On Saturday evening, we spent some time talking and answering questions with our Nueva Vida Congregation about what it means to get involved and be part of Bearwood Chapel. I thought it might be helpful to share the main points I made here:
1. Our first concern is for you to have a relationship with Jesus Christ, for him to be Lord of your life and for you to have assurance of forgiveness for sin. Church is not a social club nor is membership and activity a means for being right with God or finding meaning and satisfaction. We are saved by grace alone.
2. If you have put your trust in Jesus then it is important to get baptised. Baptism is the public, outward profession of our faith. This is not an optional extra, nor is it something we work towards when we feel more ready. Baptism is the statement that we now belong to Jesus.
3. If you are already part of a local church and a member there, we are not trying to get people to swap church alliances. We are part of the same body and not in competition. Our priority is to see people who don’t know Jesus and are not yet part of a church to respond in faith to the Gospel.
4. We ask those who are publicly professing faith in Jesus to become church members. This is simply a way of saying that we are part of the church family here, that we are accountable to one another, that we all submit to God’s Word and that we are willing to serve God here. Church membership is important because we make decisions together as a church family not leaving things to one or two leaders. We want to make sure that the whole church is involved in these decisions and that those making decisions are believers in Jesus who are committed to the body here. Examples of decisions we have made together include
-The decision to call me as a pastor to Bearwood in 2010
– The decision to begin adding new congregations
– Agreeing to purchase the community café building
-Sad and difficult decisions relating to church discipline where there has been public and unrepentant sin.
-Recent decisions about bringing in new leaders and paid workers.
5. There is a very simply process for doing this.
-Let one of the elders know that you want to become a member
-Two elders will hear your testimony about how you put your trust in Jesus and about your ongoing life as a believer
-If you have moved from another congregation, we like to try and contact the elders at that church. This means that they can commend you to us. It shows that we are part of the same wider church family and are not trying to compete with them. It also helps to identify if there are any outstanding issues or ongoing pastoral care.
If you are reading this and attend Bearwood Chapel, we would encourage you to talk to one of the elders about becoming a member. If you are attending another church somewhere else we would encourage you to talk to the leaders there about what it means to be a member of the local church.