This is a discernment exercise for people to look at and weigh in on. Today you have the opportunity to look at how Grace Church in Allen, Texas views membership. Grace Church is a part of the Evangelical Free Church of America and it is led by Joel Walters. Analyze this statement and let me know what your thoughts are on this church.
“Intelligence is something we are born with. Thinking is a skill that must be learned.”
Edward De Bono
“To live is to think.”
That very night the believers sent Paul and Silas to Berea. When they arrived there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11 And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. 12 As a result, many Jews believed, as did many of the prominent Greek women and men.
Here is another opportunity for you to practice discernment and weigh how Grace Church in Allen, Texas views membership. Grace Church is an Evangelical Free Church in the Texas and Oklahoma District which is led by Bob Rowley. Grace Church is led by Joel Walters who is the Senior Pastor. Additional pastors on staff at Grace include Blair Abbott, Wes Tarbox, and Bill Yuhasz. I am showing my colors when you read this but I really have to state that as I work through the Evangelical Free Church of America it is long past time that this denomination return to it Lutheran roots. I am going to let you read how they view membership and ask for you to comment and weigh in below. The more people who comment the merrier because these posts eventually tag the church website and people can learn from them when they are looking for a place to attend. The goal of this blog is to create people who think on their feet, ask hard questions and investigate a place so that toxic and questionable organizations can be avoided as well.
Membership at Grace EFC
We are pleased that you have expressed an interest in becoming a member of Grace Evangelical Free Church. We are excited about what God is doing in the family of Grace and through the family of Grace, and we would love for you to become part of it.
We understand that people have different understandings about membership and what the Bible actually has to say about becoming a member of the local body. While you won’t find the verse “become a member” in the Bible, we believe that there is an association with the local body that implies a deeper level of commitment that we think is best carried out through the process of membership.
1) It has a Biblical foundation. Jesus established the local church and all the apostles did their ministry through it. The Christian life in the New Testament is church life. Christians today should expect and desire the same.
2) The church is its members. To be “a church” in the New Testament is to be one of its members (read through Acts). And you want to be part of the church because that’s who Jesus came to rescue and reconcile to himself.
3) It’s how to officially represent Jesus. Membership is the church’s affirmation that you are a citizen of Christ’s kingdom and therefore a representative of Jesus before the nations.
4) It’s how to declare one’s highest allegiance. Your membership on the team, which becomes visible when you wear the “jersey,” is a public testimony that your highest allegiance belongs to Jesus. Trials and persecution may come, but your only words are, “I am with Jesus.” “I am part of the team.”
5) It’s how to embody and experience biblical images. It’s within the accountability structures of the local church that Christians live out or embody what it means to be the “body of Christ,” the “temple of the Spirit,” the “family of God,” and so on for all the biblical metaphors (see 1 Cor. 12). And you want to experience the interconnectivity of his body, the spiritual fullness of his temple, and the safety and intimacy and shared identity of his family.
6) It’s how to serve other Christians. Membership helps you to know which Christians on Earth you are specifically responsible to love, serve, warn, and encourage. It enables you to fulfill your biblical responsibilities to Christ’s body (for example, see Eph. 4:11-16; 25-32).
7) It’s how to follow Christian leaders. Membership helps you to know which Christian leaders you are called to obey and follow. Again, it allows you to fulfill your biblical responsibility to them (see Heb. 13:7; 17).
8) It helps Christian leaders lead. Membership lets Christian leaders know which Christians they will “give an account” for (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2).
9) It enables church discipline. It gives you the biblically prescribed place to participate in the work of church discipline responsibly, wisely, and lovingly (1 Cor. 5).
10) It gives structure to the Christian life. It places an individual Christian’s claim to “obey” and “follow” Jesus into a real-life setting where authority is actually exercised over us (see John 14:15; 1 John 2:19; 4:20-21).
11) It builds a witness and invites the nations. Membership puts the alternative rule of Christ on display for the watching universe (see Matt. 5:13; John 13:34-35; Eph. 3:10; 1 Peter 2:9-12). The very boundaries which are drawn around the membership of a church yield a society of people which invites the nations to something better.
Resource: Jonathan Leeman is the author of The Church and the Surprising Offense of God’s Love: Reintroducing Church Membership and Discipline (Crossway, 2010) and is the editorial director for 9Marks.
How to become a member?
We welcome all those who are interested in becoming a member of Grace Church to complete a Membership application. The application asks you some basic questions about your relationship with Jesus Christ and your desire for a relationship with the local body of believers, that being Grace Church. It’s not a test! It’s simply our attempt to get to know you a little better and begin to understand where you are in your spiritual journey so that we might help you grow in your relationship with Christ and with his body.
We will also ask you if you agree with the Biblical beliefs of Grace Church. Don’t worry. You may or may not understand all of the points of doctrine, but we are interested in if you understand those things that we believe are fundamentally important to understand about the Bible and the work of Christ. It’s ok if you don’t necessarily agree with a certain point of the doctrinal statement. Just explain how your belief differs and we can have a good discussion about how that impacts our unity in the body.
What you believe is important, but how we live and function together is also important. We are also asking you to sign a membership covenant which expresses your intent to practice the Biblical principles that we believe.
When you desire to become a member of Grace, you will go through the following process.
- Attend the 2 week Membership Class. Check the Connection Point for the next scheduled class.
- Fill out the membership application.
- An Elder will contact you to set up a time and place for an interview.
- Examination of applicants for membership shall be conducted by the Elders as to:
- Your salvation relationship with God through Christ.
- Your agreement with the Statement of Faith.
- Your willingness to abide by our Constitution and out Statement of Faith.
- Your willingness to join in the covenant of membership of the church.
- You will become a member of Grace Church by acceptance of the application by the Elders.
- (The removal of a member of Grace Church requires a motion from the Elder Board.)