Some people may come from a background where the fellowship does not practice a covenant membership. We understand that there are differing views on this, but Street Baptist has church membership because the principles that underlie it are found in scripture. We expect that all who join with us regularly will consider these principles carefully in the light of scripture and will commit to join us as church members.
The ‘universal’ Church
We understand from God’s word that those who are led to know Jesus as their saviour are not only ‘justified’, but are also brought into a living growing relationship with Jesus. This is pictured in many ways – for example, as though we are stones selected to be built into a living temple, we are one “new man”, we are “fellow-citizens” of His Kingdom (Eph 2:11-22). There is a clear obligation to be a part of His body (1 Cor 12:12-26), and we are told we should be those who encourage and build one another up (Rom 12:3-8, Col 3:15-16).
The local Church
But, in addition to being part of God’s ‘universal church’, we are also to be part of a local fellowship. In Acts 2:47 we learn that the new believers were “added to their number daily”. In Phil 1:27 Paul encouraged the believers in the church in Philippi to “contend as one man for the faith of the gospel”. In Heb 10:25 we are told that we must not “give up the habit of meeting together”. God means us to be in community with local believers in a local fellowship.
So what if there are a number of fellowships in the area? Why should I be a member of one? There is a clear commitment to the local fellowship in Heb 10:24-25 – the habitual meeting together is so that we can “spur one another on” and “encourage one another”. There is a commitment to one another.
But, in addition, we see that the church were given Elders to have authority over the local church as servants of God and shepherds of God’s people (1 Tim 3:8-13, 1 Pet 5:1-3). The people were expected to put themselves under the authority of the church leaders (Heb 13:17).
Church membership is a means of publicly binding yourself to God’s people in one place and putting yourself under the authority of the leaders in that fellowship. It is a public step demonstrating obedience to God’s word and commitment to the fellowship.
There is a wealth of material you could read on this, but we particularly recommend this short book by 9Marks.