The Bible uses several metaphors to describe the relationship between believers and their local church body: members of the family of God, citizens of the kingdom of heaven, living stones within the temple of God, and members of the body of Christ, to name a few. All of these biblical images highlight the fact that Christians are to relate to one another in a way that is highly committed and deeply interdependent. One of the ways we express this type of relationship in our culture is through membership. Membership is a way of saying, “I am declaring myself to be formally committed to this local church community.”
Membership isn’t something for “extra-committed” Christians – it’s the natural next step for anyone who considers Renewal to be his or her spiritual home. As such, if Renewal is “your church,” we highly encourage you to formalize that commitment through membership. If you’re trying to figure out if Renewal is for you, the membership process is a great way to explore and find out more about what Renewal stands for.
RENEWAL’S 5-STEP MEMBERSHIP PROCESS
#1: RECEIVE JESUS
The first step toward becoming a member is to be a Christian – to have received Jesus Christ as both Savior and Lord. If you are still exploring the Christian faith, we're so glad that you're here, but let's wait on membership. In addition, prospective members must have previously declared their faith in Christ through baptism. If you are a Christian but have not yet been baptized, you are welcome to continue with the membership process, however, you must be baptized before you can formally become a member. Contact us if you’re interested in getting baptized!
#2: KNOW & BE KNOWN
Church membership is only meaningful if we know you and you know us. At Renewal, this means worshiping with us regularly at our Sunday worship services and becoming a committed member of one of our Community Groups. If you aren't part of a Community Group yet, we invite you to first get to know us by visiting one before moving on with the membership process.
#3: MEMBERSHIP COVENANT
The Membership Covenant lays out the foundation of what we believe as a church, how we walk with God, and how we treat one another. It gives prospective members the opportunity to understand what it means to be a member at Renewal and should be read prior to attending a Membership Class (see #4).
#4: MEMBERSHIP CLASS
A significant aspect of our membership process is attending a Membership Class, where the responsibilities of membership will be reviewed in greater detail. Find out when the next membership class is.
After attending the class, we invite those who desire to continue on in the membership process to fill out an online application and be scheduled for a membership interview (see #5).
#5: MEET WITH AN ELDER
The final step will be to meet with an elder to go over your application and to discuss any questions you may have. At the conclusion of the meeting you would sign the Membership Covenant and your candidacy will be reviewed at the next regularly scheduled Members meeting. Upon acceptance, you will be formally admitted to membership during a Sunday service in the near future.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: “Is church membership biblical?”
If you search the New Testament for evidence of a formal church membership process, you won’t find it. The reason for this is simple – they didn’t need it. Pretty much anyone who showed up was considered a “committed member” for several reasons: (1) Persecution – The New Testament makes it clear that many of the churches operated in hostile environments. This reality acted as a natural filter that weeded out the uncommitted; (2) Scarcity – There simply weren’t as many churches around back then as there are in modern-day America. Today, with dozens of churches in most cities, it’s easy to church “hop and shop” for months, if not years, leading to uncertainty and confusion regarding who is and who isn’t committed to a local church; and (3) Mobility – We live in the most transient society in the history of the world. People pick up and move for myriad reasons at the drop of a hat. In biblical times, people moved around far less, sometimes spending a lifetime in one town or village, thereby making it much easier to know who was – or at least should have been – at church. For all of these reasons church membership is a practical response to the very real challenges of our time and culture. It allows the church community to know who’s “in” so that we can focus our time and energy on living as a biblical community, rather than wasting it on trying to figure out who’s in the community in the first place.
Q: “What do I do if I need to move?”
Just let us know and, though we’ll be sad to see you go, we’ll gladly bless you. We hope however, that you will not have made such a decision lightly, but rather, with much prayer, thought, and godly counsel from your church community. In a day and age where the local church is treated more like a local Starbucks than a family – “Don’t worry, there’ll be one where I’m moving” – we’re asking members to be countercultural by taking Jesus’ description of the church as a family seriously. If you do end up moving, our hope is that you will become a member of another Jesus-loving, gospel-centered, Bible-teaching church in your new city!
Q: “How long will I be considered a member?”
We will ask all members to renew their covenant commitment annually.
Q: “What are the ‘benefits’ of becoming a member?”
The benefits of membership are those that come when everyone knows where you stand. As a self-declared member of the flock, other members have a responsibility to care for you, encourage you, and do all that they can to help you become who God has called you to be, as well as vice versa. In addition, there are certain privileges granted specifically to members, such as priority in counseling and visitation, leadership opportunities, wedding officiation by church pastors or elders, certain service positions and access to our limited benevolence funds.
Q: “Is membership required for serving and leadership within the church?”
We will eventually require membership for all leadership positions and many service positions. Some service positions may not require membership; however, details are still being sorted out at this time.
Q: “What if I choose not to become a member?”
Of course you are still welcome at Renewal! We will not, and cannot, force anyone to become a member. All we can do is present our reasons for membership and exhort every follower of Jesus to gladly embrace becoming a covenanted member of Renewal Church.
Q: “What is expected from members?”
The exact conditions and expectations are spelled out in the Membership Covenant.
Q: “Is church membership for ‘super Christians’?”
No way! Church membership is for all people who profess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, whether you just recently became a Christian or if you’ve been walking with Jesus your entire life.
Q: “Can I become a member at any time?”
Not at this time. We will have set times during the year (e.g. twice a year) when we will hold a Membership Class and give people the opportunity to become members.
Q: “If I want to become a member, but my spouse doesn’t, what do I do?”
We will handle these situations on a case-by-case basis but ideally, we encourage that both husband and wife join together.
Q: “What if I left a church under discipline but want to become a member with Renewal?”
We will handle these situations on a case-by-case basis. While we desire that anyone who wants to become a member of Renewal will be able to, we also want to take into account the decisions of other churches. Talk to an elder about your specific circumstances.
Q: “If I’m still exploring the person and work of Jesus can I become a member?”
We’re excited you’re here at Renewal! However, church membership is specifically for those who have received Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. So, for now let’s wait. Take your time to ask questions, get connected in community and continue to explore the amazing claims of Jesus Christ. If and when you decide to follow Him, we can revisit membership.