Section 1: Requirements for Membership
Any person shall be eligible for membership in this church, who professes repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 2:37 42; 5:14; 8:12), who manifests a life transformed by the power of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:1-2; 6:11), who has been scripturally baptized upon profession of faith (Matthew 18:18 20), who expresses substantial agreement with the Confession and Constitution of this church (1 Corinthians 14:40), who intends to give whole hearted support to its ministry (Ephesians 4:30), and who is willing to submit to its government and discipline (1 Corinthians 1: 10; Hebrews 13:17).
Section 2: Types of Membership
Each member of the church is acknowledged to form a vital part of the body and to have a special function in the life of that body (1 Corinthians 12:14). Practical considerations, however, require that certain distinctions be recognized in the membership of this church.
Paragraph A: Regular members
All who are received into the membership of the church according to the procedures set forth in Section 3 of this Article, who continue in the duties set forth in Section 4 of this Article, and who do not come under corrective discipline of the church as set forth in Article VI, shall be considered regular members in good standing and entitled to all the rights and privileges of membership in the church (Acts 2:37 47).
Paragraph B: Temporary Members
Persons who come to live in our area for a limited period of time (such as students, military personnel, persons on special work assignments) may be received into or removed from the membership of the church on the same basis and in the same manner as persons having permanent residence in our geographical area. If such a person is already a member of a church in his place of permanent residence, he need not be released from the membership of his “home church” but will be regarded as a temporary member while in our midst, enjoying all the rights and privileges and subject to all the liabilities and discipline of regular membership. When such a person terminates his period of temporary residence as a member in good standing, he will be released to the fellowship of his “home church” and no longer be regarded as a member of this church (Acts 18:27; Romans 16:1, 2).
Paragraph C: Associate members
Regular members who move away from our area may, at their request, be retained as associate members of this church until they join themselves to another church, or a period of six months elapses, whichever occurs first. In unusual cases associate membership may be retained for longer periods of time by special arrangement with the elders, provided regular communication with the church is maintained. At the discretion of the elders, associate membership may also be granted to invalids, Christian workers, and others whose relationship to the church involves unusual circumstances. An associate member shall enjoy the privileges of pastoral oversight and church fellowship, and be subject to the discipline of the church. An associate member shall not be permitted to vote in any business meeting of the church, nor to hold any elected position in the church.
Section 3: Procedures in the Reception of New Members
Paragraph A: Application for Membership
A person who desires to become a member of the church shall formally express that desire by submitting, to the elders, a completed membership application form, part of which shall include a written testimony of his confession of faith in Christ, and a statement indicating his substantial agreement with both the 1689 Confession of Faith and the Constitution of Dallas Reformed Baptist Church (Acts 9:26).
Paragraph B: Initial Elder Review (Mandatory)
Upon reception of the application for membership, the elders will make a determination as to whether to continue, postpone, terminate, or expedite the process of application. In the case where an applicant is, or has been a member of another church, special effort will be made to determine his present or former standing in that church and identify his reasons for leaving (Acts 15:2). If the elders of an applicant’s former church raise an objection which the elders of DRBC deem valid, the application process will be either postponed or terminated (Acts 20:28; 1 John 4: 1). If the elders discover that the applicant enjoys a good standing in his former church, they may expedite the membership application process (Acts 9.27; Romans 16: 1; Colossians 4: 10).
