Practicing Discernment: Membership Requirements for Ambassador Bible Church a local Evangelical Free Church in Chantilly, Virginia

From time to time I will throw up a post, a church page on membership that will be a quiz. I will refrain from commenting for two weeks and then I’ll write a post on it. I’m kicking it off with the requirements of a local Evangelical Free Church, Ambassador Bible Church in Chantilly, Virginia. Have at it…let’s practice some discernment!

“Finding good players is easy. Getting them to play as a team is another story.”

Casey Stengel

“I can’t afford to be a member of a golf course.”

Jack Abramoff

Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true

Acts 17:11 NIV

At this blog there are many issues in the Evangelical Free Church of America that I would like to write about and pursue. Those issues include parts of the Evangelical Free being theologically hijacked by Neo-Calvinists, questionable church discipline being used, and questionable uses of authority among other issues. However I would also like to teach people how to question and how to practice discernment. Questioning is good and important. How to look at a webpage and ask questions or how to look at what a church says about membership and critically think it through is essential. Now note I am not saying to be critical for the sake of being critical. I am talking about practicing discernment. After all as Christians we’re called to be Bereans. So from time to time I am going to throw up what a church says about membership and ask you goys to discern it. Process it, and discuss it. If you would like to read more about church related issues I have composed two posts one how to choose a church and issues with membership covenants. My grad school history paid off handsomely!

In this post I will start this with a local Evangelical Free Church called Ambassador Bible Church which is in nearby Chantilly, Virginia. Ambassador was started in 1997 and is currently led by John Park and has Ken Ahn, Ken Collins and Steve Min as Elders. I will give you guys two weeks to look this over and comment below. Then I will write a post and offer my feedback. I will also reach out to Ambassador Bible Church and give them the opportunity to comment and or explain themselves. I will refrain from commenting and let you guys take a stab at this. You can also read the PDF attachment in this web page here.

Let’s be Bereans!



What does it mean to be a “member” of a church? At Ambassador Bible Church, we understand membership to be an expression of a person’s commitment to Christ in a mutually accountable relationship with the local church. It is a means to become fully involved in all the church stands for and does.

Requirement for Membership

The main requirement for membership at Ambassador Bible Church is that you be a Christian. If you are a Christian and have not been baptized, we also ask that you do so at the next available opportunity.

Benefits of Membership

  • Identification

    Your membership identifies you with a local church body, where you affirm the vision and values together with others to accomplish God’s work in the local community and the world (1 Corinthians 12:27).

  • Responsibility

    Your membership expresses your faith in a tangible and responsible manner. As a member, you will faithfully support the church through prayer, service, and finances. It also entitles you to vote and participate in the decisions affecting the operations of our local church. You can be counted on to be an active participant rather than a passive spectator. (Ephesians 4:16)

  • Accountability

    Your membership expresses your commitment to Christ expressed in a mutually accountable relationship with the local church. The church is responsible to care for your growth in faith through pastoral oversight and church discipline, and you are responsible to serve and participate in the life of the church. (Galatians 6:2)

How to Become a Member

  • Complete the Membership Application and turn it in to a pastor.
  • Attend the next Membership Class.
  • Sign the Membership Covenant (see below) in good conscience.
  • Be interviewed by an elder and approved for membership by the elder board.
  • Participate in the Membership Ceremony where you will publicly affirm your membership commitment.

Membership Covenant

Ambassador Bible Church is a body where everyone plays a key and significant role. From a simple task of shaking a newcomer’s hand to the task of taking down the sound system each Sunday, everyone works together as one body to fulfill one vision.

We believe that every member has a God-given responsibility to the church. As a member you are investing your time, treasures and talents into developing the most healthy, biblical church we can be. We work and unite together to fulfill the mission God has given us. So by signing as a member, we hold each other accountable to fulfill this task.

Therefore, as a member…

I will submit to Christ as Lord and to the shepherds of Ambassador Bible Church (Hebrews 13:7).

