How To Join A Baptist Church
After accepting Christ as your savior the Bible tells us to associate ourselves with a local New Testament church (Hebrews 10:24-25). A Baptist church is a local assembly of baptized believers who have joined together to carry out Christ's work on earth. When one becomes a church member he is making a covenant with the other members of the church to do his best with God's help to live a Christian life and to cooperate with them to do the church's work.
Joining A Baptist Church
At the end of a congregational worship service, the preacher asks persons who want to make decisions to come forward. The preacher usually stands at the front of the church to receive those who make decisions.
When a candidate for membership comes forward, the preacher has him share his decision with him. He usually talks with him about it. This gives the candidate an opportunity to clarify the decision and gives the preacher a chance to answer any questions he may have. Information about the candidate is recorded for church records, including the kind of decision the candidate for membership is making.
At the close of the invitation the preacher usually asks him to stand at the front of the church. He announces his name and the type of decision to the congregation. In some churches the preacher asks the church members present to vote on your acceptance into the membership. In other churches, church members do not vote until a later service. This gives the preacher or a designated church committee time to counsel further with the candidate about his decision.
Three Ways A Baptist Church Accepts Members
There are three ways that most Baptist churches accept persons for membership.
First, a person may unite by profession of faith and become a candidate for baptism. This means that he has trusted Jesus as Savior, is now declaring himself openly as a believer and is asking for membership in the church. Baptism is immersion of a person by putting him under water. Baptism does not help a person be saved. However, Jesus told his followers to be baptized. It symbolizes the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. It is also a pictorial testimony of what has already taken place in the Christian life—death to his old life, its burial, and his resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. Church members vote to receive the candidate for membership as a candidate for baptism. After baptism, a person becomes a member of the church.
Second, a person may unite "by letter." This means that he is already a member of another Baptist church of like faith and order. When one requests membership this way, the church clerk writes the church where he is a member and requests a letter of recommendation. The candidate is not actually a member of the church until the letter of recommendation is received. However, many churches accept a person under the "watch care" of the church until the letter is received. Watch care means that the candidate is considered a part of the church fellowship and has the privileges and responsibilities given to a church member.
Third, a person may unite by statement. This means that he was once a Baptist but now is not a part of another Baptist church fellowship. There are many reasons why this occurs. Perhaps the church where a person joined is now disbanded. In some cases a person may have joined a church of another denomination and asked the Baptist church to drop his name from the roll. Most Baptist churches will accept a person's statement about former membership in another Baptist church. When this is the situation, one should present himself to the preacher and tell him that he is coming by statement. After church members vote to accept the candidate by statement, he is in full fellowship with the church.
If none of these ways describes your particular situation, and you wish to discuss your own needs with someone, ask the pastor to counsel with you privately. He is ready to talk with you and to help you understand how you may unite with the church.