Paragraph C: Congregational Scrutiny
If the elders choose to receive an application for membership, they shall, for two consecutive Lord’s Days, inform the congregation of their decision to do so and announce the precise date and time that a public testimony of the applicant’s faith in Christ and his agreement with the 1689 Confession of Faith and the Constitution of the Church will be given to the congregation. Following, the giving of the applicant’s public testimony (Ephesians 4:29; 1 Corinthians 14:26; Ephesians 4:3; 1 Cor 1:10). The elders will give the congregation no less than one month and no more than six months to, in Christian charity and through biblical wisdom assess the applicant’s manner of life and doctrine, and bring any questions, concerns, objections, or words of encouragement about the applicant to the elders, privately (Acts 9:26-27; 2 Corinthians 11:4; Galatians 1:6-9; 1 John 4:1). The elders will carefully investigate any questions, concerns, or objections with regard to the applicant’s manner of life or doctrine (Acts 9:26; 1 John 4: 1), and if such prove to be legitimate, they will either terminate or postpone the application process. (Acts 20:28; 1 John 4:10)
Paragraph D: Elder Scrutiny and Membership Reception
If at the end of the time allotted for congregational assessment of the applicant’s life and doctrine, no questions, concerns, or objections have been raised which have given the elders sufficient reason to postpone or terminate the application process, they will privately interview the applicant to make a final determination as to whether he has a credible profession of faith in Christ, has been scripturally baptized, is in substantial agreement with the Confession and Constitution of the Church, is capable of assuming the responsibilities and liabilities of church membership, intends to give wholehearted support to its ministry, and is willing to submit to its government and its discipline. If the elders are satisfied that the applicant meets the requirements for membership, they shall, for at least two consecutive Lord’s Days, announce the same to the membership as well as the precise date and time that the applicant will be formally received into the membership. If, during the interim period between the elders’ announcement and the date the applicant is to be formally received into the membership, there are questions, concerns, or objections raised concerning the applicant’s fitness for membership which the elders deem valid, then they may either postpone the applicant’s reception into the membership or terminate the application process altogether (Acts 20:28; 1 John 4:1). If, however, no questions, concerns, or objections are raised during this interim period that the elders, deem valid, then membership and all the privileges thereunto will be publicly extended to the applicant (Acts 9:27-28).
Section 4: Conduct Required of Members
Paragraph A: Attendance at Stated Meetings
All regular members and temporary members are required to attend all stated meetings of the church unless providentially hindered (by illness, accident, unusual working conditions, and other such circumstances). The stated meetings of the church are all the Lord’s Day (Sunday School, morning and evening worship, and the Lord’s Supper), the midweek prayer service, the business meetings of the congregation, and any special meetings which the elders shall occasionally deem it necessary to call (Acts 2:42; Hebrews 10:24-25). The members are strongly urged to engage themselves in due preparation of heart prior to meetings and to make every effort to be punctual in attendance (Isaiah 1:10 17; Matthew 7:12; 15:8; 1 Corinthians 14:40).
Paragraph B: Financial Support
Scripture clearly teaches that Christians should financially support the work of the Lord by systematic, proportionate giving through the local church (Malachi 3:8 10; 1 Corinthians 16:1; 2:11 Corinthians 8 and 9). The members of this church are expected to conform to this rule of Scripture. Members will not be considered as fulfilling their duty in this matter by giving to other causes. This is not meant to forbid such giving, and it is acknowledged that personal acts of benevolence need not be conducted through the church (Hebrews 13:16). However, financial giving to this church should be expressive of one’s level of commitment as a member of this assembly, in view of a Christian’s responsibility to support the work of the ministry and the work of the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:13,14; Galatians 6:6). The tithe is not imposed upon God’s people as a tax, but is strongly urged upon each member as a general guide for basic giving and as an expression of worship. To this should be added gifts and offerings according to one’s ability and the willingness of his heart (Exodus 36:2 7; 2 Corinthians 8:1 5,12; 9:7).
Paragraph C: Promotion of Edification and Peace
Inasmuch as the church is represented in Scripture as a body having many members, each of the members having its particular function and yet having concern for the health and protection of the whole (1 Corinthians 12:12 27; Ephesians 4:4, 11 16), the members of this church must strive for the good of the entire body. Members must prayerfully seek to discover their gifts and talents and exercise them appropriately (Romans 12:3 8). We must also seek to cultivate acquaintance with one another and maintain mutual transparency and honesty so that we may be better able to pray for one another; love, comfort, and encourage one another; and help one another materially as necessity may require (Galatians 6:10; Ephesians 4:25; 1 John 3:16 18). In addition, we must discreetly confess our faults to one another (James 5:16), faithfully admonish and encourage one another (Matthew 18:15; 1 Thessalonians 5:14; Hebrews 3:12-13; 10:24-25), and refrain from all backbiting and gossip (Psalm 153; Proverbs 16:28; 26:20 22). In pursuit of the peace and well being of the church, the elders may determine that some matters of congregational business are so sensitive that the members will be expected to keep such matters confidential and not to discuss them with persons outside this assembly (Proverbs 11:13).
