A Sample Template for Conducting a Membership Interview

Article
04.22.2016

Editor’s note: This could be used by churches as they interview prospective members before they join the church.

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Preliminaries

  • Introduce yourself briefly, along with anyone else in the room
    • You can be filling out the Date and Staff Attending Interview portions during this time
    • Explain the purpose of the interview: this is a chance for them to get to know one of the elders and for one of the elders to get to know them and their story.
    • If the interviewee seems nervous or to wonder about the others in the room, feel free to take the time to explain why the other men are there and to put them at ease. Be especially sensitive to this for women.
      • For some interviews you may need to ask questions to help ‘draw’ out their understanding. The goal is not to feed them the information, but to draw out what is already there.
    • Give a brief overview of the interview. There are four parts:
      1. Biographical information (Address, phone, spouse, children, etc…)
      2. Gospel presentation
      3. Miscellaneous information (small groups, etc…)
      4. Personal testimony
    • Pray for the person by name.

Biographical Information

  • Fill out basic biographical information
    • Get the full name, including middle name. Also ask and record how they want their name listed in the CHBC directory. Include pronunciation on the sheet if it’s not intuitive for you.
    • Don’t forget to ask for apartment numbers!
    • Don’t assume someone is single or has never had children. Make sure you ask, “Are you a married? Have you ever been married? Do you have any children?”
  • Ask them if they’d like to be on the password-protected map on our website of where members work. If so, check “yes” and get their workplace address. Cross-street is OK if they don’t know exactly. If they seem to think this is an odd thing to ask, explain this is only available to members and used to help encourage members connecting.
  • Fill out prior church membership and baptism information
    • Ask for the previous church of which they were a member or attending.
    • Ask if they have been “baptized as a believer, meaning after you became a Christian”, and if so, where and when.
      • The year of the baptism would suffice.
      • A good way to see if there might be any issues to discuss regarding the baptism would be to ask if the person was baptized in a church or by a church. If the answer is no to these, then you can explore the details further.
      • If someone has not been baptized as a Christian but is “happy to be” you need to explore that more with them. Are they merely submitting to our teaching in order to join the church? Or do they really agree with our statement of faith—which means that they no longer believe that their former “baptism” was a baptism since they did not have faith—and they now want to be baptized?
    • Fill out general CHBC information
      • Ask when they started attending CHBC and how they found out about us.
      • Ask when they attended Membership Matters and if they have any questions.
    • Fill out divorce information
      • If the person has been divorced, you will need to explore this further and take more notes. Some questions to consider:
        • How long ago was the divorce?
        • Why did you get divorced? The point here is to determine whether or not this was a biblical divorce.
        • Were you and your spouse Christians when you got divorced?
        • Have you tried to reconcile with your ex-spouse? Are they open to reconciliation?

Gospel Presentation

  • Ask the person to briefly share with you what the Gospel is
    • You’re basically looking for the four main points: God, man, Christ, response (repentance & faith)
    • Make sure they understand substitution
    • Following their presentation, feel free to ask questions that will clarify what they mean or draw out their understanding of certain things.
      • For example, if they’re shaky on repentance, you can ask: “What if someone claimed to believe in all that, but continued to live in sin?”
    • If needed, ask, “And you believe this to be true for you?”
  • If this person seems to give a credible profession of his faith, then you can continue with the membership interview.
    • For those who are not strong on their understanding of the Gospel, you should ask them if they’d like to study one of the gospels with a member of the church. The PA can help set this up for you. You don’t generally want to say this as if they’ve failed your exam—but to help them grow. Sometimes you’re really not sure if they are a Christian, and you are using this study, say of Christianity Explained, to flesh that out more fully. In those cases, I generally try to get this set up quickly so that they can get through at least the first three sessions before the members meeting. Then I’ll check in with the person doing the study with them to see if he/she believes the individual to be converted.
    • However, if you don’t think this person is a Christian, at this point you would end the interview and suggest they go through Christianity Explained. Once they have gone through the class and have come to understand themselves to believe the Gospel, you can re-schedule and continue the interview.
    • Check off whether this person understands the Gospel or not, and include any important notes.

Personal Testimony

  • Ask the person to walk through how they became a Christian. Will likely include (but is not limited to):
    • Where they were born and grew up
    • Family background
    • Church background
    • Life pre-conversion
    • Conversion
    • Life post-conversion
    • Where they went to school
    • Where this person has been since finishing school (jobs, cities, etc…)
    • Marriage, family
    • How they got to DC
  • The main goal here is to understand how this person became a Christian, and how they’ve given evidence of following Christ since then. This is not merely their life’s history. You may need to firmly lead more loquacious persons with specific questions to concisely cover most of the points listed above.

