Learning to think about church membership as a covenant
We have come to believe wholeheartedly that the Bible teaches believers to not just attend a local church but to commit themselves to be part of a local congregation in a way that the Scriptures sometimes compare to being a member of a body, and other times to being a member of a family. That sort of connection involves a voluntary decision to join into, hold to and persevere with, and devote one's self to the good of the other members. In short, it involves a covenant, not unlike the marriage covenant. When someone asks to become a member of Beacon Church, and then is recommended for membership by the Elders' Team to the congregation, they then affirm a covenant in front of the church to formalize their membership in Beacon Church.
Pastor and author, Matt Chandler, in an article on the question of whether "church membership" is biblical, cited a number of New Testament texts showing that it is hard to imagine how a Christian can obey the many commands we find in the New Testament (e.g., "obey your leaders and submit to them" in Heb 13:17) unless some kind of formal membership is recognized. He says, "When you begin to look at these texts it becomes clear that God’s plan for his church is that we would belong to a local covenant community of faith. This is for our own protection and maturation, and for the good of others."1
In spite of the fact that this teaching is well established in the New Testament, many Christians today are unfamiliar with it and even find the idea of church membership, much less a covenant between church members, strange and alien. The elders of Beacon Church understand this and are committed to providing ongoing teaching and equipping to help our church, its members and adherents, to grow in appreciation and love for a biblical understanding of obedience to God in this area of local church membership. Therefore, in addition to offering membership classes and other kinds of training from time to time, we wish to recommend this book, Church Membership: How the World Knows Who Represents Jesus, by Jonathan Leeman. (You can get a copy from the Christian Book and Music Store in Victoria or order one from Amazon.)
Download the Members' Covenant
We encourage members and adherents interested in membership to read and study our Beacon Church Members' Covenant. You can download a copy of the current version here.