Section 1: The Church Defined
The word church (ekklēsia) means “called-out ones”. A church is a local body of disciples united by a shared faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, who are covenanted together through the fellowship of the gospel. (Acts 2:47, 14:27; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Colossians 1:18)
See article ____ in West Lenoir Baptist Church Statement of faith.
Section 2: Church Membership
Church membership is the means by which regenerated believers in Jesus Christ, locally join together to minister alongside one another, submit to one another, serve one another, and unite together with Christ.
~ Romans 12:5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
The membership of West Lenoir Baptist Church shall be comprised of those who:
- Publicly profess his or her faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. (Matthew 10:32; Romans 10:9)
- Are a disciple of Jesus Christ, showing biblical evidence of regeneration. (1 John 2:29; Galatians 5:22-25)
Have been scripturally baptized following his or her conversion. (Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:38; 8:12; 19:5)
- Communicate to the pastoral leadership his or her desire to be a member of West Lenoir Baptist Church.
- Promise to keep the commitments expressed in the West Lenoir Baptist Church Membership Covenant. (Ephesians 4:16)
- Believe the teaching of scripture as conveyed in the West Lenoir Baptist Church Statement of Faith.
- Are recommended for membership by the pastoral leadership and are affirmed by the congregation.
*Any deviations from the above will be considered on an individual basis by the pastoral leadership. See Section 4: Reception into Membership.
Section 3: Purpose of Church Membership
Church membership gives a local congregation the structure necessary to:
- Define and protect the purity of the gospel message. (Galatians 1:7-8, 2 Thessalonians 2:15)
- Recognize those belonging to West Lenoir Baptist Church. (Matthew 16:19)
- Identify who participates in the responsibilities and privileges of the church.
- Minister adequate care, nurture, and protection to each member of the congregation. (Acts 6:1)
- Correct and seek the restoration of erring members under Christ’s authority by maintaining a biblical standard of doctrine and conduct. (1 Corinthians 5:1-5)
Section 4: Reception into Membership
The regular means of joining West Lenoir Baptist Church will be as follows in this section.
1. Requests to Unite
- Any believer who is regularly attending to West Lenoir Baptist Church, who desires to join the membership, should communicate their request to the church’s pastoral leadership.
- Upon receiving a request to join West Lenoir Baptist Church, the pastoral leadership will provide the individual with a membership packet to review and complete.
- The membership packet will include (at minimum):
- New Member Application
- Church Covenant
- Church Constitution/Bylaws
- Church Statement of Faith
• The pastoral leadership will schedule a membership interview with the individual(s) requesting to join West Lenoir Baptist Church.
2. Membership Interview
Once the candidate for membership has read and completed the forms in the membership packet he or she will meet with a member of the pastoral leadership and another church member delegated by the congregation.
At the membership interview the pastoral leadership will:
- Discuss with each candidate his or her basic Christian experience and receive the individual(s) testimony.
- Answer any questions about the Church’s doctrinal beliefs as expressed in the church’s Statement of Faith and verify the candidates general understanding and agreement.
- Consider the membership request based on the standards for membership expressed in section 2.
- Confirm each candidate’s serious intention to support wholeheartedly the total ministry of this church, and to live for Christ in accordance with our church covenant.
3. Recommendation to the Congregation
When a candidate is recommended for membership by the pastoral leadership the individual(s) will be presented to the congregation for a vote to be received into membership. Congregational votes to receive members will follow the processes designated in the church’s Constitution/Bylaws.
Baptisms and Letters of Recommendation:
- The church will coordinate with those candidates who are recommended for membership and are awaiting baptism to schedule a baptism service prior to the congregational vote for reception into membership.
- Upon recommendation for membership the church will request a letter of recommendation from the former church of those candidates coming from another church of similar faith and practice prior to the congregational vote for reception into membership.
Membership candidates who are not recommended for membership by the pastoral leadership will not be presented to the congregation for a vote.
4. Reception into Fellowship
Once a candidate receives the congregation’s vote of affirmation, the individual is received into West Lenoir Baptist Church as a member in good standing having the full benefits and duties of membership.
Upon reception into the membership of West Lenoir Baptist Church an individual relinquishes membership in any other church.
Upon reception into the membership of West Lenoir Baptist Church everyone will be enrolled in a Sunday School class for instruction, growth, and care. (Matthew 28:20; Deuteronomy 31:12-13)
Section 5: Forms of Membership
The membership of West Lenoir Baptist Church will be formed by regular members and special members.
1. Regular Membership will be the ordinary form of membership for West Lenoir Baptist Church. Active members should normally be present for worship and other meetings of the church. Active members should prayerfully vote in church elections and carry out the ministry of the body as long as they remain members in good standing.
2. Special Membership is a special form of membership appropriate for extraordinary circumstances. Non-attending members may include those who are unable to attend because of physical/health limitations, military service, Christian workers, and others whose relationship to the church involves special circumstances. Non-attending membership will be reviewed by the pastoral leadership on a case-by-case basis.
