the new members class booklet; and please click here for session three of the new members class booklet).
  3. Write out your testimony – we ask that each person who is planning to join Grace have a written testimony (between 1-3 pages) that describes your conversion (with the truth of the gospel clearly presented).
  4. Meet with an elder of your fellowship group leader to go over your testimony and answer any questions he may have.
  5. Submit your testimony to be reviewed by the church membership – we send them out via our email list.
  6. Affirm the church covenant in front of the gathered church body (usually Sunday morning).

What Do We Expect of Church Members at Grace

  1. Regularly attend the worship service on Sunday morning
  2. Give regularly
  3. Pray for the church regularly
  4. Use your gifts regularly by being involved in ministry in some way
  5. Seek to be a part of a fellowship group if at all possible