A. The Meaning of Membership
401. The membership of The Evangelical Church consists of persons who have been received (1) on profession of faith, (2) by certificate of membership in good standing from other Evangelical Churches, or (3) by Certificate of Transfer from other recognized evangelical denominations. 402. Because church membership is a sacred fellowship involving high privileges and solemn obligations, and because uniting with the Church is one of the important events of life, applicants seeking admission should be carefully interviewed by the Minister and the significance and duties involved made clear (409; 421-427; 431-435). 403. Persons seeking admission into the membership of The Evangelical Church shall declare they have personally accepted Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and purpose to live the Christian life.
B. Local Church Membership
1. Committee on Membership
404. The local Church Council shall be the Committee on Membership in the local church to which all applications for membership shall be referred by the Minister. Persons recommended by the local Church Council shall be admitted to membership according to the form provided in the order and Discipline of The Evangelical Church. Applications for transfer or withdrawal of membership shall be referred to this committee for consideration and action (572.(2); 715.(8)).
2. Membership Record
406. Each local church shall secure a membership record book approved by the General Church Council (576; 1014.l.). 27
3. Becoming a Member
407. Church membership involves high privileges and solemn obligations in a sacred fellowship. Persons seeking membership in a local church shall submit such request to the Minister. He shall instruct all candidates for church membership in the principles of the Christian life and in the doctrines and practices of The Evangelical Church. Only when persuaded as to the genuineness of their personal faith in Jesus Christ, their understanding of the standards and regulations of The Evangelical Church, and their commitment to the vows to be taken in becoming a member of The Evangelical Church, shall the Minister present the names of such candidates for church membership to the local Church Council for approval. Upon approval for church membership, the Minister shall receive such persons into the membership of the local church according to The Discipline of The Evangelical Church (401-403; 572.(2); 715.(8); 1104).
4. Members from Other Churches
410. Persons who present certificates of transfer in good standing from other recognized evangelical churches and who have been recommended for reception into the membership of The Evangelical Church by the local Church Council according to the provisions of The Discipline (407; 715.(8)) shall in the presence of the congregation answer questions 4, 5, and 6 asked of candidates for membership (1104) and be given the right hand of fellowship. 411. When a member has been received by a Certificate of Transfer, the Minister of the church issuing such certificate shall be notified that such member has been received (431; 572.(3); 587).
5. Exceptional Cases
412. Should a candidate for membership be unable to appear before the congregation, for reasons satisfactory to the local Church Council, he may upon recommendation of said Council be received elsewhere according to the formula provided in the order and The Discipline of The Evangelical Church (715.(8); 1104). 28
6. Affiliated Membership
413. Members of The Evangelical Church temporarily residing in a community where there is an Evangelical Church may, upon application, be enrolled as affiliate members of that church. Such membership shall entitle them to the privileges of The Evangelical Church, to its pastoral oversight, to participate in its activities, and to hold office and vote therein. Affiliated members shall be counted and reported only in the membership of their home churches (576).
C. Duties of Members
1. Evidence of Sincerity
421. Every member who is serious about his personal salvation and his desire to follow Christ will give evidence of his sincerity by avoiding that which is forbidden in the Word of God and by endeavoring to do that which is enjoined therein. He will not only avoid the evils specifically forbidden in the Holy Scriptures, but will also refrain from that which cannot be practiced in the name of Christ. He will endeavor to love God with his whole heart and to serve Him with all his strength, faithfully discharging every duty belonging to the service of God. Deuteronomy 10:12; 6:5; Psalm 92:13,14; John 14:23; Colossians 1:10
2. Means of Grace
422. Every member of the Church shall be faithful in attending stated services of divine worship in the church, in observing the sacraments of the Lord’s Supper, in reading and meditating upon the criptures, and in engaging in private prayer, and in participating in the public meetings for prayer and Christian fellowship. Hebrews 10:25; Matthew 6:6; 18:19,20; 26:26; Romans 15:4
3. Family Piety
423. Heads of families should be diligent in conducting family worship, in providing religious instruction and guidance for the household, and in setting a good example in all manner of Christian living. Joshua 24:15; 1 Timothy 5:4; Acts 10:2 29
4. Love and Service
424. Every member of the Church should be zealous in good works of love and mercy. He should speak evil of no man, but should show Christian love toward all, give to the poor, and “do good unto all men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10; John 13:35; 1 Peter 1:22
5. Christian Stewardship
425. Every member of the Church should study the principles of Christian stewardship, and dedicate himself, his time, his talents and his substance to God and the advancement of His kingdom. In recognition of God’s ownership he should practice systematic and proportionate giving and regard the tithe as the basic minimum standard of giving.1 He should regard Christian liberality as a privilege and sacred duty and freely give of his substance for the spreading of the Gospel at home and abroad, for the maintenance of the local church and for the support of the agencies and enterprises of the Denomination.2
1 Malachi 3:8-12; 1 Corinthians 16:2
2 Deuteronomy 16:17; Matthew 6:3; Romans 12:8
6. Unity of the Church
426. Dissension in the Church, both in spirit and practice should be avoided. Members should ever be diligent to maintain the unity of the Church, local and general. They should not speak disparagingly of one another, but pray earnestly for and in honor prefer one another and together labor “to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:3; 1 Corinthians 1:10; 2 Corinthians 13:11; 1 Peter 3:8
7. Duty of Obedience
427. The forgoing rules, as taught in the Holy Scriptures and enjoined upon believers are herein set forth for the guidance of the members of the Church and for the proper evaluation of the Church. Should any members violate or habitually neglect these rules, those who have been appointed to watch over them shall admonish them in love; but if, after repeated and prayerful admonition they do not reform, they shall be dealt with as those disobedient to The Discipline. 1 Samuel 15:22; Luke 8:21; John 14:23 30
D. Transfer and Withdrawals
431. When a member of The Evangelical Church moves from one local church to another, his Minister shall notify the Minister of the church to which he is moved. Upon the request of such member, if he is in good standing, the Minister, upon the approval of the local Church Council, shall issue a Certificate of Transfer and send it to the Minister of the church to which such member has moved (572.(3); 576; 587; 715.(8)).