Paragraph D: Support of and Submission to Leadership
Members are expected to support and submit to the overseers of the church. Supporting God’s servants necessitates praying for them and their labors (Ephesians 6:18-19), cultivating personal acquaintance with them, loving them, and esteeming them highly for their work’s sake (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13), standing by them and not forsaking them in their afflictions and in all their good causes (2 Timothy 1:15), and defending rather than prejudicing or damaging their good name (Acts 23:5; 1 Timothy 5:19). Submitting to God’s servants necessitates imitating their Christian graces, faith, and godly principles as they also imitate Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1; Hebrews 13:7; 1 Peter 5:3); receiving their teaching with all readiness of mind and teachableness of spirit, yet with ultimate allegiance to the Word of God (Acts 17:11; James 1:19 2 1; 1 Thessalonians 2:13); humbly heeding their Scriptural rebukes and warnings as from those appointed to watch for our souls and committed to present us complete and mature in Christ (Colossians 1:28; Hebrews 13:17); seeking and carefully considering their counsel as from those counted faithful by the Lord (I Corinthians 7:1,25); and cheerfully embracing and abiding by their decisions regarding corporate policy in God’s house, which is His church (I Timothy 3:5,15; Hebrews 13:17), without gainsaying, even when personally differing with their judgment (Romans 10:2 1; Jude 8 10).
Paragraph E: A Godly Christian Life
All who come into the membership of this church are expected to walk worthily of the Lord, that His Name be not blasphemed but rather His excellencies be displayed through us, and that the good name of the church be not damaged but rather enhanced. Therefore, every member is expected to cultivate godliness in the following areas:
1. Personal Devotions
Each member is expected to walk personally with the Lord, making use of all the private means of grace available to him, including daily and habitual secret prayer (Psalm 55:17; 88:9; Daniel 6:10; Matthew 6:5 11; Colossians 4:2), daily and habitual reading and meditating on God’s Word (Psalm 1:2; 119:11,97), continual maintenance of a good conscience with judgment day honesty (Acts 24:16; 1 Timothy 1: 19; Hebrews 10:22; 13:18), periodic and wholesome self examination, prayerfully conducted by the standard of God’s Word (Psalm 13 9:23-24; 11 Corinthians 13:5; 11 Peter 1:10-11; 1 John 5:13), and careful and spiritual observance of the Lord’s Day (Genesis 2:1 3; Exodus 20:8 11; Isaiah 58:13,14; Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2; Revelation 1:10).
2. Family Life
The church expects its members to obey the teachings of the Scriptures with respect to family life and government of the home. As the God appointed head of the family, the husband must rule over the household with gentleness and love, but also wisdom and firmness (Ephesians 5:22; 1 Timothy 3:4-5). The wife must also be in subjection to her husband in all things according to the rule of Scripture (Ephesians 5:22 24; 1 Peter 3: 1). The husband with the wife must nurture their children in the chastening and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:2), by setting a godly example before them, by leading them in family worship, by instructing them consistently in the Scriptures (Genesis 18:19; Deuteronomy 6:7), by praying for them (1 Chronicles 29:19), and by wise and firm discipline, including corporal punishment when it is needed (Proverbs 13:24; 22:15; 29:15; Hebrews 12:7).
3. Personal Evangelism
Not all Christians have the same God given ability to communicate the Gospel (1 Corinthians 12:4 7, 11, 14 20, 27 30), nor the same opportunity (Acts 4:33). At the same time, evangelism is not restricted to experts or professionals (Acts 11:19; 11 Corinthians 4:13). All Christians should be deeply concerned for the glory of God, the eternal welfare of lost men, and the prosperity of the church (Psalm 90:16-17; Matthew 10:32-33; Romans 9:1 3; Ephesians 3:20-21). Therefore, members are expected to pray for the extension of the Kingdom of God throughout the entire world (Ephesians 6:18 20; 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2; 1 Timothy 2:1 8), and to seek to recognize and seize every opportunity to bear witness to his faith in Christ both by consistent Christian conduct and by the testimony of the lips (Romans 1: 16-17; Philippians 2:14 16; 1 Peter 3:14 16).
