Different churches call the official joining of a local fellowship different things; the two of the most common that are used are partnership and membership. Both carry with them a requirement for the dreaded “C” word in today’s society—COMMITMENT.
Some would question why there is the need to become a member of a local church when they are already a member of the body of Christ having been born again of the Holy Spirit (John 3) – by coming to faith in Christ you are a member of the universal church. This cannot be argued against nor would it. However, when we talk about local church membership it is simply a sign of your commitment to the fellowship to which, through your consideration and prayer, God the Holy Spirit has led you, not to only attend but to play an active part in the extension of his kingdom through Encounter Church.
What We Believe
Our Responsibility to You
The leadership take very seriously the responsibility and authority that is entrusted to them by Jesus to lead this part of His church. The main aim of the elders is to lead and give direction to Encounter Church and all its activities.
INSTRUCTION: There is a great responsibility on the leaders to bring instruction in regards to spiritual matters. This does not mean that the elders tell you how to live or lord it over you in any way! There may however be times when you need to seek the advice of the elders. It will be their responsibility to advise and give wise counsel in accordance with the scriptures. It is also the elders who deal with matters of church discipline. The role of the elders is akin to that of a father to the church (which is described as a family) not as a dictator or master.
OVERSIGHT: The elders give oversight to the activities and direction of the church. This is a spiritual role in which the elders expect to be led by the Holy Spirit so as to enable us to partner with God in mission to the people of Birmingham and beyond.
EQUIPPING: The eldership is committed to training the people of Encounter Church for a life of godliness that pleases and glorifies God – so that as a community we may be effective in our mission to Birmingham.
PROTECTION: The elders are committed to the authority of scripture as God’s revelation. To that end the elders responsibility to you is to ensure that sound doctrine is taught.
FOLLOW: To be a church member you must be a follower of Jesus. Now this term can be misunderstood as many would put their religion down on official forms as “Christian”. However when we use this word we do not mean a loose affiliation to a church and sporadic church attendance. What we mean is that you have recognised that before God you are a sinner (Romans 3:23, Romans 6) and needed to be reconciled to God who wants to have fellowship with you as part of the human race that he created (Acts 2:38; Romans 5; 2 Corinthians 5:17,18; Colossians 1:19,20). Having recognised this you have put your faith and trust in Christ Jesus alone as the one, who through the shedding of his blood on the cross, provided a way through which you are forgiven and restored to relationship with God (Ephesians 1:7; 2:13; 1 Peter 1:17-19). Having done this you are now pursuing a growing intimacy with Jesus through the Holy Spirit and are committed to following Jesus and being obedient to his instructions for living all of life as a follower of him (John 14,15 to name a few).
GROW: We have an expectation that we desire growth in Christlikeness. This means having a commitment to whole life discipleship. The teaching of Jesus show that he has an expectation that you grow in character and bear fruit in keeping with salvation. It is easy to fall into the trap of just doing church and put on the Sunday best! Whether at church, at work at home or at play we would like you to see everything in terms of living the whole of life for the glory of God and as an opportunity to be shaped by him. It is a life long journey of transformation and maturing in Christ (Hebrew 6:1; 2 Peter 1:3-14).
SERVE: There is an expectation that you’ll serve according to your passions & strengths. Paul writes in Romans, 1 Corinthians, and Ephesians of the church as a body, using this metaphor to illustrate that we each have a part to ply in the church. We don’t all have the same gifts but we serve the same Lord. We are passionate about people serving meaningfully according to the gifting and grace that has been given you.
LOVE: The New Testament uses the phrase “one another” around 72 times. It therefore makes sense that the responsibilities of the members of Encounter Church are committed to one another, this is characterised by LOVE which is not self serving. Jesus said the world would know that we are his disciples because we love one another (John 13:31-35). We have a responsibility to love one another, encourage one another and at times rebuke (in love and always in the hope of restoration) one another. These are just a few of the instructions concerning “one another”. The way that this is made possible is obviously through what takes place on Sundays, but also by getting into a small group. It is through connecting with other people that we are able to live out what it is to be part of the Christian community.
GIVE: I do not want to concentrate only on monetary giving as it is important that you are also willing to give of your time when able and your abilities. What you give financially is between you and God. Giving of our finances to the local church, causes two things to happen; firstly, by giving, it frees you from the grip of possessions and self reliance and focuses your attention on God as the one who provides. Secondly, it enables us to worship God without holding back. Giving is not about God.“When God commands us to give it’s not because He wants your money. He wants your heart.” Many people set 10% of their income as a benchmark for their giving. If you are a UK tax payer we would want to encourage you to sign up to the gift aid scheme which enables us to claim 25p in the pound on any money you give to the church. This is at NO EXTRA cost to you. A standing order form is available if you wish to make use of this facility. Far from just wanting to maintain and “cover costs,” we want to see the finances of the church increase so that together we can do mission to Birmingham and beyond, seeing lives transformed by Jesus for his glory.