Biblical Expectations for membership
- Many churches have a great number of people on their membership rolls that show little or no evidence of Christian commitment or even of genuine conversion.
- Many churches find it difficult to motivate members to give, serve, pray, and share their faith. Why?
- The answer is simple: The members were allowed to "join the church" without having any expectations placed upon them.
- There is one difference between attenders and members, and it can be summed up in one word: commitment!
The Example of Marriage
- A marriage causes one to move from an acquaintance level relationship into a committed relationship with another person.
- This analogy holds true in the Christian's life. When a person becomes a Christian, he commits himself to Christ, and when he becomes a church member, he commits himself to other Christians.
Three Types of Commitment
- Paul mentions three types of commitment in 2 Corinthians 8:5, "First they gave themselves to the Lord; then they, by God's will, gave themselves to us as well."
- These are the primary commitments. At Harvest Life International, you give yourself to Christ, then to your church family, and then to your pastor/leaders.
The Example of Fellowship
- Koinonia is a biblical Greek word that translates into the English word fellowship. The love that believers show towards one another through fellowship is a mark of true discipleship (John 13:33-35).
- 1 John 3:16 says "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers".
What is Covenant?
- At Harvest Life International, we only expect what the Bible clearly expects from all believers. These expectations are summarized in our Membership Covenant.
- Throughout the Bible as well as Church history, spiritual covenants have been made between people for mutual edification and accountability.
- Revisiting the marriage example above, we see that the most important part of a marriage ceremony is when the man and woman exchange vows. Before God and human witnesses they make certain promises to each other. This covenant between them is the essence of the marriage. In the same way, we believe the essence of church membership is contained in the willingness to commit to a membership covenant.
Biblical Requirements for Membership
- A personal confession of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior
- Baptism by immersion as a public symbol of one's faith
- Baptism (or seeking to be baptized) in the Holy Spirit for power to witness (Acts 2:4)
- A signed commitment to abide by Harvest Life International's membership covenant
HARVEST LIFE INTERNATIONAL MEMBERSHIP COVENANT
Having received Christ as my Lord and Savior, having been baptized, and being in agreement with Harvest Life International's statements of biblical commitment, strategy, and structure, I now feel led by the Holy Spirit to unite with the Harvest Life International Church family. In doing so, I commit myself to God and to the other members, and I come into covenant to do the following:
I Will Protect the Unity of My Church:
- By acting in love toward other members—"See that you love one another with a pure heart fervently" (1 Peter 1:22).
- By refusing to gossip—"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only that helpful for building others up according to their needs..." (Ephesians 4:29).
- By following the leaders—"Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be no advantage to you" (Hebrews 13:17).
I Will Share the Responsibility of My Church:
- By praying for its growth—"To the Church... We always thank God for you and pray for you constantly" (1 Thessalonians 1:1-2).
- By inviting the unchurched to attend—"The Master said to the servant, 'Go out to the roads and country lanes, and urge the people there to come so my house will be full (Luke 14:23)'"
- By warmly welcoming those who visit—"Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God" (Romans 15:7).
I Will Serve the Ministry of My Church:
- By using my gifts and talents—"Each one should use whatever gifts he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace..." (1 Peter 4:10).
- By being equipped to serve by my leaders—"God gave some as apostles...prophets...evangelists...pastors and teachers to prepare God's people for works of ministry, so that the body of Christ may be built up" (Ephesians 4:11-12).
- By developing a servant's heart—"Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Jesus Christ...who took on the very nature of a servant..." (Philippians 2:4, 5, 7).
I Will Support the Testimony of My Church:
- By attending faithfully—"Let us not give up the habit of meeting together... but let us encourage one another" (Hebrews 10:25).
- By living a godly life—"But whatever happens, make sure that your everyday life is worthy of the gospel of Christ" (Philippians 1:27).
- By tithing and giving regularly—"Each one of you, on the first day of the week, should set aside a specific sum of money in proportion to what you have earned and use it for the offering" (1 Corinthians 16:2). "A tenth of all your produce is the Lord's and it is holy" (Leviticus 27:30).