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Church Membership?

Discussion in 'General Discussions' started by naomanos, Jun 10, 2014.

  1. My wife and I attend with our eighteen month old daughter a non-denominational Independent Southern Baptist leaning church. We both enjoy the service, it is a Bible believing church and we feel that the pastor is a wonderful man.

    With that said, one thing that does bother me is that in order to be considered a member you must sign a membership agreement. I will not go into the what is in the agreement as there is only one thing that I disagree with and that is in regards to tithing. That is another subject for another time and frankly really prefer not to get into a conversation regarding tithing.

    I have read the Bible cover-to-cover one and on my way through once again. I do not remember anything regarding having to sign a membership agreement in order to be considered a member.

    So I am not sure what to think. This is the one church that is in our area that is within reasonable driving distance (it is only 1/2 a mile away) that both my wife and I agree on. It is a smaller church and the service time that we go to is perfect size for my mother-in-law who prefers a smaller congregation. I too enjoy smaller congregations as it feels more like family to me. They also have a really good children's program that we want our daughter to be part of.

    It is just that membership agreement that doesn't sit well with me.

    Any advice?
  2. Yes. I will be glad to respond to yur comment.

    First of all, there is no such thing as a"Non-denominational Southern Baptist Church". I suspect that it is a church which simply has the word "Baptist" in it. Such as Northside Baptist Church". The name does not make it Southern Baptist. So what you belong to is probably an "Independant" Baptist church. That is no problem at all, but it does say that they are not accountable to any higher athority. I just wanted you to be sure of where you are.

    The fact that they are demanding that you sign a membership agreement which includes a promise to tithe tells me that they are in fact NOT a Southern Baptist Church. That is NOT a practice that I have ever been associated with and I have been a Southern Baptist now for about 5o years.

    I understand that an agreement to tithe and the amount you tithe helps in allowing the church to plan its budget from year to year. The Bible also intructes us to give the tithe and that we are to bless God as He blesses us. However, when an agreement is signed, it then can be used as a "leverage tool" to make sure that you are in fact tithing. I personally do not like that way of doing business as a church and would not allow it to take place.

    We, the church of Jesus operates on faith and not a budget. The church and its leadership can always make adjustments according to the income it receives from month to month.

  3. Thank you for your reply.

    When I say non-denominational, that is what they call themselves, but they lean towards the Independent Southern Baptist way. They have a link to the Southern Baptist Convention of 2000 under essential beliefs. However, they do not have Baptist in their name. They are simply called The Rock. When I asked the Pastor about what denomination when I first met him, he told me exactly what I listed above.

    I wish that I could change churches, however, this is the only church within a reasonable distance from our home in five years of searching for a church home that my wife and I both agree on. She is sick of church hopping, and does not want to do it anymore. Frankly, so am I. So I am not sure what to do.
  4. You can certainly be an adherent to a church if you do not agree with the tithing requirement. Prospective members of our church are apprised that tithing is a part of one's membership, although there is no such practice as signing an agreement. They are told that if they have a problem with tithing, then they are more than welcome, but they do not have to become members. It is only right that we should want people who are fully committed.
  5. Then they are a Non-denomination Church. It is either yea or nay but can not be some of both. When one says that they have a "link" through the 2000 Essential Belief's document, that means they are teaching what the Southern Baptist believe, without participating in the Cooperative Program of giving. That is a commitment to give to the Convention which then passes that gift onto the workers in the missionary field.

    Why not simply attend the church on a regualr basis if you are concerned with the agreement issue. Do not sign it and just be regualar in your attendance and giving. I am sure that they will not run you out for that reason when you explain it.

    Bless you as you consider what to do.
  6. I do not want this thread to turn into a tithing debate.
    christianbacktobasics and Huntingteckel say Amen and like this.
  7. That's not what it is. The point is, if you don't wanna, don't. Churches have every right to decide for themselves how they will receive membership. personally, I don't like the requirement to sign anything, so if you don't, then don't. It doesn't mean you cannot be a regular adherent.
  8. But that's the only part of the membership agreement you mentioned. So it immediately became the focus of attention.
  9. It's the only issue I have beyond signing the membership agreement itself. So is the reason I mentioned it only.