Section 6: Membership Duties
All followers of Jesus are called to a life of discipleship (Luke 9:23). The members of West Lenoir Baptist Church will worship, praise, and seek to bring glory to our Lord Jesus Christ with our whole life (1 Cor 10:31).
The Holy Spirit, alive in each believer, applies the truth revealed in Holy Scripture to transform believers into the image of Jesus Christ. Every member of West Lenoir Baptist Church should be growing in sanctification and utilizing the talents and gifts afforded to them by the Spirit for the building up of the saints.
~ James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
The offices and ministry of West Lenoir Baptist Church are to be carried out only by members in good standing. Non-members may serve as observers or as the need arises upon the approval of the pastoral leadership.
In accord with the Christian practice and habits enumerated in the West Lenoir Baptist Church Covenant, each member assumes responsibility for the ministry, witness, and life of the church. In His wisdom, God has prescribed certain duties we are to carry out one to another. Some of these are:
- To love one another sincerely in deed and truth. (John 13:34, 35; Romans 12:9; 13:8–10; 1 John 3:18)
- To labor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:3)
- To work for the edification and spiritual benefit of the whole body. (1 Corinthians 14:12, 26; Ephesians 4:12, 29; 2:21, 22)
- To pray with and for one another. (James 5:16)
- Not to neglect the assembling of ourselves together and to promote one another’s spiritual benefit. (Hebrews 10:25; Acts 2:42)
- To contend unanimously for the faith and truth once delivered to the saints. (Psalm 93:5; Zechariah 14:2; 1 Corinthians 14:33–40; 11:2)
- To contribute freely and cheerfully to the financial wellbeing of the church according to how God has prospered each member. (1 Timothy 6:17-19; 1 Corinthians 8:3, 16:1,2; Ephesians 4:28 2 Corinthians 9:7)
- To respect and recognize the appointed officers of the church. (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; Hebrews 13:17; Philippians 3:17)
These duties of membership (while not a comprehensive list) are appropriate for and are to be carried out by every member. The following section is instructive in the event a church member’s failure to keep the duty of a disciple and/or the duties of membership.
Section 7: Discipline of Members
West Lenoir Baptist Church is shaped and visibly known by its members (2 Corinthians 2:15). Each member has covenanted one with another to believe and to live as a Christian. All members are under the authority of the church and the membership has the responsibility of holding one another accountable to follow Jesus (Hebrews 3:13).
~ Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
1. Church Discipline Defined
Church discipline is the Biblically prescribed process of correcting sin in the life of the congregation and its members. In church discipline, the local church calls professing believers to repentance in hopes of restoration. Church discipline typically begins privately and informally, growing to include the whole church when necessary.
2. Objective of Church Discipline
The objective(s) of church discipline is:
- The repentance and restoration of the erring member (Matthew 7:26-27, 18:15; Hebrews 12:11).
- The instruction and guidance of the membership as a body (Romans 15:14; Hebrews 10:24; Romans 15:14).
- To maintain the purity of the whole church (1 Corinthians 5:6-7; Ephesians 5:27; 2 John 10-11).
- To preserve a clear corporate witness in the world (2 Peter 2:2; John 13:35; Romans 2:24; 1 Timothy 3:7; Ephesians 5:11; 1 John 3:10).
- The refection of God’s glory and holiness (Matthew 5:16; John 15:8; 2 Corinthians 6:15, 7:1; 1 Peter 2:12).
3. Grounds for Church Discipline
Any member of West Lenoir Baptist Church who has knowledge of an erring member’s false teaching or misconduct has the duty to warn and encourage the erring member in truth and love (Ephesians 4:14-16). Whenever possible, reasonable efforts based in personal counsel and encouragement will seek to resolve disputes, correct error, and remove offenses.
When individual private counsel has failed to correct the error, the matter will be brought to the attention of the pastoral leadership. Upon receiving credible testimony of substantial false teaching or misconduct, the pastoral leadership will follow the Biblical processes for church discipline.
Church discipline will be initiated for any member of West Lenoir Baptist Church who:
- Teaches, publicly promotes, or insists on holding to false doctrine. (Titus 3:9-10)
- Persists in sinful conduct by which the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be dishonored. (1 Corinthians 5:11-13, 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15)
- Opposes the welfare of the church in disturbing the unity of the body. (Romans 16:17)
- Conducts himself or herself in a manner inconsistent with Biblical teaching to cast doubt on their profession of faith. (1 Corinthians 6:1-10)
4. Procedures of Church Discipline
All acts of church discipline must be lovingly carried out for the care of the erring member, the protection of the church, and for the glory of Christ. Church discipline may include private admonition by the pastoral leadership, formal admonition by the congregation, temporary suspension of membership privileges, removal from church office, or dismissal from membership.
The procedures of church discipline are ordered in the Holy Scripture in Matthew 18, 1 Corinthians 5, and 2 Thessalonians 3. This procedure shall include:
- The erring member is confronted in love and care by a fellow believer seeking to restore, correct error, and encourage faithfulness. (Matthew 18:15)
If the one in error repents and seeks restoration, then the matter is forgiven, and fellowship resumed.
