The single most important qualification is to receive salvation, to belong to Jesus Christ. To do this, we need to hear the Good News of Jesus’ death and resurrection for us. If we believe the Good News of Jesus Christ, repent of sin, and are baptized in water as believers, this is our entry into Him and everything He does for us: into the forgiveness of all sins, and into receiving the Holy Spirit. Everyone who is baptized into Christ here is considered a member here.
If you have already been baptized in another congregation of the Churches of Christ, let our elders know who you are, and tell them that you’d like to be known as a member here. They’ll meet with you to get acquainted with you, and to help you become acquainted with us. Once we’re familiar with each other and are in agreement, the elders will make a public announcement, and you will be welcomed as a member.
If you’re coming to us from somewhere else, we recommend that you take some time to get to know us – and consider your willingness to participate in the life of this church and to follow its leadership – before deciding that you want to formally identify with us.
Everyone is welcome to attend our assemblies and activities, whether or not you’ve made a formal commitment to being a member here. Becoming a recognized member here strengthens our sense of being connected with each other, and tells us that we can rely on each other for support and encouragement. It opens the door to greater involvement and various kinds of leadership. “Membership” isn’t “mandatory,” but we recommend it!
“I come from another religious background. Is my previous baptism valid for becoming a member here?”
Possibly. See the article “Q&A: Baptism” for more detailed answers to questions you might have. If your previous faith and baptism agree in principle with Biblical teaching, then we gladly welcome you as a member of the church here in the same way that we welcome people from other Churches of Christ – see above for details.
If you are unbaptized, we encourage you to study the matter and consider being baptized. We’ll be happy to help you with anything you need for this.
It’s important that we all be certain that we share in salvation, and growing together is much more effective when we also share a common understanding of how to become a Christian. If you’re from another background with a different practice from believer’s baptism, we encourage you to study the matter and adopt our approach to it.
“What does membership here mean?”
Membership here isn’t simply a “status” in a religious organization – it’s a relationship, a special friendship put together by God. It consists of closeness to Him and closeness to other people in whom He lives. The tasks of membership here are the tasks of loving each other, helping each other, forgiving each other, praying for each other, working together in Jesus’ ministry to people, etc. All of these things come from God in the New Testament.
“Is regular church attendance expected of all members of the church here?”
Yes. Assembly – and our other activities – are spiritually nourishing events. It’s where we “meet the Lord together,” where He ministers to us as we live “in fellowship” with Christ. If we don’t see you regularly, we’ll eventually call to see if everything’s OK. This is not because of “rules and regulations,” but because when God saves us He makes us part of His church in relationship with others, not merely saving us and leaving us alone. He designed it so that we need each other to receive much of the ongoing help He gives us.
Obviously, we all have illness and other situations arising from time to time that keep us from attending on a given Sunday. But we want to be together with Him and each other to share in the things most important to us.
“Are members expected to give money?”
Yes. Financial giving is a personal act of worship to God: giving tells God that you trust in His goodness and generosity. God promises to bless those who trust Him enough to worship Him in this way. It’s one more means He gives us to participate in the work He Himself is doing in the world.
Making a commitment to member-relationship includes regular giving of whatever amount you believe God wants you to give. It’s your responsibility to maintain this as you believe you best can. This is the ancient practice. We don’t get involved in your personal accounting, and we don’t “demand” contributions – these are private matters between you and God. Non-member friends who wish to express worship to God in a financial way are welcome to participate here – but we do not want anyone to feel pressured to give for any reason other than the love of God and devotion to His work through this congregation.
Members are encouraged to plan regular giving of a consistent amount – this makes congregational financial planning easier.
We try to be careful and respectful about financial situations, recognizing that everyone has different circumstances. The collected money is used for various programs and expenses, all of which are available for your scrutiny. At times the congregation may learn of special needs of members, missionaries, etc. and plan special contributions – but in this, too, we try to be discreet. We want everyone to share in God’s blessing, but we also want no one to feel unfairly pressured.
All funds are strictly accounted for by our Treasurer. We provide weekly church bulletin updates on contributions received, and an annual budget and comprehensive report of all the church’s corporate income and expenses, available to all our members. We also provide tax-deductable receipts each year for all contributors, including contributions from non-member guests and friends.
“Are members expected to get involved in church activities?”
Yes, as your time and abilities permit. You will find great interest and satisfaction serving God and people in our present ministry activities, or you may want to start a new kind of activity to help people. Talk with our elders and ministers about where you can fit in to what we’re doing.
“If I were to become part of this church and later decided to leave, how can I remove myself from the congregation?”
The simplest way is for you to tell the elders you no longer wish to be identified with us.
The New Testament does have instructions for the church to formally remove a member – to “withdraw fellowship.” This happens when a member is involved in blatant disobedience to God, and refuses help in order to change. “Withdrawal” can also occur as a consequence of divisive or dangerous behaviour. It is rarely necessary and only taken as a last resort after every effort to resolve the problem in other ways.
Everyone here is learning and growing – no one is complete and perfect. So our basic approach is to encourage and help each other – not to criticize each other.
“If I want to become a member of the South Burnaby Church, do I have to do everything you say in this website, and always agree with you?”
No. The only real requirements are to have heard the Gospel and to have responded to Jesus Christ in faith and water baptism – and to maintain a cooperative attitude toward our elders and other members. We’re all in a process of growing and maturing, under the Lord’s guidance. We don’t all “get it” at the same time. Our place is to love each other and help each other grow.
However, what you read on this website is a clear summary of where we’re coming from and where we’re going. We’re doing our best to respond to God’s Spirit working among us.
We believe that our specific teachings, expectations, purpose, and overall plans are rooted in the whole Bible, and that this is a good base for responding to people around us, doing what God wants to do, and continuing to learn and grow in Him. This is where we’re going. If your sense of direction is different from ours, we encourage you to find another fellowship that better suits your perception of how to follow God.
You’re welcome to contact us with any further questions or comments.