Why does Bethany have “members”?
Bethany is a church, and the Bible uses the metaphor of a body to describe the church: “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.” 1 Cor. 12:12 (NIV). It’s a beautiful illustration of how we’re each created to serve different functions, we need everyone to function in order to be a healthy body, and all of us as separate parts find purpose and unity under Jesus, “the head of the body, the church” (Col. 1:18). Members are the church (Eph. 2:19-22).
What’s the difference between a member and somebody who just attends Bethany every week?
At Bethany, we make a distinction between “members” and “guests.” If you’re not a member, then you’re technically a guest that remains to a certain extent separated from our church family, and separated from the maturity, protection, accountability, and care that comes with being an active part of the church. This may not make much difference for visitors and non-Christians, but Christians who consume rather than commit to a local church do a disservice to Jesus’ body (the church) and themselves. Members, on the other hand, participate as the church: sacrificing time, talents, and treasure; committing to the care and community of their fellow members; and submitting to the authority God has established to lead our congregation.
Why should I become a member?
Bethany Baptist Church is a family, adopted by God (Gal. 4:6-7 Eph. 1:5). We care for each other, pray for each other, and serve together. If you’re already a Christian, if you’re already involved in the Bethany family, if you’re already giving of your finances and your time, then you’re already fulfilling some functions of a member. Without making an official commitment, however, we cannot provide the same level of pastoral care and community support, in part because we may not know who you are, and in part because the Bible requires that we take care of our family first (Eph. 2:19 cf. Gal. 6:10).
If you’re not a Christian, don’t worry about membership until you’ve been reconciled to God though Jesus. If you are a Christian who has spent a lot of time at Bethany, however, search your heart and identify your hesitation. There may be valid reasons to abstain from membership. But we’re rebels by our cursed nature; if you bristle at the very idea of becoming a member, ask yourself why–and don’t hesitate to speak with a leader at your church.
What are the benefits of being a member?
Scripture calls us a body, a family, a household–being a Christian is not a solo effort. Jesus works through the church (Eph. 2:10), the church is Jesus’ body (1 Cor. 12:27), and apart from Jesus, you can do nothing (John 15).
The church isn’t Costco, it isn’t a country club, and it isn’t the gym you belong to; members are the church. “In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ… Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household,” Eph. 1:4-5, 2:19 (NIV)
You don’t join for the perks–although members do enjoy greater access to our campus, and certain volunteer opportunities are only available to members. The benefit is that we get to worship Jesus together, serve in His kingdom, and be children of God! We enjoy the guidance that his Word provides, and, when sin comes between us, we enjoy the reconciliation Jesus’ blood provides.