In addition to Overseers and Deacons, within the church are non-Christians (those who have not yet believed in Jesus Christ) in the process of sorting out their relationship with God and the church Members already calling Ekklesia Muskogee their home and taking responsibility to ensure it’s health and growth. Church Members are Christians (those who have believed in Jesus Christ) whose eyes are capable of seeing beyond themselves to the well-being of the whole church. They realize that Jesus died not just for them but also for their church (Acts 20:28). They also realize that he calls them to selflessly give of their money (2 Cor 8:8-15) and abilities in order to build up their church (1 Cor 14:12); just as Jesus has selflessly given us his riches (by becoming a man, pouring out himself to death, and giving us his righteousness by grace through faith) and abilities (by paying for our sin on the cross, which only he could pay and by sending us His Holy Spirit to empower us to live lives we were created to live). It all goes back to the gospel, as it always does.
WHO SHOULD BE A CHURCH MEMBER?
Some Christians question whether they need to have a church home in which they participate as official church Members. But the illustrative imagery of the church through The New Testament includes the fact that Christians are to work together as a family (1 Tim 3:15; 5:1-2) or as the parts of a body (1 Cor 12:16-17). The early church had a notion of Membership that included numerical records (Acts 2:37-47), records of widows (1 Tim 5:3-16), elections or the appointing of Deacons (Acts 6:1-6), discipline (Matt 18:15-20; 1 Cor 5; Gal 6:1), accountability (Heb 13:17), and an awareness of who was a church member (Rom 16:1-16). We believe obedience to New Testament teaching requires that a Christian be a member of a local church, since most of the epistles open with “to the church,” which is speaking to the Invisible Church but it was first delivered to the Visible Church.
When the Bible speaks of church Membership it does not take it lightly, but does so with all seriousness in relational terms. Christians are to work within their particular church for the cause of the gospel (Rom 12:4-5; Eph 2:18-19). Therefore church Members are, in a sense, leaders of and servants in the church who serve according to their abilities in accordance with Jesus’ command to love God and love your neighbor. This shows up not just in what they feel but largely in what they say and do. The church Members must be trained and released to use their spiritual gifts in various ways so that they too are leading the church, behind the Overseers and Deacons, as the priesthood of believers that Scripture speaks of throughout The New Testament. Inside the church and outside the church, all Members are called to lead believers and unbelievers to the gospel of God the Father in the face of Jesus Christ by the power of God the Holy Spirit.
The gospel is not only for conversion; the gospel is for life.
HOW CAN SOMEONE BECOME OF COVENANT MEMBER OF EKKLESIA MUSKOGEE?
To become a church member of Ekklesia Muskogee one must first be a Believer in Jesus Christ who has met the requirements of membership established by our Overseers. Those things include being baptized at some point as an outward demonstration of what and who you have put your faith and trust in, namely, Jesus perfect life for righteousness, death on the cross for sin, and resurrection from the dead for salvation- which is our only hope for salvation; also to show that we believe because of God’s grace in Jesus Christ, He has washed us clean and our sin remains no more. Members must have had at least two scheduled meetings with one of the Overseers to discuss the Doctrine of Ekklesia Muskogee, which helps us be confident in the Members commitment to the church and the gospel of Jesus Christ, and also provides the would be Member an opportunity to ask the Overseers questions about the church. Finally, Members must sign a written church covenant with the Overseers to serve in the church, pray for the church, give financially to the church, read their Bibles regularly, love their brothers and sisters in Christ in word and deed, respect the authority of church leaders including submitting to church discipline if necessary, attend church gatherings both small and large, and share the gospel with others in word and deed.
Also, at Ekklesia Muskogee we will ask Members to fill out an annual financial pledge- showing what they feel Jesus is telling them to give to His local church. We will send out quarterly giving updates to each member. Pledges help us set our annual budget based on a credible estimate of what our giving income will be for that year. Pledges also help Members to have a plan as faithful stewards.
As functioning Members of Ekklesia Muskogee will be given some extra privileges that we do not extend to other people in general. For example, we will operate with an open books policy for all Members, so they may be able to see where the church’s money is being spent and given. Also, we as Overseers and Deacons will lead out in seeking to meet the needs of the church Members that arise financially. We believe this is a way to put into practice what we see in the early church, speaking of church Members: “And they were selling their possessions and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.” Acts 2:45. We will not, however be able to meet all of the needs of people who simply attend but will not make the covenant of membership and officially join. This may seem harsh to some, but this is how the Overseers of Ekklesia Muskogee will be able to guard the flock entrusted to them and to effectively take care of one another as a family. It is our desire to see all regenerated believers who are not plugged in to a local church do so. We believe it is biblical, and it is the best way for a group of Christians to actively live out the gospel as a family and the body of Christ. Additionally, only Members are allowed to oversee certain areas of ministry as primary leaders. Nonmembers are encouraged to continue to gather in Community Groups and Worship Gatherings, to grow, and to invite their saved and lost friends to do the same. They are encouraged to serve as a connecting point for the lost to come, see, and hear the gospel which is the only lasting hope for all humanity. Nonmembers are also encouraged to take the steps to become covenant Members of Ekklesia Muskogee. This is encouraged so that we may all be confident that everyone is on the same page in ministry and with living out the gospel as the church. When we maintain the balance between healthy, respected, mature leaders and active, worshiping, serving Members, the church will excel as the living body of Christ.