4. Christian Liberty
Each member of the church is required to render in his daily life loyal obedience to all the moral precepts established by the Word of God (Romans 8:3-4). If God has not condemned or forbidden a practice in His Word, a Christian is at liberty to participate in it. The exercise of Christian liberty, however, must at all times be governed by an earnest desire to walk in the fear of God and to glorify Him in all things (1 Corinthians 10:3 1; 1 Peter 1: 17), a loving regard for the consciences of weaker brethren (Romans 15:1 3; 1 Corinthians 8:9), a compassion for the lost (1 Corinthians 9:19 22), and a zealous regard for the health of one’s own soul (Romans 13:14; 1 Peter 2:16).
5. Separation from the World
God never intended the glorious blessing of Christian liberty which we enjoy to become an excuse and covering for worldliness (Galatians 5:13; 1 Peter 2:16). To the contrary, we have been liberated from the bondage to our former sins in order that we might be a people distinct from this wicked world and set apart to God (Leviticus 18:1 30; Titus 2:11 14; 1 Peter 1: 14,15). Accordingly, we are commanded to detest rather than love godless society (Proverbs 1: 10 19; Romans 12:1,2; James 1:27). Therefore, members are expected to detest and be separate from the wicked attitudes, practices, and unwholesome influence of the ungodly society around us. This is not to be thought of as a call to absolute separation from all contact with the ungodly, which would require us to leave the world (1 Corinthians 5:9, 10).
Respecting the World’s Attitudes
Members are expected to resist the worldly attitude that the things of this life are of primary importance (1 John 2:15 17). Members are not to become so absorbed with work, material possessions, politics, recreation, television, sports, or any other person or things that would rival our primary attachment to Christ (Matthew 6:24). Members are not to adopt the distorted values of the world, such as: considering self worth to be rooted in intelligence, wealth, usefulness to society, beauty, sex appeal, or athletic skill; or considering that our personal peace and happiness should be pursued as our ultimate goal, and are attained by our acquiring possessions. Members are not to adopt the moral relativism of the world, especially respecting the sanctity of life and truth. Members are to resist worldly attitude about masculinity and femininity, reject the carnal notions that male and female roles are arbitrary and reversible, that sexual orientation is a matter of preference rather than morality, and that marriage is oppressive, unless it is egalitarian. Members are to regard the wife’s primary role to be that of a helper to her husband (Genesis 2:18f), her basic (but not necessarily exclusive) sphere of labor to be domestic (Proverbs 31:10 3 1; 1 Timothy 5:14; Titus 2:4), and her estate as wife and mother to be noble and honorable, rather than degrading and unfulfilling. Members are to regard a husband’s role not only to be that of provider and protector (Ephesians 5:23, 28; 1 Timothy 5:8), but also to be that of giving personal nurture to his wife (Genesis 18:6 8; Ephesians 5:25-26; 1 Peter 3:7).
Respecting the World’s Practices
Members are not to indulge in any of the vices which surround us: drunkenness, drug abuse, gluttony, viewing pornographic materials, fornication, homosexuality, and other such sins.
Respecting the World’s Influence
Members are to refrain from all entangling relationships with the ungodly, such as intimate, frequent companionship with them (I Corinthians 15:33; James 4:4), pursuing romantic interest in them (Judges 16:4-5; 1 Kings 11:4 9; Proverbs 2:16-17; 6:20, 23 25), and contracting marriages with them (1 Corinthians 7:39; 2 Corinthians 6:14). Similarly, members are expected to carefully seek to discern and resist any wicked influence of this godless society upon our souls and our families, whether it is exerted by means of television, videotapes, movies, music, literature, schools, or by any other means (Romans 12:1-2).
Section 5: Termination of Membership
Paragraph A: Reasons for Termination
1. By Physical Death
When a member of the church is removed from our midst by death, his name shall be removed from the membership roll (Hebrews 12:23).
