I have a high view of church membership. The book of Romans refers to followers of Christ being members of a body. I believe it to be a helpful way in which we can encourage one another and hold each other accountable.
At my church, we emphasize two key areas with church membership. The first is doctrine. The second is expectations. We ask members to work towards fulfilling seven expectations, which is also our church covenant. The seven expectations involve worship, growing, serving, giving, praying, seeking unity, and being sacrificial.
Agreeing on doctrine is the starting point. Doctrine lets people know upfront what you believe. You can no longer assume people understand historical denominational differences. Additionally, churches within the same denomination in the same town can be quite different now. Don’t surprise people. Don’t downplay doctrine. Don’t confuse people. Be clear about what you believe and who you are.
A statement of faith reveals the doctrine of the church. Our church asks members to be in general agreement with our statement of faith. Understandably, people might word things differently. Additionally, as the lead pastor and main teacher in the church, I also realize people will not agree with everything I preach. Expecting all people to agree with everything is more cult-like than Christ-like. However, we must have parameters of belief. Otherwise, the church will break under the stress of disunity.
Our statement of faith includes only the most important non-negotiables. All other doctrines outside this statement of faith are not to be tests of fellowship. For example, our members may have differing views on eschatology or some issues within soteriology and still be considered like-minded members.
Readers of this blog likely have widely different views on doctrine. I’m thankful for those of you who are different than me! My goal in providing an example of a statement of faith is not to stir up theological controversy. Rather, my goal is simply to provide a practical starting point for those who might be crafting a statement of faith for their churches.
I’ve provided our statement of faith as an example. You may “borrow” any or all portions if you like.
We believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old Testament and New Testament are the inerrant, inspired, and infallible Word of God. God’s Word is the final authority for faith and life.
We believe there is only one God, and He has chosen to reveal Himself as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
We believe man was created in the image of God and the sin of Adam (the first man) marred that image, creating an eternal divide between God and man. Every person is born in sin.
We believe the only way a person can have a true, forgiven relationship with God is through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary and conceived by the Holy Spirit. Jesus became man without ceasing to be God. Our right standing with God is made sure because of His literal, physical resurrection.
We believe in the literal, physical return of Jesus to judge the living and the dead.
We believe God offers eternal life as a free gift and that it must be received by faith alone through God’s grace alone. The life that comes from this gift is a permanent possession of the one receiving it.
We believe the church of the Lord Jesus Christ is a local body of believers on mission to enlarge God’s kingdom. The local church is autonomous, free of any external authority of control.
We believe believer’s baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the two ordinances of the church.
This article originally appeared here.