We invite those who make Hamilton Central Baptist Church their spiritual home to express their commitment by becoming formal members of our church. This is not an onerous ordeal, and lasts only as long as people believe we are to be their spiritual home.
As might be expected, formal membership in our church is available to those who regard themselves as committed followers of Jesus. We are all at different stages in our spiritual journey, and membership is not a sign or badge of achievement in our efforts to be a Christian, but it obviously is only for those who have declared that they want Jesus Christ to be their Lord and Saviour.
The process of becoming a member of our church is relatively simple:
In a Baptist church there is no such thing as joining a denomination (as might be the case with other national churches); we’re simply a local church to which people connect. So, don’t think that becoming a member of our church makes you a “Baptist” – you can be (or not be!) whatever you like. In fact, these days Baptist churches around New Zealand are made up of people from a wide and diverse background and church experience.
Some people wonder whether the whole concept of church membership is relevant or appropriate. We certainly don’t make a big deal about it, and our practice is to love and accept whomever God sends our way irrespective of whether they formally become members or not. Obviously, there are certain leadership functions (like being on staff or in eldership) that are only open to those who make this fundamental commitment, along with the right to vote at church members’ meetings.
We also believe the concept of commitment to a local church community is well grounded on biblical principles of mutual belonging, accountability, pastoral support and service. While the Christian church is supposed to be a living organism, it’s also described in the Bible as a community that is organised. True relationship with Jesus leads us into committed partnership with others who are also seeking to follow Jesus. Indeed, perhaps the better question to ask than: “Why is membership important?” is: “Why would a person not want to make these basic commitments to their local church?”
You’ve probably already discovered that our church is not perfect – in the sense that we have it all together and no room for improvement! Thankfully, God loves us and continues to work with us as we seek to order our affairs according to his purpose. There are lots of areas where we need to do more and better, and it might just be that God is adding you to our midst so that we can improve.
The process for becoming a member of HCBC is relatively straight forward:
- A person makes a request to become a member (perhaps to one of the Pastors or Elders, or by contacting the church office).
- Their name is published for two Sundays in our weekly bulletin as a point of information.
- The processing of membership applications is handled by the Elders, who typically appoint one of their number to visit applicants and introduce more of the church and how you can get involved.
- Having reported back to the Elders, and upon their agreement, a time of formal welcome is arranged in a church service.
You’ll possibly have gathered that as a Baptist Church we have a particular conviction around believer’s baptism, and usually by immersion. There is an historical relationship between baptism and church membership in the journey of a new Christian whereby baptism has been seen as a sign of spiritual conversion in the life of a new believer. In most instances, those who become members of our church look back to the point at which they confessed their faith in Jesus Christ through the process of believer’s baptism. This would be our normal pattern. However, in the church of today there are varied teachings and practices as to the nature and timing of baptism. While we are clear in what we teach within the context of our church, we also love and respect those who have sincere convictions that vary. To this end our Constitution allows for the Elders to use discretion in accepting as members those believers in good standing who have not been baptised by immersion, but who testify to an unequivocal faith in Jesus Christ by other means. Current and active faith in God is what we are most looking for, rather than legalism and ceremony.
As is the case in most churches, our affairs are governed by an agreed upon Constitution (which is available on request). We prefer to think of the Bible as our authority in what we believe and how we conduct ourselves, but our Constitution gives a little more specific definition to how we make decisions. Those becoming members of our church are encouraged to read through this document carefully. You’ll also note that within the Constitution there is a simple Membership Commitment that defines a member’s commitment . . . for as long as s/he believes that we are a faith community where God would have them.
If you’d like to apply to become a member of our church (. . . and we’d love to have you!), or simply want to discuss more about what it entails, contact one of the Pastors or the Church office (E: firstname.lastname@example.org; Ph: 07 838 0375 ext. 200), and we’ll get the process under-way.