How does your church welcome new members? What process do you employ in order to determine who can and should join? Here is what we do.
The first step is somebody making known that they would like to join in membership. Sometimes this comes from the person first, other times it is prompted by someone asking them (if they’ve been coming a while) about joining the church. Sometimes a member prompts the elders and suggests such and such a person is a believer and ought to be considered for membership.
Once we know someone is looking to join, we arrange a time for two elders to go and meet with the candidate. We are ultimately looking to hear their testimony of how they came to faith and their understanding of the gospel. We aren’t looking for a theological treatise, just some clarity on the need to have actually converted and evidence of a basic gospel understanding.
Following an interview with two elders, those doing the interview report back to the other elders. If the two are happy to proceed, we announce at the nearest Sunday service that the person has applied for membership and is being commended to the church for membership.
After this, we give the church two weeks to ask their own questions. Some will make sure they arrange a time to meet and interview the candidate for themselves. Others will simply accept the recommendation of the elders. But we are keen to ensure that the church have the opportunity to satisfy themselves that this person is a genuine believer.
Following the two week opportunity to interview the candidate, unless there is a General Church Meeting coming up soon at which it can be included as an item, we hold a Special Church Meeting to vote on the application to membership. The candidate must be affirmed by over 50% of the congregation in order to be accepted into membership.
If the candidate has not yet been baptised, a date is set for a baptism and they are welcomed into membership at the same meeting at which they are baptised. If the candidate has previously been baptised, they are welcomed into membership at the next Sunday service and are invited to join in the Lord’s Supper.