christ is king and we follow him together
From a modern perspective, membership doesn't make a whole lot of sense. We really value our freedom and feel like life is best when we aren't tied down by anything or anyone. Membership sounds like more meetings and commitments to things we can't fit in.
We don't like the idea of hierarchy or exclusive clubs. We want the church to be an inclusive place for all people while membership seems to set up a divide between normal people and 'super Christians'.
We like it when things are efficient, where we can make decisions and move quickly. Membership reminds us of late nights where everyone had to agree on the colour of the carpet.
It's no wonder that many churches have moved away from the idea.
A Prophetic Act
Despite all of this, or perhaps even because of it, we believe that membership is a prophetic way to embody the kingdom of heaven in our world. Becoming a member flies in the face of the consumerist nature of our time. Membership says we’re committed to each other no matter what, that we’re better together, that deep individual and corporate growth happens when we intentionally choose to hang in there with each other and allow Jesus to grow our character and deepen our relationships .
At its core, it represents the coming together of two relational promises or covenants
We believe that God has moved heaven and earth to bring us back to Himself. Through Jesus we are brought into God’s family. We become sons and daughters of God, and nothing we do, will ever change that.
God and Humanity
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Us with One Another
This is where early Baptists took an extra step. They believed that we only fully experience the liberating rule of Jesus in a local committed community. So, we bind ourselves to one another as we are bound to Jesus. This forms the basis of membership.
Us With One Another
We try to take Jesus seriously when He said, "Wherever two or three are gathered, there I am also."So as we come together as committed members, these two covenants come together and we know Jesus Himself will be with us.
And if Jesus is with us, it changes everything. Every other leader and structure is levelled as we follow Him.
A New Old Way To Be The Church
What sets Baptists apart is the way we follow Jesus. Rather than waiting for the pastor to come down from the mountaintop to share their vision, rather than waiting for a board of elders to tell us what God is saying,
we believe that we hear Jesus as the community of members gather to pray.
Jesus speaks to us, but not necessarily from the microphone at the front, but from the voices of the community as we gather together to pray. This doesn’t necessarily mean it's from a majority vote either, as Baptists we believe that Jesus’ voice is often found in the minority; from the fringes.
It's not a democracy, but a Christocracy
This process means that there will be questions, disagreement and conflict. But disagreement doesn’t mean disloyalty, and conflict isn't always bad. We think that they are key ways that we become more like Jesus. This process is also slower and less efficient than other ways of leading. It takes time to listen well, and it's a risk to pass around the microphone. But we don't remember many promises in the Bible where we are told that the Gospel was meant to be efficient.
Membership is more inefficient, but perhaps it's more faithful too.
What it means to be a member at GSB
To be a member doesn’t mean you have to be a ‘super Christian’. You don’t have to have perfect theology or live a perfect life. To become a member of our community only requires a commitment to a journey. To walk with God and to walk with us. So for everyone who wants to be a member of our church, we have these promises that we make.
If you feel called to join us on this journey, this is all we ask. Walk with us as we walk with Jesus.
So if you're interested in being a member, click the link below and someone will be in touch with you soon. If you have any more questions, have a look at our resources and FAQ below.
Will you walk in the ways of Jesus, those made known and those yet to be made known?
Will you walk with this community, watching over one another with love?
What happens if I say I want to become a member?
First, someone from the leadership of the church will get in touch. We'll have a chat to make sure you understand how membership works at GSB and are comfortable with everything. Then if you want to go forward, we'll plan a Sunday coming up where we can welcome you in. This will be a simple moment in the service where we introduce you, we'll go through the covenant promises together as you make them to us and we make them to you, then we pray for you. Easy.
What if I've been a member of another church?
If you've been a member of another Baptist church, then we can easily get that transferred. Just let us know where it was, and we can get in touch with them and handle the admin stuff. From there the process will be similar to welcoming in a new member.
If I become a member, does that mean I have to give money?
Absolutely not. Membership is about a relationship. About being rooted in a community that will love and support you as you bring yourself and shape us. We want you to be a valuable part of our community, whether you can donate or not.
If I sign up, does that mean I'm signed up for life?
Of course not. We know that there is a time and place for everything. Sometimes we get to stay, other times we are called to leave. Membership doesn't mean you aren't allowed to go. It means that when you go, we'd love to know so that we can pray for you, and send you out as best we can for whatever comes next.
You talked about hearing God together, does that mean everyone has to be there for every decision?
Not quite. One of the problems with the way Baptist Churches did this in the past, is that they tried to get everyone doing everything all the time. You might even remember an old membership meeting where the whole church argued over what colour the new carpet should be. That's not what we are going for.
Our time together is too valuable to be spent talking about the small stuff. For those things, like carpets, design, toilets, etc., we'll get someone who is good at it to get it done. But the big things? Things like what is God calling us to this next year, what should we build on our land, where should we invest our resources, those things need to be talked about together.
Is there any point having a Pastor or Elders if we're doing those things together?
Absolutely. Leadership's job is to steward our conversations. It's the leaders that need to be deciding which things need to be brought to the community. And once we have listened together, it's the leader's job to take what was said and look for the thread of the Spirit amongst it. It is the leaders that need to make sure we have the conversation in a way that honours God amongst us and makes sure He can speak through those on the margins. In many ways, leaders will have a more crucial role now than ever.