Membership at Coast
What is Church Membership?
Church membership is a conscious commitment to a local body of believers in Jesus for service and submission by trusting God for good through an imperfect church over time.
What is the Purpose of a Formal Church Membership Process at Coast?
The purpose of the membership process at Coast is not to “create” membership in the body of Christ but rather, to “recognize” membership in the body of Christ and to encourage us all to fulfill the practical vision for biblical church membership in all of our lives.
So the purpose or spirit of this whole process is to encourage those at Coast who are Christians to pursue obedience to what the Scripture says are our mutual obligations as believers in the same church. We encourage this obedience through our membership process.
What does the Membership Process at Coast Involve?
We have tried to keep it simple and to the point and yet adequate.
The membership process simply involves:
1. A review of Coast's Core Documents
We would like you to read and be familiar with our Core Beliefs, Core Values, and Core Commitments. These can be found on our website under 'ABOUT' and can be requested in print form.
2. A Meeting with the Elders
This meeting is an opportunity for us to get to know each other better through questions and answers and sharing life experiences.
So we want to give you an opportunity to ask the elders questions about the core documents.
We want to give you an opportunity to share your understanding of the gospel.
We also want to give you an opportunity to share your testimony of God's gracious work in your life and the elders will do the same.
3. A Formal Presentation to the Body of Coast
This presentation is brief and takes place during a normal Sunday morning worship service.
The formal presentation to the body is a way to publicly affirm one’s commitment to Coast and to ask for the body’s commitment to them as well.
This commitment is spelled out according to what we see called for in Scripture. Those who are formally presented to the body are making a statement of this kind:
We are in fundamental agreement with the Coast’s statement of faith (Core Beliefs).
We are in fundamental agreement with the Coast's mission statement (Core Values).
We are willing to abide by and be held accountable to Coast's bylaws (Core Commitments).
We are willing to place ourselves under the spiritual oversight of the elders.
We are committed to exercising our gifts in this body of believers for the building up of the church.
We desire the ministry of others in the body for our own encouragement and growth.
This formal presentation will include an introduction to the body by the elders, an affirmation of your desire to make the commitment described above, and a prayer for you and our fellowship and ministry together. It may also include your brief testimony of how you came to trust in Christ and how you came to Coast. But the public testimony is optional and not required.
For those who are baptized at Coast, the baptism is the formal presentation to the body. But to accomplish the spirit or purpose of the membership process, we still require those baptized to read the core documents and talk with the elders about them as needed.
If the person baptized is a child, the parents will need to take responsibility for helping the child to read and to come to a basic understanding of the information in the materials required. Also, if the parent did not do so before the baptism, the parent (with the help of the elders) should discuss with the child the commitment to the body of Christ at Coast as outlined for the formal presentation of membership and as mandated in Scripture.
If someone does not become a formal member of Coast, but is a regular attender, their regular attendance is an agreement to be held accountable to Coast's core documents (Core Beliefs, Core Values, and Core Commitments), just as if they were to go through the formal membership process.
Believers are called to walk in obedience to the clear teaching of God’s word and in wisdom where God has left us free. Although a formal membership process is not clearly commanded in the Scriptures, some kind of conscious and public commitment to a local church is necessarily implied by all that the New Testament says about loving one another (John 13:34) and being devoted to one another (Romans 12:10) and being a functioning 'member' of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). Therefore, we believe this formal membership process is wise and reasonable in light of Scripture and in light of the following concerns:
The need to try to maintain doctrinal purity to a degree in the body and, especially, among leaders in the body.
The need to try to prevent unnecessary disputes and misunderstandings over procedure and practice.
The contemporary trend toward a membership that does not recognize the place of church discipline and accountability.
The contemporary trend toward “inactive” church attendees and member “spectators.”
The contemporary trend toward an undervaluing of the role of other believers in our lives.
Some may ask whether these concerns could be addressed in other ways. The answer is certainly “yes.” But we also believe this is a reasonable and conservative approach that is one way to address these concerns, although, not the only way that is needed. For those who struggle with the idea of any type of formal church membership process, please consider this question: “Is there anything you think you might communicate by going through this process that would violate Scripture or your conscience?” We hope you will understand why we require this and that it will not be a hindrance to you.
If you would like more on what we believe the Bible teaches about church membership and/or have questions about whether church membership is a Biblical concept and something our Lord Jesus calls His disciples to, please go to our Shepherd's Feed Blog and look for posts on church membership.
You can also go to our sermons page to find Pastor's Classes and Sermons from January and February 2017 on the topic of church membership. Search on the sermons page under these titles:
Life in the Body (Pastor's Class Series)
Devotion to One Another (Sermon Series)
If you have an interest in becoming a formal member of Coast, please let us know.