3to be practiced? In order to exclude someone from a group there must be a clearlydefined group from which they may be excluded.3.
The mutual accountability of believers and elders (Heb. 13:17; 1 Thess. 5:12-13; 1 Tim.5:17).
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those whowill give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:12
But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently laboramong you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction,
and that you esteem themvery highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another.
1 Timothy 5:17
The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially thosewho work hard at preaching and teaching.
Who are these passages requiring to submit to whom? Who are the leaders and who arethe followers? These passages imply that there must be some kind of commitment thatexisted between those who were submitting and those who were leading so that theycould identify one another.
1 Tim. 5:17’s language of “those
who rule well” implies that those being ruled evaluate
those doing the ruling. This is practically impossible unless there is a clearly definedgroup who recognize who is ruling them.4.
The responsibility of elders to watch for “the flock” (Acts 20:28). Th
responsibility of elders is to care for “the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made youoverseers, to care for the church of God.” In order for an elder to know who “the flock”
is, there must be a clearly defined and limited set of people.All of the above data suggests that the New Testament church, although without technical,legal formalities, had a clearly established set of criteria by which one was defined as a
member of “the church” or “the flock.” The NT suggests that the criteria would
included public believer’s baptism identifying with Christ, public profession of faith in
Jesus as the Christ and Lord, and dedicated participation in the life of the local church (cf.Acts 2:42).
Church membership is available to those who:
have a clear testimony of saving faith in Christ alone for salvation
have participated in water baptism in confession of their faith in Christ.
have completed a 10-12 week membership class that introduces them to the basics of the Christian life and the substance of the privileges and responsibilities of local churchmembers.
fully commit to assume all the responsibilities and privileges of membership.
recognize that failure to fulfill their membership responsibilities will bring them under
the church’s restorative discipline to help them sustain their relationship with the Lord.
Local church membership should be a commitment to the following responsibilities andprivileges:Responsibilities
commitment to progressive discipleship designed to move all members into spiritualmaturity and active ministries for which they are gifted.
commitment to support the local ministry financially through tithing
commitment to regular accountability to the church leadership