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View of the Westlynn Baptist sanctuary with congregation


Being a Member of the Church Body.

“For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”

— Romans 12:4-5

The New Testament repeatedly uses the image of a “body” to describe the Church (Romans 12:4, 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, Ephesians 3:6, 4:1, 4:4, 4:10-16, 5:23, 5:30, Colossians 1:18-24, 2:19, 3:15). Our human bodies are healthy only when each individual part (or “member”) of our body continually shares in the life of the body as a whole, doing its part to cooperate with and serve all the other members of the body. Likewise, the theological fact that each individual Christian is part of a larger body (the Church) implies that Christians should grow in their connections—to each other, to their leaders (e.g., pastors-elders and teachers), and ultimately, through their participation in the church body, to Christ, who is the head of the Church (Ephesians 4:11-16).

How do we apply this biblical truth in our local church? One way our church does this is by encouraging church membership through voluntary participation in a membership process. In practical terms, what biblical aims are fulfilled by engaging in a membership process, rather than, for example, just considering everyone who attends our public gatherings to be a member?

1.    Doctrinal unity.

Not everyone who attends our worship services is a Christian. Even if someone considers themselves a Christian, not everyone shares our core Scriptural and theological convictions. However, the church cannot act in unity unless there is basic agreement on the essentials of the Christian faith that was “once for all delivered to the saints”—i.e., the truths that must be proclaimed, lived out and carefully safeguarded by the church (Amos 3:3; Eph. 4:1-6; Jude 3). Church membership is your public affirmation of adherence to our church’s Statement of Faith—which is the essential foundation for all that our church is or does.

 2.    Commitment to living life in Christian community.

We know that not everyone who attends our church is willing to commit to continually sharing their life with other members of the church, specifically, by loving one another (John 13:34-35, Romans 12:10, 13:8, 1 Peter 1:22, 1 John 4:7-12); carrying one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2); serving, teaching and admonishing one another (1 Peter 4:10, Galatians 5:13; Col. 3:16); regularly gathering together for mutual encouragement (Hebrews 3:13, 10:24-25; Acts 2:42), being held spiritually accountable by submitting to one another and confessing sins to one another (Ephesians 5:21, James 5:16); living in harmony together (Romans 12:16); and bearing with one another and forgiving each other where necessary (Romans 15:7, Ephesians 4:2, 4:32, Colossians 3:13), for example. Significantly, the biblical teaching to live life together and to use our spiritual gifts in love to serve one another in the church arises directly from the biblical metaphor of the Church being the Body of Christ (Romans 12:4-8; 1 Corinthians 12-14; Ephesians 4:16). Becoming a church member is your public affirmation of these biblical obligations and the Westlynn Church Membership Covenant represents your promise to other church members to fulfil these and other biblical teachings as to how Christians should live together in love (John 13:34-35; Romans 12:4-8; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 Corinthians 12-14; Ephesians 4:16).  

 3.    Recognition of church leadership.

The same Bible passages that speak of the Church as the Body of Christ also mention spiritual leadership gifts. For example: (a) Romans 12:6-8 mentions that the gifts given to the Body include teaching and leading; (b) in Ephesians 4:11-14, God gives the gift of certain kinds of leaders including pastors-teachers “to equip the saints for the work of ministry” to lead us to spiritual maturity; and (c) 1 Corinthians 12:27-28 also lists several categories of leadership gifts. Ultimately, Christ is the head of the Church (Ephesians 4:15-16; Colossians 1:18).  However, Scripture clearly teaches that Christ rules His Church partly through the leadership of a group of godly and biblically qualified pastors-elders (Acts 14:23, 20:17, 20:28, 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9, 1 Peter 5:1-2; Philippians 1:1, James 5:14). Members of the church are called to submit to the godly leadership of a local church’s pastor-elders (1 Pet. 5:5; Hebrews 13:7, 17; 1 Corinthians 16:15-16; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; 1 Timothy 5:17). Membership in the church expresses your recognition of—and submission to—the biblical teaching that Christ, as the Chief Shepherd, has appointed pastors-elders in the church who are accountable to Him for shepherding your soul (Acts 20:28, 1 Peter 5:2-4, Hebrews 13:17; Ephesians 4:11-12; John 21:15-17). Similarly, pastors-elders need to know for whom they will be held responsible before God (Hebrews 13:17). Membership thus provides spiritual and practical clarity in church polity (governance).  At Westlynn Baptist Church, our pastor-elders generally require someone to be a member (or to be working towards that end) in order to be entrusted with a specific church ministry.

