"Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it." 1 Corinthians 12:27
The New Testament generally assumes that every Christian is a part of a local church. There are exceptions to this general rule (such as missionaries), but that is precisely the point: they are exceptions. Even missionaries in the New Testament seem to have strong relationships with their sending churches. For example, the Apostle Paul had a strong relationship with his supporting church, Philippi. The point is this: sheep (a term the Scriptures often use to describe Christians) are meant to be in a sheepfold. We are meant to be together laboring to bring glory to God. For God’s glory and the good of your soul, Arlington Baptist Church encourages all Christians to partner with a local church in membership.
“So, do not merely attend a church (though you should attend), but join a church. Link arms with other Christians. Find a church you can join, and do it so that non-Christians will hear and see the Gospel, so that weak Christians will be cared for, so that strong Christians will channel their energies in a good way, so that church leaders will be encouraged and helped, so that God will be glorified” (Mark Dever, Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, 162–164).
To join Arlington Baptist Church, you must complete these steps:
Repentance and Faith
First, if you have not already done so, you must turn from your sins and place your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and hope of eternal life. We would love to talk with you to help clarify the gospel and the claims of Christ (see Gospel Study below, or visit The Gospel for more information on how to become a Christian.)
Second, you must attend the membership course. In this course we want to more fully introduce you to what it means to partner with Arlington Baptist in membership and ministry. The class covers our church's mission and ministry, statement of faith, church covenant, leadership, worship philosophy, and much more. It is offered every Sunday morning as a five-week Sunday School class. Our hope is to slow you down just enough to help you understand our church with greater depth and what is expected of you as a member.
After you complete the membership course, you would then fill out a membership application. Candidates for membership will write their personal testimony and answer a few other questions. The primary purpose of the membership application (and the membership conversation with the pastors to follow) is to verify that candidates are followers of Christ who align with our basic beliefs.
Membership Conversation with the Pastors
Next, you must meet with the pastors for a membership conversation. The pastors want to get to know you better, hear your understanding of the gospel, hear about how God has worked in your life, and answer any questions you may have about the church. You would then sign the statement of faith and church covenant. Then, at a regularly scheduled elders' meeting, the elders will review your testimony. Upon receiving their collective approval, your application proceeds to the next step: congregational affirmation.
Once all prior steps of the membership process are completed, during our bimonthly members' meetings, an elder briefly describes how you have come to know the Lord. Questions are fielded, a vote is taken, and with a majority agreement, the congregation will welcome you as a new member of our church family.
For those who have already been baptized as a believer by immersion in a gospel-believing congregation, you become a member of ABC immediately upon the affirmative vote of our own congregation. For those who have not yet been baptized, you must obey Jesus Christ’s command and be baptized upon your profession of faith as the final step of membership. We will coordinate with you to schedule your baptism at ABC as a public profession of your faith in Christ following the church vote.
Occasionally, the elders will recommend further study of the gospel before proceeding with the membership process. The purpose of the gospel study is to help discern whether the candidate understands and has embraced the gospel with sufficient clarity that he/she can provide a credible profession of faith. Study leaders will provide feedback to the elders for review, and candidates will proceed to the next step in the process only upon the recommendation of the elders. The gospel study may occur prior to or after taking the membership course, but must occur prior to being recommended for a congregational vote.
To request a Youth Gospel Study, the parent(s) or guardian(s) who believes their youth has been truly converted and is ready for membership should request to meet with an elder to discuss their youth’s desire to be baptized and become a church member. The elder(s) and parent(s) will decide together whether to proceed with the study.
The church vote isn’t the end of the membership process; it is only the beginning. When you become a member of Arlington Baptist Church, you join our church family in a shared commitment. As your church, we commit to help you connect with God’s people, grow in your faith, and use your gifts to build the body of Christ. Your commitment as a member is to be a fully devoted follower of Christ, to support our shared beliefs (our mission, statement of faith, and church covenant), to be active in our fellowship (through regular attendance, giving, prayer, and service), and to impact the lives of people in your sphere of influence with the love of Christ. As you seek to live as a disciple of Christ, the challenges and joys of going through this life with others who know you and love you are immeasurable.
“If I had never joined a church till I had found one that was perfect, I should never have joined one at all; and the moment I did join it, if I had found one, I should have spoiled it, for it would not have been a perfect church after I had become a member of it.” — Charles Haddon Spurgeon