The Meaning of Membership, Vows, and Expectations

KCBC Membership Class 4

The Meaning of Membership

What is membership according to KCBC’s bylaws? Article IV (Adopted 9/13/2020) of Kittredge Community Church’s bylaws says:

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 commitment to living out his or her discipleship in the care of the church. A church member, therefore, is someone who is formally recognized as a Christian and a part of Christ’s universal body. It is the belief of Kittredge Community Bible Church (KCBC) that the Bible encourages all Christians to become formal members of a biblical local church (1 Peter 5:2-3; Acts 20:28; Hebrews 13:17; Matthew 16:15-19).

Let’s look at the verses referenced in the statement.

1 Peter 5:2-3 “Shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.”

Our reasoning with this verse is that because the command to the elders is to “shepherd the flock” and “exercise oversight” then it is essential for the elders to know who the flock is. Is the flock made up of people who show up one time? Two times? What about those who attend the church down the street or live in another country? The point is that church needs to know who they are officially “exercising oversight” over.

Acts 20:28 “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”

Again, who makes up the flock? To be apart of the flock means you have an “overseer”, another human being who is checking up on you. This isn’t by the will of men but by the will of Christ who purchased you with his blood.

Hebrews 13:17 “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.”

Which leaders are we to submit to and obey? Are all leaders in the general vicinity of where you live going to be held accountable for your soul? Practically speaking Church membership is an absolute necessity if we are going to know who to submit to and also who is keeping watch over us.

Matthew 16:15-19 “Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ 17 And Jesus said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.’”

In giving Peter “the keys of the kingdom” Christ has given the church the authority to determine who is a part of the kingdom. The church doesn’t eternally save a person but a kingdom has a government and the church has a role in that government granted to her by Jesus Christ. “Keys” provide access to something and in this case the church has been given the authority to identify those who are, and are not, a part of the kingdom. This is done through the practice of membership.

It’s a common practice for Christians to want to submit only to His authority and not to any "lesser” human authority. But it is Christ’s will for us to submit to lesser human authority.

Some common excuses include: “As soon as I join they will make me serve more. As soon as I join they will tell me what to do. As soon as I join I’ll be expected to give more. If I join then I have to give up some of my beliefs.”

Have you ever made these kind of excuses?

Vows

What are KCBC's membership vows according to Article IV?

1. Do you acknowledge yourself to be one who sins in the sight of God, justly deserving His displeasure, and without hope except in His sovereign mercy?

2. Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and Savior of sinners, and do you receive and rest upon Him alone for salvation as He is offered in the Gospel?

3. Do you now resolve and promise, in humble reliance upon the grace of the Holy Spirit, that you will endeavor to live as is fitting for a follower of Christ?

4. Do you promise to support the church in its worship and work to the best of your ability?

5. Do you promise to love all the other members, bearing their burdens and sharing their joys?

6. Do you submit yourself to the government and discipline of the church, and promise to strive for building up the body of Christ?

If vows are important in the human institution of marriage how much more important are they for our relationship with the church? Paul, after explaining the relationship between a husband and wife, says in Ephesians 5:21-32 “This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.”

Vow number one is the most basic and if we don’t get that one right all the other ones will be impossible to keep. Humility, rightly understanding that we are completely without hope without Christ, puts how we ought to treat other believers in proper perspective.

Vow number six is the most difficult because no one like to submit themselves to other people. Yet, this is God’s will for us and if we seek to obey Jesus as Lord we will desire to submit to those he has placed in charge of us through formal church membership.

Expectations

What are the expectations of membership according to Article IV?

Members are expected to attend church regularly (Heb. 10:25) and strive conscientiously to live according to the truth revealed in the Word of God by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:3-10; John 16:13), to contribute to its material support as they are able (2 Cor. 9:7), to support whole-heartedly the services and activities of the church to build each other up in Christ (1 Cor. 14:12, 26), and to submit to the discipline of the church (Heb. 13:17).

Let’s look at the referenced verses:

Hebrews 10:25 “…Not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”

Assembling together isn’t limited only to meeting together on Sunday but it isn’t excluded either. Further, God’s people are commanded to partake of The Lord’s Supper together. This command can’t be kept in isolation at home.

2 Peter 1:3-10 “Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. 5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, 6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, 7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble.”

Peter is writing to the church about these qualities and he means for the church to be putting them into to practice especially in a church environment. Peter is “exercising oversight” over his flock and holding the members he is responsible for accountable.

John 16:13 “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.”

The Holy Spirit plays a vital role in our ability to meet the expectations as Christians, but notice even He is subject to the Word of God.

2 Corinthians 9:7  “Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

The Old Testament principle of tithing has been replaced with the New Testament principle of giving cheerfully. Like the widow “who gave all she had” we are expected to give sacrificially and joyfully. That might mean giving 10% but it means so much more than just a number.

1 Cor. 14:12, 26 “So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church…26 What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.”

Exercising our spiritual gifts isn’t optional and we are meant to use them everywhere but especially when we assemble for the edification of the church body. Sadly, attenders often keep from becoming members just so they don’t have serve.

Hebrews 13:17 “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.”

Our leaders have a very important responsibility, a responsibility that has eternal consequences not only for you but for them. Becoming a member and striving to fulfill our vows and expectations is in everyone’s best interest as we seek to obey our Lord Jesus Christ.