2. By Transfer
When it is so requested, the elders may grant a departing member in good standing a letter of transfer to the fellowship of another church (Acts 18:27). No such letter may be given to a member who is at that time under the corrective discipline of this church. The elders may refuse to grant a letter of transfer to any church which is in their judgment disloyal to the faith which was once delivered to the saints (Jude 3), or which does not exercise godly care over its members.
3. By Resignation
Membership in Dallas Reformed Baptist Church is entered and initiated jointly by voluntary commitment from the individual applicant and acceptance by the church, expressed in terms of the procedures described in Section 3 of this Article. It follows, then, that members cannot terminate their membership unilaterally under all circumstances. As a general rule, a member may voluntarily resign from membership in Dallas Reformed Baptist Church. However, a resignation offered by a person guilty of sin which calls for corrective discipline is not valid, and the church may proceed with public censure, imposition of strictures, or excommunication, as is appropriate to the circumstances and in accordance with the procedures outlined in Article 6 (Acts 15:24; 1 John 2:18-19; 2 John 7 11).
4. By Exclusion
If a member habitually absents himself from or ceases to attend the stated meetings of the church without showing just cause, or if upon relocation a member ceases to maintain vital contact with the church, such a one may be excluded from membership at the direction of the elders (1 John 2:19). In such cases, the elders shall attempt to contact the person and to rectify and resolve the situation (Ezekiel 34:4). If these efforts are ineffective the elders shall inform that person (when feasible) and the congregation that such a person is no longer a member. If a member not guilty of heresy, scandalous immorality, or divisiveness either renounces his commitment to keep any of the requirements of membership listed in Section I or Section 4 of this Article (Psalm 15:4; 24:4; Matthew 5:37) or ceases to practice them as a pattern of life (Ecclesiastes 5:1 5; Matthew 21:28 30; 23:3) and yet wishes to remain in membership, refusing to resign voluntarily, he may be excluded, but only after repeated admonitions from the elders (11 Timothy 2:24,26). In such cases the elders shall announce to the congregation at a stated meeting of the church their intention to exclude that person. Time will be allowed for objections or questions to be raised privately with the elders by any member. If no objection is raised which the elders considered to be valid, the person will be excluded by action of the elders. The congregation and the person shall be informed of this action.
5. By Excommunication
According to the teachings of Holy Scripture, a congregation must cut off from its fellowship and visible membership any person who teaches or insists on holding false and heretical doctrine, who blatantly and impenitently conducts himself in a manner inconsistent with his Christian profession, or who persists in disturbing unity, peace, or purity of the church (Matthew 18:15; Romans 16:17 20; 1 Corinthians 5: 1, Titus 3: 10-11). The procedures to be followed in such excommunication are set forth in Section 2 of Article VI.
Paragraph B. Implications of Termination
1. And the Universal Church
Dallas Reformed Baptist Church does not exist in isolation from, but is a part of, the universal church of Christ composed of all true believers. Accordingly, open and forthright communication among the churches is vital to the purity, peace, edification, and unity of the church universal. Therefore, the elders may, at their discretion, disclose to other evangelical leaders and churches the circumstances under which a person’s membership was terminated (Acts 15:24; 1 Timothy 1:20; 2 Timothy 2:17; 4:10-14).
2. And Society
Dallas Reformed Baptist Church does not exist in isolation from society at large. Accordingly, the church has a moral obligation to society both to act with integrity and to maintain its testimony (2 Corinthians 8:20-21). Therefore, the elders may, at their discretion, disclose to other persons outside the ecclesiastical circles mentioned above the circumstances under which a person’s membership was terminated (Leviticus 5:1; Proverbs 29:24; 1 Peter 4:15).
3. And Divisive Conduct
Termination of membership does not give license to former members to sow discord, spread false teachings or reports, or engage in any other behavior which threatens the peace and unity of Dallas Reformed Baptist Church or the church universal. Therefore, when it is established that a former member is behaving divisively, the elders may issue whatever warnings they deem appropriate to maintain and preserve the peace and harmony of this congregation and the church universal (Acts 15:24; Romans 16:17 20; 1 Timothy 1:20; 2 Timothy 2:17; 4:10,14).