 4.    Mutual accountability in holiness.

God intended the church to faithfully represent Jesus to the world by us living holy lives, both individually and together as a community (1 Peter 1:15-16; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Hebrews 12:14; Titus 2:11-12; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7; Ephesians 4:24; 1 Timothy 4:7-8).  The early church recognized that not everyone who attended church services or who professed faith in Christ was truly a Christian. For example, the church distinguished between church members in good standing, unbelieving “outsiders,” and apostates or heretics: see 1 Corinthians 14:22-25; Colossians 4:5; 2 Corinthians 13:5; 1 John 2:19, 3:6-10; 1 Corinthians 5:5; 1 Timothy 1:18-20, 4:1-2, 2 Timothy 3:1-8; Jude 3-4.  For the first category (faithful Christians), the church is a means of sanctification (i.e., helping us fight against sin), challenging sinful behavior and calling members to repentance (Galatians 6:1-2; James 5:16; Hebrews 3:12-13,10:24-25; Matthew 18:15-17; Romans 15:14; James 5:19-20).  The Great Commission is fulfilled only if the church teaches and directs her members to obey Christ in all that he taught personally or through the Apostles, a process we call “discipleship” (i.e., learning to be a disciple of Jesus by following his teachings and being conformed to his personal example of holiness): see Matthew 28:18-20; Romans 8:29, 12:2, 13:14.  Discipleship requires discipline both on a personal level and as a church. Therefore, in cases where a member is persistently ungodly and unrepentant after repeated warnings, the church as a whole is called to remove such persons from membership as a sign that these members do not represent Christ and, indeed, are in danger of being excluded from God’s Kingdom if they fail to repent of their sinful conduct (Matthew 18:15-17; James 5:19-20; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13, 6:9-11).

In summary, the practice of church membership promotes spiritual accountability as follows: (1) first, it is a means for the church’s leadership and members to challenge one another to grow in holiness and godliness by defeating sin through the power of the Spirit; (2) second, we protect the reputation of Jesus Christ in the world by publicly affirming which faithful Christians the church believes belong to Christ; and (3) in the event that a member is persistently unfaithful, church membership is the basis of church discipline, by which the church attempts in love to restore a sinner to Christ in order to save their soul (Matthew 18:15-20; 1 Corinthians 5:4-5; James 5:19-20).


Jesus Christ established the Church for our own good.  A Christian needs to understand—and live out—the biblical truth that “we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Romans 12:4-5). The leadership of Westlynn Church is persuaded that voluntary membership in our church through our Membership Covenant is an important part of the discipleship process, whereby Christians can declare that they are members of Christ by their membership in a particular local church (Westlynn) and the means by which the church, on its part, calls upon her members to obey Scripture in all that it teaches about life together as a spiritual family. If you are a follower of Jesus and want to explore becoming a member of the Westlynn church family and/or seek to be baptized as a sign of your discipleship to Jesus Christ, please contact Pastor-Elder David Gileff about our Membership and Baptism class, which is being held at the church on Friday evenings at 7:00 pm.


David Gileff

Steps to Become a Member.

  1. Register for and complete a church membership class with David Gileff.

  2. Review the Westlynn church covenant then sign, snap a photo/scan, and send back to David Gileff.

  3. Review Statement of Faith (Baptist Faith and Message 2000).

  4. Write a 1-page testimony (or more if you want) about how you came to know Jesus and send it to David Gileff.

  5. Upon completion of the above, schedule an interview with David Gileff to review your application.

  6. If you have not been baptized, schedule a date to read your testimony in front of the congregation and be baptized.

  7. Your name will be brought forward at our next congregational meeting. The congregation will then listen as you share your testimony (unless it was already read at your baptism) and vote to receive you into membership at the church.

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