    The rest I have no problem with and are really common sense such as no bad mouthing the church or a member or members of the congregation. Taking a beginning class that they have and being baptized. We both were baptized already and took the class just to check it out.
  10. Here's my take on church membership. When you are looking for a church, it's kind of like dating (please bear with me). You go on several dates with many different people until you find that one you want to make a commitment with. Likewise, you attend many different church's until you find the one the God calls you to. For me, making a commitment to the church is akin to marriage. I'm telling the church they can depend on me to attend regularly and I will help out in various ministries that I am called for. At the same time, the church makes a commitment to guide me in me spiritual endeavours and hold me accountable in my daily life. Signing a agreement is telling me that they take membership very seriously. I'm sure the tithing portion of the agreement (this is all I will say about that subject) is to make sure you're aware of their stance and to make sure you're on board. I seriously doubt you would receive a bill in the mail if you fell behind on your 'quota'.
  11. I don't sign anything unless I absolutely have to. I don't know how it's worded but it can be used against you legally if they decided to go that route. I'm not saying that they would, but still. Your signature is a very big deal in courts. I wouldn't deal with the membership if I were you, but still attend the church since you say you and your wife like it.
  12. Hello, have you spoken to your Pastor about your concerns?
    TezriLi likes this.
  13. Most churches go by membership. In defense of many of them, it's not to be exclusive, but to be more inclusive. For example, they want you to become a member 1) because they want you to worship with them and 2) if you are falling from the church or need help or even if there is reason to celebrate within your family, the church wants to be your support for those things. This is why I strongly agree with church membership.

    Though there is a difference between this argument and having membership strictly for the exclusive factor: "You can only come here if you are a member. If you don't sign, we will not let you in." That's a problem.

    Regarding tithing. tithing is one's voluntary financial response to God, not a written contract. What they are asking for is church membership fees disguised as tithing.
    Huntingteckel and TezriLi say Amen and like this.
  14. I was a member of a church (1) without the requirement of signing for nearly 51 years, have been a member of a place of worship (2) for nearly 16 years (although I attended it sporadically much longer while being a member of the church; no signing required by anyone), and I've worked for a church (3) @ 10 years (requires signing for membership). This is my limited experience I am using for my answer -- long but limited in different places.

    (1) Allowed no vote of any kind for leadership. Pastors and leaders were chosen for us, buildings and building projects were just "done": all decisions were made for us. We just stayed quiet and complied. We were expected to "tithe," and they knew if we did or not, reprimanding those who did not.

    (2) We don't believe in tithing, the congregation is in complete control including voting, one becomes a member by mere continued attendance.

    (3) Many who attend are not members. Membership requires attending classes and signing an agreement regarding salvation and agreement with the basic tenets of faith that does not mention "tithing."

    From my knowledge, LysanderShapiro is right in what he writes:
  15. I do not think that is their reasoning Lysander. When my wife needed help three weeks ago with a ride home from the hospital, the pastor's wife picked her up without question. We had attended this church before back in 2012 for a few months. They had let us hold a baby shower on their property.

    There was no membership form signed and they required nothing from us.

    I think what we're going to do is just keep attending without signing the firm and see what happens.
    Euphemia likes this.
  16. Maybe not but that would still mean you'd have to sign something if you want to be a "member, " and like I said before if you sign something it can be used against you. I probably wouldn't even continue to go to the church after learning that's what they require but I understand the position you're in.
  17. May be you should speak with deacons or the Pastor? Is it such a big church that you can't even speak with leaders? I understand the need for membership in some churches.. When they select leaders, they would want people who would align with their doctrinal beliefs.. Otherwise, the church is simply going to get split.. Bible does not instruct churches to get formal membership.. In my church we don't have any such thing.. The only membership is being born-again.. Invitation for membership is given at the end of each service :)

    May be the pastor will be willing to accept you as a member inspite of the difference.. Personally, I don't know if you should worry about it.. If you enjoy everything else at the Church, then why let this membership thing bother you? Spiritually, you are already member of that church, my church and everyone else's Church :)
    TezriLi likes this.

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