- If the erring member fails to repent and continues in error, then they are to be addressed by two or three believers with the objective of establishing the nature of the sin being confronted and the response of the member in error. (Matthew 18:16)
The inclusion of additional witnesses gives additional encouragement for the erring member to appropriately respond and seek restoration. Wisdom would suggest that these additional witnesses be mature Christians and often from the church’s pastoral leadership. If repentance and restoration are achieved as a part of this confrontation by two or three witnesses, then the erring member is forgiven, and the matter is resolved.
- If time reveals the erring member has not repented or sought restoration, the witnesses and pastoral leadership will report the situation to the congregation. (Matthew 18:17) The congregation will spend time diligently praying for the repentance of and pleading with the erring member to repent and seek restoration. (2 Thessalonians 3:15) If repentance and restoration are achieved by the work of the congregation then the erring member is forgiven, fellowship is restored, and the matter will be reported back to the congregation as settled.
- Should all the previous efforts at pursuing the erring member fail to produce repentance, then the pastoral leadership will recommend that the congregation vote to remove the one in error from membership. (Matthew 18:17, 2 Corinthians 2:6)
The continued refusal of the erring member has cast grave doubt on the condition of their eternal soul and the congregation will seek to evangelize and pray for the conversion of the individual. (1 Corinthians 5:5, 12-13, Titus 3:10-11)
- In extraordinary situations when sinful conduct or false teaching has been publicly scandalous and wicked in nature, so that great harm is done to the name of Christ and His church, the pastoral leadership may recommend to the congregation an immediate vote of exclusion from membership. (1 Corinthians 5:2)
- The final vote of the congregation to remove an individual from membership is authoritative and without appeal (Matthew 18:18-21).
- If an individual previously excluded from membership desires restoration and has demonstrated repentance and renewed belief in the gospel, he or she will be joyfully welcomed back into the church following the procedure for reception into membership in Section 4 above (2 Corinthians 2:5-11).
5. Accusation of Pastors
All members of West Lenoir Baptist Church are under the authority of the church and may be subject to church discipline. Any accusation against a member of the pastoral leadership must be confirmed by two or three witnesses in accordance with the Scripture (1 Timothy 5:19-21).
Section 8: Removal from Membership
The local church represents the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. Just as the reception of members is directed by biblical principles so will the removal of membership follow biblical standards. (Matthew 16:19) Termination of membership concludes a person’s rights, privileges and responsibilities held by the membership of West Lenoir Baptist Church.
Membership in West Lenoir Baptist Church will terminate in one of the following ways:
1. Death – Those members who are removed from our midst by death naturally will be removed from the membership roll. At the next church business meeting following the death of a saint, the congregation will be notified that the member has graduated to eternity and is released from the membership roll.
2. Transfer of Membership – Any person leaving the membership of West Lenoir Baptist Church should seek to establish membership in another church of similar faith and practice as soon as possible.
Letters of recommendation for membership transfer will be granted upon a vote of approval by the congregation.
- When West Lenoir Baptist Church receives a request for a letter of recommendation for membership transfer, the request will be reviewed by the pastoral leadership for recommendation to the congregation.
- The pastoral leadership will only recommend a letter of recommendation be granted to other gospel believing and preaching churches of similar faith and practice.
- Those requests for letters of recommendation which are recommended by the pastoral leadership will be presented to the congregation for a vote to grant the letter and to remove the individual from the membership roll.
- No letter of recommendation will be given to any member who is subject to an ongoing church discipline process.
- Other requests for letters that are not recommended by the pastoral leadership may be considered for removal of membership under number 3 below.
3. Removal from Roll - In certain situations, a member may be removed from membership for reasons that do not warrant discipline and in which a letter of recommendation would not be granted. Such cases may include:
- A member has united with another gospel believing church not of like faith and practice. Members who join other churches that do not align substantially with the West Lenoir Baptist Church Statement of Faith will not receive a letter of recommendation, but upon a vote of approval of the West Lenoir Baptist Church congregation, will be removed from the membership roll. (note -When West Lenoir Baptist Church receives notice of a member’s intention to unite with another church who’s faith and practice is outside of historic orthodox Christian teaching, the church discipline process in Section 7 above may be pursued out of great concern for the member’s soul.)
- A member who has relocated out of the area and is no longer in contact with the congregation. After attempts to establish contact have failed and a sufficient period of time has passed, the individual will be presented to the congregation for a vote of removal from the membership roll.
- Any member who concludes that he or she is not a Christian. Upon a verified account of an individual’s denial of personal faith and the individual’s rejection of the call to faith through the gospel, the individual will be presented to the congregation for a vote of removal from the membership roll. (1 John 2:19; 2 Corinthians 13:5)
4. Exclusion – In following the instruction in Holy Scripture, a congregation must exclude from gospel fellowship and from church membership those who refuse the correction and restoration offered in submitting to church discipline. See Section 7, Number 4 above. (Matthew 18:15-20; Romans 16:17-18; 1 Corinthians 5:2, 4-5, 11-13; Titus 3:10-11; Hebrews 13:17)