The ancient understanding of the church was not an event that you attended; it was a community you belonged to. At Grace we seek to honor that original intent. That's why we emphasize the importance not just of worshiping with us, but also joining the church. How do you become a member? What is expected of you when you join? Here are answers to those questions and more.
Do I have to agree 100% to become a member of Grace?
Grace welcomes everyone to worship with us. Our hope is that, no matter where you’ve come from, being a part of this community will draw you closer to Christ.
You do not have to agree with everything in the Westminster Standards to become a member. So what do you have to believe?
- That you are a sinner without hope of salvation apart from grace.
- That Jesus Christ is your savior, the only source of grace.
- That as a believer, you are called to live like Christ to the best of your ability.
- That you are called to support the church in its worship and work.
- That, under the guidance of the elders, you will strive for purity and peace.
In other words, all that is required is that you believe in Jesus Christ and be willing to enter fully into the community he has established, the church.
If you have not yet been baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, you will receive this sign of God’s covenant promise when you are admitted to membership.
At what point would I need to agree with Grace’s doctrinal standards?
All of our elders and deacons are in agreement with the Westminster Standards, and we aim for substantial agreement among everyone in leadership positions, too—especially those related to teaching. This helps ensure that the depths of Scripture and the Reformation are front and center in Grace’s teaching ministry.
How do I become a member of the church?
The membership process consists of three steps:
- Preliminary Conversation with Pastor
If you would like to become a member of Grace, contact the pastor to schedule a preliminary conversation. During this meeting, we will talk through the membership process, giving you a chance to ask any questions you may have. The pastor will walk you through the five membership vows.
- Interview with the Elders
Before making a public profession of faith, you will meet with the elders of Grace to share your Christian testimony and confirm your agreement with the membership vows.
- Public Profession of Faith
During a Sunday morning worship service, you will come forward and publicly affirm your membership vows before the congregation.
Completing a new members class is not a requirement, but we encourage you to participate in one when it is offered.
Why are membership vows so important?
The Church is a covenant community, and in the Bible, covenants are ratified with vows. Grace is more than a social group for like-minded people. It is part of the body of Christ. Everybody talks about community these days … but this kind of community is different.
When Jesus established his Church, he organized it a certain way. Elders were called to govern and guide. Everyone was called to serve one another. Accountability and service are both essential to real community.
The five membership vows constitute (a) a public profession of your Christian faith, (b) a commitment to actively participate in the life of the Grace community, and (c) a willingness to be guided by Grace’s elders.
How should I prepare for my vows?
The Westminster Confession provides insight on this question:
“Whosoever takes an oath ought duly to consider the weightiness of so solemn an act, and therein to avouch nothing but what he is fully persuaded is the truth: neither may any man bind himself by oath to any thing but what is good and just, and what he believes so to be, and what he is able and resolved to perform.” (22.3)
As you prepare to take membership vows, consider the commitments and whether you truly intend to fulfill them to the best of your ability.
How should I think about my vows?
Again, the Westminster Confession teaches:
“[A vow] is not to be made to any creature, but to God alone: and that it may be accepted, it is to be made voluntarily, out of faith, and conscience of duty, in way of thankfulness for mercy received, or for the obtaining of what we want, whereby we more strictly bind ourselves to necessary duties: or, to other things, so far and so long as they may fitly conduce thereunto.” (22.6)
You are affirming vows before the church, but you are making them to God. You are voluntarily binding yourself to Christ’s body out of gratitude for his mercy.
What are the membership vows?
Here are the five membership vows. The bold text gives the official wording, and the text below it gives a summary.
Do you acknowledge yourselves to be sinners in the sight of God, justly deserving his displeasure, and without hope save in his sovereign mercy?
In the first vow, you acknowledge that you are a sinner, and that because of this, your only hope of salvation is found in God’s mercy.
Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and Savior of sinners, and do you receive and rest upon him alone for salvation as he is offered in the Gospel?
You profess your faith in Jesus Christ in the second vow, making clear the fact that you are relying on Christ alone for your salvation.
Do you now resolve and promise, in humble reliance upon the grace of the Holy Spirit, that you will endeavor to live as becomes the followers of Christ?
Now that you have professed faith in Christ, in the third vow you resolve to live as one of his followers with the aid of the Holy Spirit.
Do you promise to support the Church in its worship and work to the best of your ability?
In the fourth vow you undertake to participate in the community of faith that is the church, both in its worship and in the work it does (i.e., service).
Do you submit yourselves to the government and discipline of the Church, and promise to study its purity and peace?
Finally, in the fifth vow, you also place yourself under the authority and discipline of the church, committing to strive for sound doctrine and also to live at peace within the faith community.