I will uphold the church vision, purposes, values, doctrinal beliefs, and constitution.

I will attend the regularly scheduled worship services and church congregational meetings (Hebrews 10:25).

I will give and invest my resources to support the ministries and projects of the church for God’s glory (1 Corinthians 16:2; 2 Corinthians 9:7).

I will belong to a small group for spiritual growth and accountability (Acts 2:42).

I will serve the church by joining a ministry team (1 Corinthians 12:4).

I will support missions and evangelism through prayer, finances, and personal involvement (Matthew 28:19-20).

I will pray for the spiritual well-being of the church and its members (Philippians 1:9).

I will abide by this covenant, and in the case I do not fulfill my commitments, I may be removed from the privilege of membership.


11 thoughts on “Practicing Discernment: Membership Requirements for Ambassador Bible Church a local Evangelical Free Church in Chantilly, Virginia

  1. There is a statement on the leadership page, “The Elders include the Pastoral Team: Pr. John Park”. I take this to mean the staff, under the control of the pastor, are the elders. It is not an independent group of elders.

    There is a page dedicated to EFCA, Evangelical Free Church of America, not to be confused with ECFA, Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. Of the ECFA “Seven Standards or Responsible Stewardship” under Governance is the recommendation for an independent board. For any organization to have accountability it needs an independent board. The elder board at Ambassador is made up of people on the payroll who look to the senior pastor as their boss, it is not independent. This type of governance is a breeding ground for insular thinking at best and abuse at worst, it is very unsettling.


  2. Big red flags around submission to shepherds (without identifying who exactly a shepherd is) and accountability but the covenant is vague about what exactly those terms mean. You must give, you must belong to a small group, for accountability – no doubt the small group is led by a “Shepherd” . It just seems very controlling. You are giving up all your rights and becoming a sheep. It’s interesting to note that they ask in the application if you are under discipline from the church you previously attended. I would not attend this church.

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  3. Pingback: Thoughts Bouncing Around in my Head…. | Wondering Eagle

  4. Accountability
    “The church is responsible to care for your growth in faith through pastoral oversight and church discipline”
    This just makes me shudder. When someone refers to oversight and discipline at the top of a covenant it is indicative of nothing good. Oddly it is listed under “Benefits” to membership?

    I will submit …
    Anything that contains submit and then uses the Hebrews 13:7 hammer sets an alarm, in this case they start with it. There are several better intepretations of the passage. Do an internet search on “Heb 13:7” and “abuse”.

    I will uphold …
    Uphold their vision? What does that mean? Even they couldn’t find a verse for this one.

    I will attend …
    The Hebrews text they use says to not give up meeting together. The covenant refers to attending worship service, does sitting in a pew with little or no interaction with others fulfill meeting together? I know a lot of people who do small groups and classes but skip the show, will they come under discipline?

    I will serve …
    All too often serving means doing something for the institution. The gifts referenced in Cor 12:4 were meant for serving the body, each other, not an institution.

    I will give …
    Interesting that their first proof text is of a non recurring need and the money went outside their own community.

    I will abide …
    Whoa boy. What ever happened to let your yes be yes and you no be no. Signing a covenant is tantamount to signing a contract. Would you sign a contract that stipulates your responsibilities but does not specify the contingent responsibilities of the other party? Be sure to note this is not a covenant between believers of equal stature, this is with an organization.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t even know where to start! Suffice it to say, joining the army would be a safer bet. At least you’ll get food, housing, and medical care.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Seems like a bit too much to do to be a church member for me. Small groups aren’t even in the Bible, as far as I know, they’r based off the 17th century “conventicles” that have their roots in the Pietist movement in Germany. I mean, I think all Christians are obligated to belong to a “true church” where “word and Sacrament” is practiced, but small groups are just a way of forming community in a city or suburb. I can’t help but think of the family that is too busy to do all this. Plus, not all Christians are called to serve within the local church. Really they’re just supposed to work their jobs.

