• David Osteen

"How Do I Join Your Church?"

Preachers come across this question frequently, and so do many members of this church. Let me tell you, that’s a wonderful question! We love that question! We love that question because it means we have communicated our love for you. After all, who would want to join a church where they weren’t loved? But even more importantly (farrrrrr more importantly) it means that you love Christ, and you want to express that love for Him by being a part of His family, and honoring and glorifying Him with brethren. So that question is a question that is cause for rejoicing! It makes us happy, and we are happy to answer.

This church is not governed by manmade doctrines spelled out in manmade creed books. This church simply strives to follow the Bible; Bible teachings, Bible customs, Bible traditions. It is the very purpose of the God breathed (inspired) scriptures to teach us and to train us (II Timothy 3:16). Therefore, how can we improve upon what God has stated? We can’t. And we don’t even want to try. So when it comes to joining this church, we simply point you to the Bible.

How people joined the church in the beginning is the same way that they join the church today. We, in this local church, haven’t changed anything. We instruct people to follow the commands of God. Jesus commanded the Apostles to “make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit…” (Matthew 28:19) Likewise, we find in Mark 16:16 that what initiated this baptism was belief in the gospel that had been preached – That Jesus is the Son of God, that He died for our sins, and that through Him we can have salvation. In Acts 2, as the Apostles preached this very message, the hearts of the people were pierced by this gospel truth. It says in verse 41 that those who “received his (Peter the Apostle’s) word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” So those who confessed their belief that Christ was Lord (2:21; 8:36-37), and repented of their sins and were baptized for the forgiveness of their sins according to the gospel teaching (2:38), they were saved. They became a part of the Church of Christ – The Body of Christ – The saved.

From the Scriptures it is apparent that this is a two-party process; meaning, that both God AND man are active in people becoming a part of the church. God does the adding and men do the joining. God will not “add” men to the church who do not desire to be a part (or who do not obey what is necessary to be a part) of the church (II Thessalonians 1:7-9), and man cannot join the church if God is not willing to add them (because they have not met His conditions). And so, both parties must be willing. God must be willing to add, and man must be willing to join. We see from Acts 2:41 that those people who obeyed the gospel were added to the church, and we see in Acts 2:47 that it was the Lord who was doing the adding, through the preaching of the gospel which He had commissioned to be preached!

But just as the Lord does the adding, so we do the joining. God does not force us to be part of this “body” – the church (Colossians 1:18). We must willingly join in order to be a part. This is partly illustrated in I Corinthians 6:15-17. “But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him”. We can understand from this passage that man has an active part in joining the body of Christ. It is a willful decision that we make when we decide to die to sin and be born again through baptism into life in Christ Jesus (I Corinthians 12:13; Colossians 2:12-13). When you obey the gospel and are raised in the newness of life, having washed away your sins in baptism, you are raised into the group of The Saved, The Body, The Church.

When we speak of “The Church” in these terms, we are speaking about The Church that is comprised of all saints, in all place, and throughout all time from the beginning of The Church. You become a part of that universal body (church) of believers, or the Church of Christ. However, in the scriptures, there is another joining as well, and that is the joining of a local body (church) of believers, or a church of Christ. (Romans 16:16) This also is a two-party process. You must be willing to join (identify with) that particular local church, and that particular local church must be willing to add you to their number. We can understand this from 2 perspectives.

First, is an example in scripture of a man seeking to join a church, but the church being initially unwilling to accept Him. In Acts 9:26 Paul was trying to associate with Christians, but they did not believe he was truly a disciple of Christ – that he had truly converted (because he formerly was a great persecutor of The Church – Acts 8:1-3). Barnabas brought him to the Apostles and described the situation and Paul was subsequently added in association to the local brethren there. Another example might be Acts 18:27 where the traveling evangelist Apollos was given commendation letters by brethren so that when he went to a new location, they might “receive” him amongst them. And so we find, that in the local church, the church added as true Christians desired to join.

Second, is that we can see this two-party system of adding/joining to the local church when we observe its opposite in scripture – withdrawing/disjoining. In I Corinthians 5 you have an example of a man who was blatantly living in sin and bringing reproach upon the Church. The local church at Corinth, had a responsibility to withdraw from this man who was living in sin. They were commanded “not to associate” with him. Even if he wanted to remain a member, the church had the duty to withdraw from him until he repented. Likewise, sometimes people “leave the church” and disjoin themselves from the local church – sometimes because of sin, but other times because of innocent circumstances such as moving. Regardless, the principle should be clear, that adding and joining take two.

We want you to know that if you haven’t already, we want you to join this church! We want to associate with you, have you as a member of this local body, and build up and strengthen one another in our relationship in Christ Jesus. If you’ve been looking for a church to join, we hope you will consider us. We hope you will recognize our love for God and His people, recognize our passion to share the gospel and glorify God, and recognize our deep commitment to striving together to reach that heavenly goal! Consider this article “Your” invitation. We are inviting you. Won’t you join us? If that’s your desire, just ask one of our members here that you know, and we will be delighted to assist you.

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