ABOUT CHURCH MEMBERSHIP
First, let us say thank you for your interest in church membership at Grace. It is always an encouragement to know that people are excited about what God is doing in the ministry of this church and desire to become a committed part of that ministry.
Please note that couples who are interested in membership should each complete an individual application.
We are often asked, “What is church membership?”
We believe that church membership is a decision by a born-again Christian to associate with a local expression of the universal Body of Christ in a commitment to follow and obey what the New Testament commands of believers. Broadly, this means that members will commit to uphold what the church teaches, will use the spiritual gifts that God has entrusted to the believer in this ministry, will give financially to support the ministry, will live in community with other believers, and will submit to the local church leadership that God has established.
While the New Testament has no membership process, it also does not recognize a Christian living outside the context of a local church. To be a Christian in the early church was to be “added to their number” (Acts 5:14; 16:5) and to be committed to the local church through active service. Therefore, the practice of being ‘committed’ to a local church is not debatable in the New Testament. The challenge for us is that the early church had only one option: the local expression where each person lived. In the greater Richmond area there are more than one thousand churches from which to choose. Because of this fact, we have adopted a membership process to enable us to know those who are aligning themselves with this body of believers at Grace Bible Church.
Furthermore, as Elders of Grace Bible Church, God commands us and holds us accountable to “shepherd the flock of God among us.” (1 Peter 5:1) Numerous demands occur on our time as Elders; however, we believe that a commitment to church membership is an effective way to assist us in identifying those among us whom we should be shepherding. If you are interested in a fuller treatment of our position on membership, please access from our website the sermon “Church Membership.”
Those unfamiliar with church membership often ask, “What is entailed in the process at Grace Bible Church?”
As John Piper has appropriately said about his own church, “We don’t want membership in the local church to be more difficult than membership into the universal church.”
That means local church membership should not require more than being a Christian. We affirm that wholeheartedly. As a result, we have structured our membership process with that in mind.
If you would like to pursue membership at GBC each individual will need to complete and submit an online application available here or submit a written Application (pdf - includes a ministry survey) to the Church Office. Once your application is received one of the Elders will meet with you to hear your salvation testimony, discuss any questions you might have about the church and how God has gifted you to be a part of the body of Christ. If it is clear that your trust is firmly planted in Jesus Christ, then one of the Elders will introduce you as a member of GBC to the congregation on a Sunday morning.
There is one clarifying note of explanation regarding the Membership Application. Working through the document you will see the question, “Have you thoroughly read What We Teach?”
What We Teach is comprised of the complete doctrine and Bylaws of Grace Bible Church and may be found here on the web site. Under What We Teach, you will find the complete three parts of What We Teach: Statement of Faith, Church Bylaws, and Relational Peacemaking Commitments.
We are thankful that you are considering becoming a member of our fellowship and we look forward to serving with you in the body of Christ.
Praying for God’s richest blessings upon you,
The Elders of Grace Bible Church
Brian Barber, Bill Cross, Jack Dove, Charles Piper, Rob Reverski, Bill Street, Rick Zaman