The Church is its Members
A church is not a building or a service on Sunday morning. A church is the people who gather together in that building for a Sunday morning worship service. The New Testament refers to the church as the body of Christ. Those who have repented and believed in Christ are all individual members of His body (1 Corinthians 12:12-13).
The church is like an embassy in a foreign country that is on mission to represent its home. An embassy sets out to affirm those who are citizens of its country and offers them the same privileges and protection while away from home. The church is God’s embassy sent on mission to represent Heaven on Earth. Believers are given new life and become citizens of His Heavenly Kingdom. Together as the church they are sent out on mission to represent God’s kingdom on earth. Therefore, the church affirms our Heavenly citizenship and offers us the privileges and protection of His kingdom on earth. This makes church membership very meaningful.
Meaningful Covenant Membership
Membership in the church is totally different than casual membership in a social club, store, or YMCA for that matter. Those memberships usually come with status and privilege. When we are unhappy we can easily drop our membership and go somewhere else. Not so in the church. Our membership in the church is much more meaningful.
Membership in the church is not simply a monthly commitment, but a covenant between two groups, the individual and church as a whole. It’s more about what you can give to the church than what you can get from the church. It is a meaningful covenant for the glory of God, our good, and others salvation. Jonathan Leeman writes in his book Church Membership, “Church membership is a formal relationship between a Church and a Christian characterized by the church’s affirmation and oversight of a Christian’s discipleship and the Christian’s submission to living out his or her discipleship in the care of the church.”
We are all born with a sinful nature and left spiritually dead in our sins (Ephesians 2:1-3). However, for those who have been saved by grace through faith, God has brought them from death to life and given them a second nature (Ephesians 2:4-5). They have been born again and have been given new life in the gospel. Not only has he given us Second Nature Life as a gift, but he unites them with everyone else who has received this gift in the church to represent Him and his Kingdom as they live out their gospel lifestyle (Ephesians 4:10).
Membership at The Fields then has a twofold purpose:
- to affirm those who have repented and believed in Christ for their salvation and therefore have been given Gospel Life
- to help one another grow to become more like Christ as we are sent out on mission to represent Him in our Gospel Lifestyle
The membership class is usually scheduled a couple times throughout the year at 8:45am on Sunday mornings during Field Training. It is centered around the vision and mission of our church. There will be six sessions covering Church, Worship, Discipleship, Missions, Gospel, and Community. These sessions should give you a detailed look into our church and give you an opportunity to ask any questions. The membership class is a requirement for membership at The Fields; but you don't have to proceed with the rest of the membership process.
During the membership class, you will be responsible for several homework assignments:
- Gospel Life Stories / Gospel Life Stories (fillable) | Write out God’s Story of the gospel and Your Story of how God saved you through faith in the gospel.
- Gospel Lifestyle / Gospel Lifestyle (fillable) | Think intentionally and practically about how you will commit yourself to God and his church by growing to become more like Christ and living on mission for his kingdom.
- Statement of Faith | Read over our statement of faith, summarized by the 18 articles of the New Hampshire Confession of 1833, and sign it in affirmation of our core beliefs.
- The Fields Church Covenant | Read and sign our membership covenant as a commitment to God and one another in the church.
We will also give you Thabiti Anyabwile’s book What is a Healthy Church Member at our Membership Class. We encourage you to read this book to help you as you walk through this membership process. David Platt’s book Follow Me is also a great help in considering what a Gospel Lifestyle looks like.
Baptism is a believer’s public declaration of faith in Jesus Christ. It's the outward sign of the inward reality of a believer. Though baptism isn’t necessary for salvation, it is a requirement for membership The Fields Church since Christ himself commanded us to be baptized.
Click here to learn more about baptism or to schedule a time to be baptized.
ELDER FOLLOW UP
After all your homework is completed, you will need to schedule an Elder Follow Up. Here you will meet with an elder to go over your homework assignments, share a simple version of the gospel (God’s Story) and your testimony (Your Story), sign the membership covenant, and ask any questions you may have. If you have shown a clear understanding of the Gospel, a clear profession of faith, and a clear plan to walk in faith, the elder will present you to the church for affirmation at the next Member's Meeting, scheduled every other month.
The current members of the church affirm new members into the church. At the next member's meeting, the names of any who have completed the membership process will go before the members for prayer and consideration. Then, the church will vote to affirm each new member based on the their testimony of faith in Christ and their agreement with our statement of faith and church covenant.
On the following Sunday, each affirmed member will be presented to the entire church and we will read the covenant aloud together. This is a time of celebration and a good reminder of the covenant we have made with one another.