Miscellaneous Information

  • Ask if they’re interested in a small group and what kind of group (men’s, women’s, community, young married [which is only for young married couples]).
    • Not required, but a great way to get connected with other Christians during the week and be encouraged.
    • Ask what night of the week would work best for them.
    • Mention that someone will get in touch with them after they become a member to work out specific small group placements and details.
  • Ask if they’re interested in 1-on-1 discipleship
    • Explain that we don’t actually intend to assign them someone. Instead, we have tried to create a church culture where it’s normal for members to spend time together primarily to encourage one-another spiritually. So that in our church culture, it’s perfectly normal to walk up to someone you hardly know and say, “hey—I noticed that we work two blocks apart. Would you be interested in getting together for lunch once a week to study through Ephesians?” Make use of the directory and the workplace map to find people near you. Encourage them that they don’t need anyone’s permission to do this. Second, point out that if that doesn’t happen quickly, then if they get into a small group their group leader may be able to help them connect with someone to meet up with. And lastly, because you just checked this box saying they’re interested, one of the church staff will e-mail them in about six months to see if you’ve found someone. If they haven’t, we will be happy to help them connect with someone.
    • Make sure they get a copy of the article “Encouraging One-on-one Discipling Relationships at CHBC.” It should be part of the stack of stuff to give them at the end of the interview.
  • Ask if they’ve attended Wed. Evening Service and what they thought of it.
    • Wednesday Evening Service is not required, but we do encourage people to make it if they can.
    • If they’ve never been to Wed. Evening Service, encourage them to come at least once and see whether this would be a good fit for them.
  • Ask if they’ve attended Sunday Evening Service and what they thought of it.
    • Let them know that regular Sunday Evening Service attendance is expected for all members and explain why.
    • It’s good to actually ask, “So will you plan to come on Sunday nights?” We want to draw out a verbal commitment from them, and root out any excuses that might not be valid.
  • Ask if they’ve attended Sunday Morning Service and what they thought of it.
    • Obviously, regular attendance is required for members.
  • Ask if they’ve read What is a Healthy Church?
    • This is how the elders intend to lead the church.
    • If they haven’t read it, ask that they read it and email you once they do with any thoughts or comments or questions. I normally give them a soft deadline. As in, “can you read it before the end of the week?” And I give them my e-mail so they can send me questions.
  • Ask them if they’ve read the Baptist Faith and Message and if they have any questions or concerns. I describe this as a “truth in advertising” campaign to make certain implications of our statement of faith clear. For example, our statement of faith says nothing about opposition to gay marriage since no one had thought of it back in 1878. Same on male leadership in the church. Do they have any concerns about those two beliefs? If they haven’t read the BFM, please tell them to read it that day and get back to you if they have any questions or concerns.
  • Ask if they‘ve been disciplined (excommunicated) by a church before.
    • If so, you will need to explore this further.
  • Ask if they would be willing to sign the Statement of Faith and Church Covenant.
    • Ask if they have any questions about it (it hasn’t changed since they studied it in Membership Matters)
    • Make sure they sign and print their name and date it.
    • Make sure you sign and date it, too (as a witness to their signing it).

Wrap Up & Five Expectations

  • Explain what happens next:
    • Application will go before the elders, then they will make a recommendation to the membership.
    • Application form doesn’t go to all the members, this is important to mention if any personal or sensitive information came out in the interview – divorce, sin struggles, etc.
    • Someone from the office will contact them after the next members’ meeting.
  • Five basic expectations for new members:
  1. Attend regularly
    • We expect our members are here both Sunday morning and Sunday evening
    • Encourage them to see this as their primary ministry for the first few months: being here regularly, getting to know people, and letting others get to know them
  2. Attend Lord’s Supper
    • 1st Sunday of the month, usually in the Sunday evening service.
    • Use this as a spiritual checkup for your life and your relationships.
  3. Attend Members’ Meeting
    • 3rd Sunday of the month, every other month, after the evening service. Bring a snack!
    • They don’t come at the next meeting—but would come for meetings after they become a member.
    • You can give a brief explanation of members’ meetings, if there’s time.
  4. Give faithfully
    • The NT doesn’t command a percentage, but for many people 10% is a good place to start, and increase from there as the Lord enables you.
  5. Pray regularly for the church
    • Encourage them to pray regularly for others, and one way to do that is by praying through the membership directory.
    • Give them a directory before they leave, or if there aren’t any out, then let them know they can pick one up at the church office on Sundays.
  • Any questions?
  • Pray