Becoming a Member of the Living Hope Family
Becoming a member of a local church is a wonderful thing! Below is some information to help you understand what becoming a member means and how it's done at Living Hope.
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Understanding Church membership
Is Church Membership Biblical?
Given one’s church and cultural backgrounds, one already has an idea of church membership. Thus, to make sure we have a Biblical understanding of church membership, we need to highlight the main related teachings of Scripture.
Who is Jesus? We must first begin with Jesus in order to understand church membership. Jesus is the head of the church (Col. 1:18). Jesus is the one who has all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18). He is not only the Savior, He is also the supreme King (Col. 1:15-20; Heb. 1:1-4). To become a Christian is to begin living a new way of life under King Jesus (John 8:31). Individuals who are His disciples live under His authority (John 14:6; James 4:7), which is another way to say they live in the kingdom of God/heaven (Matt. 6:33).
What is the church? The church in the broadest sense is the global community of all believers who live under and wield Christ’s authority. This is also called the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12-27). The local church is a local community of individuals living under and wielding Christ’s authority on that portion of the earth.
Therefore, the local church is not a social club or voluntary organization where membership is optional. The local church is more like an embassy of Christ’s kingdom (2Cor. 5:17-20). An embassy represents the home kingdom in a foreign land. An embassy does not grant citizenship. However, it recognizes citizens of the home kingdom in that foreign land and offers protection for those citizens.
What is the church’s role regarding membership? As an embassy, a local church’s role is to identify and affirm a believer’s membership of the global church and identify forgeries. A church member is someone who has been formally recognized and affirmed as a citizen of God’s kingdom, and as such, is under Christ’s authority.
There is a structure of authority in God’s kingdom. Individuals are called to submit to those who have been placed in authority over us in our families (e.g. parents), government (Romans 13:1-7) and the church as part of their submission to God. Individual believers have certain authority delegated to them (John 1:12) to be Christ’s ambassadors here on earth. There is also certain authority delegated to the church in the roles and responsibilities of appointed leaders (Matt 25:14-30; Eph. 4:11-12; 1Tim. 3:1-13).
Why a process for membership? A process for membership is meant to formally recognize and affirm one’s Christian’s citizenship by the leadership of that church. It is a public marker of one’s belonging to Christ and His church. It does not make one a Christian.
This is an important identification, one that should not be taken lightly. Jesus warns of false prophets who look like harmless sheep but are actually wolves (Matt. 7:15-20). The leaders of churches are to have a protective role in watching over their local church (Titus 1:7-9; 1Peter 5:1-4). Such warnings and responsibilities call to have some kind of process. The process, while not foolproof, gives some level of assurance in the recognition and affirmation of one’s membership in Christ.
What examples are there in Scripture for membership? Keeping record of God’s people is nothing new. God kept track of the nation of Israel (Numbers), Jesus’ ministry kept track of crowd size (Matt. 14:21; 15:38) and the early church kept a record of converts (Acts 2:41, 4:4). The example we see in Acts is that individual believers were baptized in Christ, a public identification marker, and then they oriented their lives within that local church community, helping to meet the needs of others (Acts 2:41-47). The example of Scripture shows a pattern of record keeping and believers being a part of a local church community. One is hard pressed to find an isolated believer in the pages of Scripture not attached to a local church.
What is church membership? The Biblical framework for becoming a member of a local church means that (1) you have identified yourself as a follower of Jesus, (2) that identification has been recognized and affirmed by those whom God has appointed in authoritative positions to watch over a local church through a process, (3) you are publicly identifying with that local church as the primary location of one’s effort and resources in being a member of the body of Christ involved in the Great Commission, and (4) you are willingly submitting to the structure of authority in Christ’s kingdom delegated to that local church.
Any member is free at any time to transfer their membership to another local church. The church leadership is also free to revoke one’s membership if there are biblical grounds for doing so. Either situation is to be characterized by love and peace seeking unity knowing that both parties are representatives of Christ.
 The following is a summary from Church Membership: How the World Knows Who Represents Jesus, by Jonathan Leeman.
Living Hope's Membership Process
Church membership is a practice that we find in Scripture and so we seek to be a church that practices according to a Biblical framework. (See Is Church Membership Biblical?)
Becoming a member means that you have decided to make Living Hope your church home. By becoming a member, you are saying, “This is my church, I fully embrace the distinctives of the C&MA and I am joining the Living Hope family to help accomplish our God-given task of making disciples for Medina and beyond.”
Becoming a member is something that should not be done hastily but with prayer and seeking the Lord. The church leaders are always available to meet with you to answer any questions. If you are in the process or are confident that God is leading you to make Living Hope your church home, then here are next steps:
Fill out and turn in the C&MA Church Membership Application form (found at the Welcome Center).
Watch the videos that cover the C&MA distinctives. They may be found at cmalliance.org/resources. Click on “C&MA DNA.”
Meet with one of the pastors to become familiar with Living Hope’s direction. Summarized in Living Hope’s Vision Frame.
Be interviewed by at least two elders, usually on a Sunday morning before or after the service.
Sign Membership Covenant (different from Application)
It is not necessary for steps 1-3 to be followed in order. If you have further questions, please contact church office (email@example.com or 330-725-7730). Upon elders’ approval and your covenant signing, you will be introduced to the rest of the church family.