Acts 2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
In Acts 2:42-47, we see a picture of corporate spiritual vitality in the early church. Over and over again it is described how the church was together: together in the temple courts, together in one another’s homes, and together with glad and sincere hearts. From the start, there has been a strong emphasis of togetherness in our life with Christ.
The Bible speaks of being saved as being added to the number of the local church. There are no “Lone Ranger” Christians. God intends each of you in Christ to be vitally connected to a local gathering of believers.
Here are several reasons why membership is encouraged at Bethel Grace:
1. Devotion. Membership is a way to express commitment and devotion to a particular family of believers. In Acts 2:42 we read that in the early church they devoted themselves to the fellowship. We understand membership as a way for you to affirm before the Bethel Grace family, “I am here with you and I am here for you. I am committed to you. I believe in the values of this church. I wholeheartedly affirm the doctrine of this church. I want to worship, learn, grow, connect and serve the mission of Jesus with you.”
2. Congregational Government. Bethel Grace is an elder-led, congregationally-governed church. While the regular operation of church ministry is under the oversight of the elders, certain weighty matters of ministry (such as the selection of pastors/elders, the approval of the church budget, and addition of new members) are brought to the congregation for a vote as we seek to affirm God’s direction together. Bethel Grace must be assured that all who participate in church votes are committed to the church and its doctrine. In the process of membership, such affirmations are made. While congregational meetings are open for all to attend, only church members have a say-so in passing resolutions that shape the ministry and direction of the church.
3. Key Areas of Service. Along the same lines as the congregational vote, we desire that all who serve in key areas of influence (leadership, teaching roles, boards, commissions, etc.) be those who have expressed their commitment to this family of believers and have expressed agreement with our basic convictions about Christian doctrine and living. There are some areas of service where we are happy to have non-members participate. But for the most part, those who serve in ministry are those “on board” with Bethel Grace.
4. Spiritual Accountability. The consistent pattern throughout the New Testament is that God blesses each local church with a plurality of elders. They are to serve, lead, teach and pray for the church as shepherds and overseers. Deacons and deaconesses support them in providing mercy and care through the hardships of life. Leaders are also called to bring correction and discipline when Christians drift toward sin. Hebrews 13:17 states that leaders will someday give an account before the Lord for those they watch over. With a world of people in need, membership helps clarify to leaders just who it is they are accountable for. Thus, members of the church get priority in pastoral care.
Please check out bethelgrace.org to see when Bethel Grace 101, our membership class, starts up again. We’d love to have you join us!