2. Certificate of Dismissal or Withdrawal
432. When a member of The Evangelical Church desires to unite with another Evangelical Church, or to withdraw from the Church, he shall be entitled to receive a Certificate of Good Standing and Recommendation, or an Honorable Withdrawal issued by the Minister upon the approval of the local Church Council (572.(3); 576; 588; 715.(8)).
3. Non-Resident Member
433. A member of an Evangelical Church who resides so far outside the community in which his home church is located that he cannot reasonably be expected to attend services regularly shall be classified as a non-resident member, provided that such classification shall bear no relationship to his faithfulness to the church either by attendance, service or financial support (576).
4. Assisting Non-Resident Members
434. When a non-resident member fails to keep in touch with his home church or to unite with another church within two years, his name may be removed from the membership roll and classified as “Removed Without Certificate” by the local Church Council, provided, however, that the Minister and church officers have made earnest effort to induce the member to be faithful to his vows of church membership and have endeavored to assist him in uniting with the church in the community in which he now resides. The individual shall be notified of such action in writing, if possible (576; 715.(8)). 31
5. Inactive Members
435. When a member of The Evangelical Church fails to attend the services of his home church and/or gives no financial support for a period of one year his name shall be placed on a list to become the special concern of the Minister and the local Church Council who shall make every effort to bring such member into vital relations with his church. If, after the second year such member refuses to support his church by attendance, service and/or financial support, his name may be removed from the roll of the church, and classified as “Removed Without Certificate” by action of the local Church Council, but only after due notice in writing has been given to such member (576; 715.(8)).
B. RECEPTION OF ADULTS INTO CHURCH MEMBERSHIP
In the name of God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
ADDRESS TO CANDIDATES
Christian friend(s), we rejoice with you that through the grace of God you have been brought to a knowledge of Christ our Lord and have been made partaker(s) of this great salvation. We rejoice likewise, that you are seeking admission into the Church, which is the organized body of believers in Christ. We trust that through this fellowship you may grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ our Lord, and that you may become qualified for larger and better service in the interest of His cause and kingdom.
In order that the congregation here assembled may know your purpose and be assured that you (each) are a proper person to be received into the membership of The Evangelical Church, we ask you to answer the following questions:
1. Do you believe the Bible to be the Word of God, and that therein only is revealed the way of salvation, and do you take this Word to be your rule of faith and conduct? If so, answer: I do.
2. Have you received Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord and do you now confess Him? If so, answer: I have received Him, and do now confess Him.
3. Do you promise to renounce all ungodliness, to follow Christ, to make diligent use of the means of grace and sincerely to seek the advancement of the Kingdom of God? If so, answer: Yes, by the help of God.
4. Will you faithfully endeavor to know your privilege and responsibility as a Christian, and as a member of The Evangelical Church? Will you be loyal to the church, and sustain it with your regular attendance and uphold it with your earnest prayer? If so, answer: Yes, I will do so.
5. Will you contribute of your means to the support of the church, as the Lord prospers you, and will you render Christian service according to your ability and opportunity? If so, answer: I will.
6. Are you acquainted with the doctrines, spiritual culture and moral standards of The Evangelical Church (101-225)? Are you in harmony with them and will you adhere to them? If so, answer: I am and will do so by the help of God.
O Lord, our great Head of the Church, bestow upon your servant(s) your heavenly blessing, and grant that (he/she/they) may ever be faithful to you and to your church. Help (him/her/them) to keep these vows made here today. Enable (him/her/them), we pray, to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Fill (him/her/them) with Your Holy Spirit. Make (him/her/them) fruitful in every good work. Keep (him/her/them) unto everlasting life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
WELCOME INTO FELLOWSHIP
(While the members of the Church stand, the Minister shall address the candidates as follows:)
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we welcome you into the fellowship of The Evangelical Church and of this congregation, and pray that God may unite us all in the bonds of Christian faith and brotherhood and make us b and useful in His service. In token of our love and confidence I now extend to you the right hand of Christian fellowship.
CHARGE TO THE CONGREGATION
(While the members of the Church remain standing, the Minister shall address them saying:)
Members of … (Local Name)… Evangelical Church, I commend to your love and care this (person/these) people whom we have this day received into the fellowship of our church. Will you enter into a covenant with (him/her/them) to cherish (him/her/them) in brotherly love and kindness as one with us in the Lord? If so, answer: By the grace of God, we will.
(The congregation may then sing a hymn such as “Blest Be the Tie that Binds” or “I Love Your Kingdom, Lord”).
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. … The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. (Philippians 4:7, 23)