This past Sunday I issued a strong challenge for many long-term regular attenders to take the step of becoming “formal” members of Hope Chapel. Sometimes I hear the rationale that the Bible doesn’t mention membership and therefore they avoid it as something man-made. Others suggest that since they belong to the world-wide Church that they don’t need to belong to a local church. While I don’t think either of those positions are ultimately valid, I don’t want to debunk them directly, but offer the rationale on which Hope Chapel’s membership is based.
In 2 Timothy 2:2 Paul challenges Timothy to invest in a next generation of leaders to provide for the church’s future and to select those who are “faithful”. When a person enters membership at Hope they are given the privilege/responsibility of ensuring Hope’s future will center around fulfilling the Great Commission and the Great Commandments. But to honor this biblical challenge we need a process that defines what it means to be faithful. At Hope the faithful are understood to be ….
1. People who have a personal relationship with Christ through faith and have confessed that through baptism by immersion.
2. Individuals who specifically declare their agreement with the fundamental biblical teachings that define the Gospel.
3. People who personally testify that God has led them to Hope Chapel as their spiritual family.
4. People who specifically agree to handle themselves in a godly, grace-based manner, which is defined by the Church Covenant they agree to.
These four qualifications then have become our “requirements” for membership, all in the effort to entrust the future of the Gospel at Hope to “faithful” people.
If you meet those 4 characteristics, does it matter if you become a member? If there are others who are guarding the gate, so to speak, why do you need me? Here’s why? Being faithful to the Gospel and its ministry means that some roles can only be entrusted to folks who have been formally identified as the “faithful”. When people never take the time to be “confirmed” as one of the faithful, or specifically refuse to, the Kingdom loses. Their giftedness is not available to be used in certain servant leader roles at Hope. Or at any other church, for that matter, since they aren’t attending any other church. All of this is a shame, since the Church is the only divinely ordained institution with a God-given mission to change the world, and it loses when people don’t commit to being defined as the faithful.
Let me conclude by renewing my challenge. If you meet the qualifications above, then agree to be defined as “faithful” and become a member (and attend the Ministry Partner class on May 20th). If there is something about Hope which prevents you from becoming a member, for the sake of the Kingdom find a church where you can, so that your gifts and calling are fully available to the Kingdom.