    But what do I know? I’m one of the Old School Presbyterians, embarrassed by what passes as Calvinism these days. Predestination =/= Reformed.

    Eagle, for what it’s worth, these are the membership vows for the PCA:

    “1) Do you acknowledge yourself to be a sinner in the sight of God, justly deserving His displeasure, and without hope save in His sovereign mercy?

    2) Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and Savior of sinners, and do you receive and rest upon Him alone for salvation as He is offered in the Gospel?

    3) Do you now resolve and promise, in humble reliance upon the grace of the Holy Spirit, that you will endeavor to live as becomes the followers of Christ?

    4) Do you promise to support the Church in its worship and work to the best of your ability?

    5) Do you submit yourself to the government and discipline of the Church, and promise to study its purity and peace?”

    Three of those vows are a commitment to believe in the Gospel, the fourth is a vague commitment to support the Church the best that you can.

    The fifth vow you would probably find problematic. In the Reformed (read: not Neo-Calvinistic Evangelicalism), the government of the church is the Session/Consistory and discipline means listening to the sermon every Sunday, unless you mess up big. Likewise, the member is to pursue purity AND peace. So I think there’s space to raise a ruckus if the church is not pure.

    Anyway, I posted the vows to see what you think and to maybe provide a helpful contrast from the confessional Presbyterian world. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks and welcome for your comments. I am not opposed to discipline and in the right circumstances think its necessary. However I think it should be the last resort and after all other avenues have failed. I also want to highlight that church discipline is useless if it only applies to the pew peons while their leaders are exempt. For example when is Mark Driscoll or CJ Mahaney going to be disciplined? When is Mark Dever going to be disciplined for violating 9 Marks? Whenever I hear Jonathan Leeman talk about church discipline I will always ask…when will Mark Dever face church discipline for violating 9 Marks? And helping CJ avoid church discipline?


      • Sorry I haven’t replied. Didn’t notice you did >_<

        I agree with you, that excommunication should be the last option. Though in the case of sex abuse (or anything terrible like that), excommunication should be immediate. Think St. Paul telling people to kick a man out of Corinth for being ridiculous.

        And yah, I agree. Church discipline SHOULD be aimed at the leaders as well. In fact, that's what frustrated me about the Tullian situation. The Presbytery (of which I was a part of by virtue of being in the PCA for a while) didn't speak to his life. They just let him keep going, because, you know, the Gospel.

        Now, when are the guys mentioned going to be disciplined? Well, I hope in two things, and forgive me if it sounds sappy:

        1) General Providence. Solomon had his wives, he also managed to fracture Israel. Here's hoping something similar happens.

        2) Hell. If these men are not Christians, the doctrine of Hell gives me a strange comfort. God's justice will prevail, even if human justice does not.

        Eagle for what it's worth, while not perfect, I am continually impressed by the courts of Reformed churches. At the very least, there have been failures (see the Federal Vision controversy in the PCA) and successes (see the overture against Kevin Swanson for advocating Family Integrated Churchmanship as an article of faith, and that woman who was vindicated by the OPC's general assembly).

        Of course I don't expect you to agree with me. But at least within a denomination, you can sue. But parachurch organizations, by their nature, are outside of discipline. And so when you have an organization that leads by charisma advocating hammer and sickle, but they themselves are under no hammer, well, I'm not surprised this happens.

        In all these things we need to pray that God's kingdom come quickly so that very tear is wiped away. In the mean time, we should be pesky against these men who violate God's word. And as somebody that wants to be a minister and a victim of church abuse (Baptist megachurch), I never want to advocate a system like that.

        But to me, church discipline should be about protecting the weak. When I see it misused, I flip tables.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. But to me, church discipline should be about protecting the weak. When I see it misused, I flip tables.

    Agreed! That’s the problem with church discipline today is that it is being misused. It’s being used to expand and protect empire and protect money. That’s one of the many reasons with why it is dysfunctional. When the corrupt have power…run.


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