Is Formal Church Membership Biblical?

LittleDrummerBoy

Senior Member
The churches I've attended in my life are split about 50-50 on whether they practiced formal church membership. Half simply had informal membership whereby if one had a believable testimony of being a Christian and attended regularly, one was considered a member. Not only was formal membership not required for any service or leadership positions in the church, formal membership was not defined or available. The other half of churches I've attended have had some kind of formal membership process where joining included a testimony of salvation and baptism, and usually agreement with a statement of faith and often a membership covenant.

I can see how formal membership can be useful if the church has a congregational form of government or other democratic processes for decision making, selecting leaders, approving budgets, etc. I've also seen churches use formal membership as a way to encourage greater accountability, giving, and service. The biggest downsides I've seen are churches with formal membership often fail to see that a member's service to the kingdom of God may be outside of that specific local church, and that churches with formal membership are more likely to attempt accountability for legalisms and denominational peculiarities present in their covenants and statements of faith. They may claim the Bible as their sole source of faith and practice, but then they use membership as an accountability tool for stuff that is not in the Bible.
 

1gr8bldr

Senior Member
We have no biblical model that could apply in this generation. The churches of biblical days were home churches. We don't even have a biblical tithe model. Even their givings were not for within, but rather to go to the poor. I am not implying that what we see in churches today is wrong, only that it did not come from the bible. They had no power bill, payroll, cleaning, maintenance, etc, to cover. I suspect it was more social, less man on the podium.
 

Madman

Senior Member
My view does not matter, baptism has always been entry into the church.
Tertullian said if a man claimed to be a christian and refused to be baptized then he is of questionable faith.
 

bobocat

Senior Member
Act 2 41,42

41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
 

NE GA Pappy

Mr. Pappy

bobocat

Senior Member
While I believe that baptism is a great step in your walk with God, I do not believe it to be necessary for salvation. I am not sure I know what you mean by ' entry into the church'

Apparently belief, confession and repentance is all that God requires for salvation. Would you agree?
I believe God's word agrees with that.(y)
 

Big7

Senior Member
Dang.. I ALMOST bit. :bounce:
 

NE GA Pappy

Mr. Pappy
There is a baptism of the Holy Ghost and then there is the symbol of that, which is the emersion in the water. If we have the former, we're told to do the latter.

I have always believed that baptism was the symbol of Christ dying, burial and resurrection from the dead.

How do you see a believer being baptisted in the Holy Ghost? How does one know? And how would a good dunking emulate that baptism? What scripture can you give me that backs up this belief?
 

welderguy

Senior Member
I have always believed that baptism was the symbol of Christ dying, burial and resurrection from the dead.

How do you see a believer being baptisted in the Holy Ghost? How does one know? And how would a good dunking emulate that baptism? What scripture can you give me that backs up this belief?

Baptism of the Spirit is the transformation from death unto life. A spiritual resurrection. That is what, as you said, water baptism symbolizes. We are risen with Christ.
 

NE GA Pappy

Mr. Pappy
Baptism of the Spirit is the transformation from death unto life. A spiritual resurrection. That is what, as you said, water baptism symbolizes. We are risen with Christ.

I thought salvation was the transformation of death to life.

do you see baptism of the Holy Ghost as a separate event in the life of a follower, or is it instilled in every follower when they are saved?

I sure would like to see scripture to back that line of thought. I haven't heard anyone say that baptism of the Holy Ghost was the transformation to life.
 

StriperAddict

Senior Member
I thought salvation was the transformation of death to life.

do you see baptism of the Holy Ghost as a separate event in the life of a follower, or is it instilled in every follower when they are saved?

I sure would like to see scripture to back that line of thought. I haven't heard anyone say that baptism of the Holy Ghost was the transformation to life.

When we were born again we were born/baptized into Christ and into His Spirit, so to say that such a (non-water) baptism is transformational is an accurate account of what Jesus did for us AND to us.

1 Corinthians 12:13
For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

Rom 6:3 states ... Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?

That's spiritual baptism, or non water immersion into Christ. (Water baptism is the celebration of that!)
 

Madman

Senior Member
Perhaps one should read the Church Fathers on this topic. Much could be learned.
 
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