Becoming a Member of The Bridge Community Church
Many people ask, “Why membership?” One might assume that, as long as you profess Christ, what is the need for any further identification with a local church? Isn’t it enough simply to call yourself a Christian and attend worship services somewhere regularly? What is the point of formal membership?
The difference between attendees and members can be summed up in one word: commitment. It's like the difference between couples who just "live together" and those who get married. While becoming a Christian means to commit yourself to Christ, becoming a church member means to commit yourself to other Christians. It is a commitment to a specific group of believers - to practice the "one-another’s” of the New Testament.
- Paul mentions two different types of commitment in 2 Corinthians 8:5: "And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will." These two are the basic Biblical commitments expected of believers. You commit yourself to Christ for salvation and then you commit yourself to other Christians for membership in a local church family.
- Formal membership defines who can be counted on. We live in an age where very few want to be committed to anything, whether a job, marriage, or country. This attitude has bred a generation of church hoppers and shoppers. Membership cuts across the grain of today’s consumer religion. Membership is an unselfish decision that builds character. It presents a challenge to “step out of the stands” and publicly affirm a commitment to Christ and to a specific local body.
- The church is different; it is a counter to culture. In the church, community, mutual accountability, support and encouragement run counter to our culture’s obsession with individualism. The phrase "one another" or "each other" is used more than 50 times in the New Testament. We are commanded to love each other, pray for each other, encourage each other, admonish each other, greet each other, serve each other, teach each other, accept each other, honor each other, bear each other's burdens, forgive each other, sing to each other, submit to each other and be devoted to each other. All of these commands are what membership in a local body of believers is all about. These are the responsibilities of membership.
- The Bridge Community Church is a congregational church and that means all members may serve in the offices of Elder, Deacon and fill ministry leadership positions.
The following points describe the membership process depending on the stage in life that you get to know us.
For Adult New Comers we offer a membership class that works through the three essential subject areas of church membership. The first part discusses who God is, the role of Jesus and the Holy Spirit in coming to faith. The second section explores the Christian life and the practices that enrich and enliven our spiritual walk. The final section is concerned with the particular practices and positions that the Bridge holds regarding governance, sacraments and core beliefs.
For Adult “Transfers’ Many people ask, “Why do I have to take a membership class, I've already professed my faith in a Christian church?” The opportunity we wish to provide is too important to bypass. In former times there was incredible similarity in style, focus and structure to Christian Reformed Churches; it is not so today. In our membership class every believer who wishes to ‘transfer in’ has the opportunity to explore the unique ministry that God has called us to while still functioning under the denominational umbrella.
For Youth of the congregation. For you this question may seem odd, after all we receive infants into membership through their baptism. And that’s true but not the whole story. The status of baptized youth and their membership connection to the church is described below.
This is the initial stage for those born into the church and who received the sign and seal of God (see further below under Sacraments/Baptism). These children youth or adults remain a part of the community and receive pastoral care for as long as they are willing. They are also eligible to serve in many roles in the church, including some leadership positions which are under direct supervision of a full member.
This is the next stage for those under the age of 18. When baptized youth desire to respond to the call of God on their life, they request and are enrolled in a Profession of Faith class, which leads to a public profession of their faith in a regular church service. Their spiritual membership in the church is affirmed in their profession of faith and they become personally responsible for living out their faith. These professing members are eligible for leadership roles where age appropriate and are expected to be active in the church community.
This is the final stage of membership made necessary because of our civil legal system. Only those 18 and over are eligible to be members of a registered society in British Columbia and therefore professing Youth are barred from participation in some church decisions (budget approval, hiring, etc.). When a professing youth reaches the age of 18, the Board should contact the individual and ask if they would like to take the final step in membership. There is no class requirement, simply an interview with the Elders, intended to answer any questions the young adult may have and to welcome them into the full responsibilities of membership. Once complete the individual will be received as an adult member through public announcement.
We value these stages of membership because they begin with our Lord’s activity in the lives of parents and then their children. As He calls we respond and then partner together to testify to the truth of Jesus Christ as we see the Kingdom of God expanding.
Regardless of the track, how do I become a member?
1. Investigation. The prospective member worships with this body and builds relationships, gradually becoming familiar with the church, its people, and its ministry.
2. Attendance. The prospective member attends this membership class and finds out more about what it means to be a Christian and how to live the Christian life. People in the class become very familiar with the vision of this local body.
3. Decision. The prospective member reviews the membership covenant of The Bridge Community Church and decides whether they want to become a member of this church family. If they do, they then inform the pastor or person teaching the membership class.
4. Confirmation. The prospective member meets with an elder to discuss the affirmations made and to further strengthen the relationship with the leadership structure of the church.
5. Celebration. New members are presented at a Sunday morning worship service. Those who have never professed their faith are given that opportunity by way of a personal testimony. There is also opportunity to be baptized.
The Bridge Community Church Membership Covenant
Having received Christ as my Lord and Savior and been baptized, and being in agreement with The Bridge’s vision, core values, and structure, I now feel led by the Holy Spirit to unite with the Bridge church family. In doing so, I commit myself to God and to the other members to do the following:
1. I WILL PROTECT THE UNITY OF MY CHURCH
...By acting in love toward other members
Eph 4:2-6 “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit-- just as you were called to one hope when you were called-- one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
...By refusing to gossip
Eph 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
...By following the leaders
Heb 13:17 “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you."
2. I WILL SHARE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF MY CHURCH
...By praying for its growth
Eph 4:15-16 “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”
...By inviting the unchurched to attend
Luke 14:23 (NIV) "Then the master told his servant, `Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full.
...By warmly welcoming those who visit
Roma 15:7 “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”
3. I WILL SERVE THE MINISTRY OF MY CHURCH
...By discovering my gifts and talents
1 Pet 4:10 “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.”
...By being equipped to serve by my pastors
Eph 4:11-13 “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
...By developing a servant's heart
Phil 2:3-5, 7 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: . . who took on the very nature of a servant”
4. I WILL SUPPORT THE TESTIMONY OF MY CHURCH
...By attending faithfully
Heb. 10:25 "Let us not give up the habit of meeting together...but let us encourage one another."
…By living a godly life
Phil 1:27 “ Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel.”
...By giving regularly
1Cor. 16:2 "Each one of you, on the first day of each week, should set aside a specific sum of money in proportion to what you have earned and use it for the offering."
Lev. 27:30 "A tenth of all your produce is the Lord's, and it is holy."