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9Marks Explained : A Letter From Mark Dever

What should be required of someone in order to join a church?

In order to join a local church someone should be:

  1. A Christian. Only someone who credibly professes faith in Christ should be a member of a Christian church.
  2. Baptized. Only those who have publicly identified with Christ and his church by baptism should be allowed to publicly identify with his church by membership.
  3. A regular attender. A church cannot oversee and affirm a person’s profession of faith if they do not regularly attend. Without attendance, membership is meaningless.
  4. Someone who confesses the same faith as the church and is willing to live as a Christian together with the church. A Christian should be able to affirm a church’s statement of faith and church covenant, if it has such documents.Only someone who agrees with the church’s stated beliefs and who intends to live a life marked by love for the members of that church should be allowed to join.
  5. Willing to submit to the leadership of the church. If a person isn’t willing to follow the church’s leaders he will inevitably stir up division and strife. It’s best for him to join a church whose leaders he can obey.  

The idea in all this not to be exclusive or to turn people away. The point in requiring all these things of prospective members is that the church is supposed to reflect God’s character to the world. When a church’s members are genuine, growing Christians, God’s glory is put on display and the gospel is commended to the world. It’s actually loving to require that church members be genuine Christians: it’s good for their own souls, it’s good for non-Christians, and it brings glory to God.