How to Join

One can become a member at Shadowbrook by…

  1. Attending and completing the Discovering Shadowbrook class.
  2. Meeting with the Pastor or church leader to share how you came to trust and believe in Christ and ask any personal questions concerning the beliefs, practices and mission of Shadowbrook.
  3. Being baptized by immersion if you have not previously done so.
  4. Covenanting together with Shadowbrook in agreement with the joint responsibilities of church and church member as reflected in New Testament practices and beliefs.
  5. Being recognized and welcomed by the church with others who are ready to become members of Shadowbrook!

The last thing we desire is to make becoming a member of Shadowbrook a difficult, discouraging or complicated process. However, there are no specific instructions  described in the Bible for becoming a member of a local church, every church seems to have their own way of dealing with the matter. You can become a member in some churches simply by attending a few times, whereas in other churches, lengthy classes and interviews take place before one is accepted into membership. You could call our approach at Shadowbrook as “somewhere in the middle”.

To become a member of Shadowbrook, we ask each person to attend a Discovering Shadowbrook class.  This is intended to help prospective members discover more about the mission and methods of how we approach God’s call on our church. It also allows us to give Scriptural background to our beliefs and convictions that bind us together as a church body.

If one decides to pursue becoming a member after attending the class, they will schedule a time to meet with the Pastor or other church leader to ask any questions they may have about Shadowbrook or our beliefs. This will also give opportunity for us to learn a little more about your spiritual journey and how you came to trust Christ as your Savior. Sometimes, individuals or families have already met with the Pastor before attending the Discovering Shadowbrook class, and this is sufficient in meeting this requirement.

One of the final steps is to covenant in agreement with Shadowbrook to the responsibilities shared between the church and the church member as reflected in the Bible.  This is not meant to be a “list” of things “to do”, but rather, an attitude to be demonstrated. We believe that it is a great privilege and responsibility to be a part of a local body of believers and desire for all those who come to join Shadowbrook to receive God’s greatest blessings in their life in this community of believers!

At the end of the class, you will have opportunity to express your desire to be a part of the membership of Shadowbrook by signing a short covenant statement that reflects the material covered in the class.

Finally, because of the importance we believe God has placed on fellowship with a local church, we will present all of those who have completed the steps above together to the congregation in celebration of God’s grace and blessing upon us as a church! This will be a highlight that our church can anticipate as God brings new people to join us in God’s call to this community!


What Is The Biblical Basis Of Church Membership?

Although Scripture does not contain an explicit command to formally join a local church, the biblical foundation for church membership is seen throughout the New Testament. This biblical basis can be seen most clearly in (1) the example of the early church, (2) the existence of church government, (3) the exercise of church discipline, and (4) the instruction to do life with “one another”.

The Example of the Early Church

In the early church, coming to Christ was coming to the church. The idea of experiencing salvation without belonging to a local church is foreign to the New Testament. When individuals repented and believed in Christ, they were baptized and added to the church (Acts 2:41, 47; 5:14; 16:5). More than simply living out a private commitment to Christ, this meant joining together formally with other believers in a local assembly and devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayer (Acts 2:42). The epistles of the New Testament were written to churches. In the case of the few written to individuals—such as Philemon, Timothy and Titus—these individuals were leaders in churches. Thus, the New Testament epistles themselves demonstrate that the Lord assumed that believers would be committed to a local assembly of believers meeting and doing life together.

There is also evidence in the New Testament that just as there was a list of widows eligible for financial support (1 Timothy 5:9), there may also have been a list of members that grew as people were saved (Acts 2:41, 47; 5:14; 16:5). In fact, when a believer moved to another city, his church often wrote a letter of commendation to his new church (Acts 18:27; Romans 16:1; Colossians 4:10; 2 Corinthians 3:1-2).

In the book of Acts, much of the terminology fits only with the concept of formal church membership. Phrases such as “the whole congregation” (6:5), “the church in Jerusalem” (8:1), “the disciples” in Jerusalem (9:26), “in every church” (14:23), “the whole church” (15:17), and “the elders of the church” in Ephesus (20:17), all suggest recognizable church membership with well-defined boundaries.

The Existence of Church Government

The consistent pattern throughout the New Testament is that church leaders are to oversee each local body of believers. The specific duties given to these leaders presuppose a clearly defined group of church members who are under their care. Among other things, church leaders, specifically pastors and staff are responsible to shepherd God’s people (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2), to labor diligently among them (1 Thessalonians 5:12), to have charge over them (1 Thessalonians 5:12; 1 Timothy 5:17), and to keep watch over their souls (Hebrews 13:17). Scripture teaches that leaders will give an account to God for the individuals allotted to their charge (Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 5:3).

Those responsibilities require that there be a distinguishable, mutually understood membership in the local church. Pastors, staff and other church leaders can guide the people and be responsible to God for their spiritual growth and well-being only if they know who they are. They can provide oversight only if they know those for whom they are responsible. They can fulfill their duty to shepherd the flock only if they know who is part of the flock and who is not.

Conversely, Scripture teaches that believers are to submit to their leaders. Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey your leaders, and submit to them.” The question for each believer is, “Who are your leaders?” The one who has refused to join a local church and entrust himself to the care and the authority of leaders has no leaders. For that person, obedience to Hebrews 13:17 is impossible. To put it simply, this verse implies that every believer knows to whom he must submit, which, in turn, assumes clearly defined church membership.

The Exercise of Church Discipline

In Matthew 18:15-17, Jesus outlines the way the church is to seek the restoration of a believer who has fallen into sin—a four-step process commonly known as church discipline. When a brother sins, the first step is for him to be confronted privately by a single individual (v.15). If he refuses to repent, that individual is to take one or two other believers along to confront him again (v. 16). If the sinning brother refuses to listen to the two or three, they are then to tell it to the church (v. 17). If there is still no repentance, the final step is to put the person out of the assembly (v. 17; cf. 1 Cor. 5:1-13). The exercise of church discipline according to Matthew 18 and other passages (1 Corinthians 5:1-13; 1 Timothy 5:20; Titus 3:10-11) presupposes that the leaders of a church know who their members are. The Bible’s teaching on church discipline assumes church membership.

The Instruction of Life with “One Another”

The New Testament teaches that the church is the body of Christ, and that God has called every member to a life devoted to the growth of the body. In other words, Scripture calls all believers to edify the other members by practicing the “one-anothers” of the New Testament. There are more than 50 “one another” commands (e.g., Hebrews 10:24-25) and exercising their spiritual gifts (Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-7; 1 Peter 4:10). Mutual edification best takes place in the context of the corporate body of Christ. Exhortations to this kind of ministry presuppose that believers have committed themselves to other believers in a specific local assembly. Church membership is simply the formal way to make that commitment.

In many ways, New Testament church life is similar to life in a family. There are different roles and responsibilities shared by people who are joined together by love and common purpose. It is our desire to provide such a family for all who come and worship with us at Shadowbrook.

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