Many people today wonder why a person should be a church member.  They sometimes feel that joining a church feels a lot like joining a club and it does not feel right to think of the church as just some kind of club.  People may also wonder why anyone needs to join a church.  It is not necessary to have membership to be able to worship, or pray, or to serve the lord.  As we all know, there are a great many people today who love Jesus but do not care much for the church.  They rightly ask, “can’t I love Jesus without joining a church?”

All of these thoughts and questions are important, and we think you deserve some answers.  So here are some of our responses to your questions in a Q and A sort of format.

Question:  Where does the church come from?

Answer:  Jesus is the founder and head of the church.  See Matthew 16:13-20 Colossians 1:18

Question:  Is the church like a club?

Answer:  No.  The church is quite different from a club.  The goal of the church is to be a continuing way for Christ to be present on earth and to do His work.  Since He is the head of the church, the church is His body doing the things that He commands us to do.

Question:  Is the church basically a building where people worship?

Answer:  No.  Even though all of us talk about the building used for worship with the word “church” the building is really not the church.  Church actually means the people who gather in that particular location.  Church is people not buildings.

Question:  Who are the people who could be called “church?”

Answer:  The Bible uses the word church in at least two ways: (1) church is used to mean all the people who have given their lives to God in Christ Jesus.  Using the word this way would mean all believers of all times and this gathering of church can only be seen in heaven.  Often the Bible uses the word this way like in Ephesians 5:25, (2) church is also used to mean a local congregation of people living and serving Christ in a limited geographical region.  The Bible in Acts 13:1 uses the word in this way.

Question:  Who is part of the church as the universal people of God as used in Ephesians 5:25?

Answer:  Everyone who has trusted in Jesus as savior and Lord (Acts 16:31); who has been born again (John 3:7); whose name has been written in the Lamb’s book of life (Revelation 21:27).  These are three ways to say the same things.  All who give their lives to Jesus are part of this great number of the saved.  Belonging to Jesus is the one and only way to be a part of this Body of Christ.

Question:  Who is a part of the church as the word is used in Acts 13:1 – in a local identifiable congregation of people here on earth?

Answer:  The process for identification with a local church through the 2000 years of church history has varied.  There has always been some way to differentiate between those who identify with the congregation and those who do not.  Church bodies that consider baptism as the way to salvation (such as Catholic, Orthodox, Episcopalian) make baptism the rite of passage into the church.  Church bodies (like Baptist) who consider baptism to be only for believers and as a sign that the one being baptized is a born again follower of Christ (so baptism is a testimony about faith not the initiation of faith) tend to make voluntary membership the way to differentiate between those who identify with the congregation and those who do not.

Question:  Is voluntary membership part of what Baptists call Congregational Polity?

Answer:  Yes, and this is an important part of why Baptists still stress membership.  Congregational polity means Baptist people are all equal in the decision making of the local congregation.  Baptists do not empower a bishop to rule the church.  Neither do we empower a small group of leaders to rule the church.  We believe that every believer has equal voice in decision making.  Decision making includes choosing a pastor, approving matters of church business, and setting values for the congregation.  That is a complicated way to more simply say, everyone in the congregation has the right to vote on the matters of local church life.

Question:  Must I be a member to worship?

Answer:  No.  Everyone is welcome to worship with us.

Question:  Must I be a member to serve?

Answer:  No.  People who are not members may serve in a great many areas of church life.

Question:  Must I be a member to vote?

Answer:  Yes.  Membership is the step that gives one who attends the privilege of voting in the business matters of the congregation.

Question:  How can I become a member of the church?

Answer:  There are three possible ways to become a member of the FBC of Jasper.

  1. A person who has never made the decision to trust Jesus as savior and Lord can make that first time decision and upon this profession of faith can follow the Lord in baptism and request membership in the church.
  2. A person who has made a profession of faith in another congregation of like faith and order can transfer their membership from that other congregation to our church fellowship. This is called “transfer of letter.”
  3. A person who has made a profession of faith in another congregation and has been baptized in obedience to the command of Christ but has no letter of membership to transfer can become a member on that person’s statement of faith. This is called a “statement of faith.”