What Does It Mean to Be a Member
of Calvary Chapel Svitlovodsk?

What Is the Church?

In the New Testament, the word “church” (gk. ecclesia) literally means “a gathering”. However, believers in Christ are called “church” both when they are gathered for worship and when they are scattered. Therefore, the Bible says that church is both the gathering of believers in Jesus Christ, as well as the believers themselves. The church is not a building or a system but people who worship Jesus both corporately and individually.

The foundation of the church is the confession of Jesus as Christ, Son of God. (Mt.16:16-18) Therefore, the church consists of all those who have believed in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, the Son of God, God in the flesh. In that sense, the church is all believers in Jesus Christ, and there is only one church. (Eph. 4:4)

However, the NT also speaks of different “churches” – that is, specific, local groups of believers in Jesus, who gather under biblical leadership for corporate worship, the preaching God’s Word, the practice of the sacraments and church discipline, and fulfillment of the great commission. Therefore, in the Bible, the word church has 2 meanings: the universal church and the local church. Every believer is a member of the church in the universal sense as soon he believes in the Gospel and is born again. But God also calls every believer to become a member of a local church for edification, growth, mutual service and for the fulfilling of the great commission.

The Bible uses 3 main illustrations for the church: bride, body, family. The church as bride describes our relationship to Jesus directly. The last two illustrations help us to see what the church is in relationship not only to God but also to one another.

The Church As Body

In Rom. 12, Paul writes: “For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.” The church is like a body. This rich illustration implies a number of important things about the church:

1. Jesus leads the church

He is the head of the body. (Col. 1:18)  As a local church, we don’t follow our own ideas and try to get Jesus to join us. Rather, we seek to submit ourselves to His guidance all things by Him. That means that His Word is the highest authority for the life of the church. The human leaders of the church are not the head of the Church. Their responsibility is to submit themselves and the church to the Head, Jesus, to His Word and the Holy Spirit, not simply to the newest fashion, or programs.

2. We are connected to one another

The church is not just a random meeting of people who really have nothing to do with each other. We are connected to each other, part of one another. This must be more than empty words. The Christian life must be lived in community with one another. The idea of a body means that there is a real and a lasting connection between members. Because the church is a body, we seek to abide in real, sincere relationships with each other so that we might be built up together. We seek to develop these relationships as a church, especially through home fellowships, but also outside of official church gatherings.

3. Every member is needed

We all have different positions in the body, different roles, but we all need one another. (1 Cor. 12)  There are no parts of the body that are unnecessary. There are no parts that do nothing. All parts mutually receive and give to each other.  (Eph. 4:16) In a human body, when cells only take for themselves and give nothing, this is called cancer. Church is not just about taking for self, using others to meet your needs with little interest in serving others. This attitude is consumeristic and destructive to the whole body. Rather, we seek to use our unique gifts, resources, finances, talents and time to bless and serve one another. While such commitment is not expected of unbelievers or guests at our services, this is the biblical calling for all members of the church.

The Church As Family

The Bible also describes the church as a family. God is our heavenly Father who has received us into His family through Jesus Christ. (Eph. 1:5) This means that we are all brothers and sisters. This description of the church as family also implies some important truths:

1. We enter God’s family by birth

Just as a child enters a family by birth, so we enter God’s family by being born again. This is the only requirement to be part of God’s family! However, once we are born into God’s family, He desires for us to grow to maturity in our relationship with Him and one another (Eph. 4:13-15). In CC Svitlovodsk, we seek to reflect this truth in our approach to local church membership. We do not obligate a person to meet a list of requirements before becoming a member. If you are born again and believe God has called you to CC Svitlovodsk as your local church home, we consider you a member! However, as in the universal church, we also desire to see members grow to maturity in the faith. In a family, maturity follows after birth. A child is not born mature. Similarly, we do not set various requirements for becoming a church member, but believe and expect that as members of God’s family, we will grow and strive towards maturity in Christ.

2. God directs the church through called and qualified leaders 

God is the Father of our church family. In a large family, the father sometimes puts one sibling in charge of other siblings. Similarly, God appoints leaders in the church who are responsible to help the whole family of God fulfill the Father’s will. (Eph. 4:11-13) The authority of the church’s leaders is not intrinsic (of themselves) but delegated by God to accomplish God’s purposes. Biblical leaders, though also fallen, imperfect sinners, are to meet the qualifications for leaders in Scripture (1 Tim. 3, Tit. 1), as well as model humility and repentance.

3. We are committed to one another 

In a family when things get hard, we don’t just leave or find something easier. We don’t ignore sin or remain in unforgiveness, but seek to stir each other up towards love and good works. (Heb. 10:24)  We seek to love each other and not just give up on one another. This means we are responsible for one another and, in humility and a spirit of meekness for the purpose of restoration, we convict one another when we see a member in unrepentant sin, being ready to bring it before the church leadership in the case of unrepentance. (Mt. 18:15-17) In extreme cases when a person ignores attempts at restoration, the church’s love for him may be manifest through church discipline, including excommunication from the church, but always with the goal of  his restoration. And the door is always left open for his repentance and return. (Gal. 6:1)

All this means that, as in any family, we as members of CC Svitlovodsk have both privileges and responsibilities. The following list summarizes these.

What Does It Mean To Be a Member of CC Svitlovodsk?

1. Faith in Jesus Christ 

You have received Jesus personally as your Lord and Savior. You believe that Jesus is God come in the flesh, that He died as a substitutionary sacrifice in your place, rose bodily from the dead for your justification by grace, not by works, and that you will live eternally with Him in His Kingdom. If you haven’t received that good news yet, you’re not yet a member of the church in either the universal or local sense. You’re a guest and we’re glad you’re here! We would urge you to first become part of God’s family by repenting and believing in the Gospel! Then you can consider and decide if God is calling you to membership in CC Svitlovodsk.

2. Baptism 

Those who receive Jesus as Lord are to witness to this through water baptism. (Mt. 28:19) Water baptism is like a birth certificate: it doesn’t create new life, but it’s a public statement that you are born again. As a new creation in Christ for a testimony our salvation, one of our first steps of obedience to God should be receiving water baptism. If you are a member of CC Svitlovodsk, but you have not yet received water baptism, you agree to speak with the leaders of the church about this.

3. Authority of Scripture

You recognize the Word of God, all 66 books of the Bible, as the highest authority for your life and doctrine, as well as for the church.

4. Submission to church leadership

You agree with both the vision and the statement of faith of CC Svitlovodsk as faithful expressions of biblical doctrine. You agree not to cause division over these or other teachings of CC. You agree to submit to the leadership of the church in questions of church practice where there is no contradiction with Scripture.

5. Privileges:

Besides fulfilling the responsibilities of membership, the leaders of this church will also be held to the standards of Scripture for leadership and will lead the church by both word and example. Leaders will seek to serve the members of the body by teaching the whole counsel of God’s Word, laboring in that, by equipping members for the work of the ministry, by caring for members through counseling and prayer, by applying church discipline when necessary in a spirit of humility, love and restoration, and by seeking as much as possible to be led of the Spirit in all decisions.

6. Responsibilities:

You will seek to maintain a living and healthy relationship with Jesus through regular reading of God’s Word and prayer. You agree to make regular participation in church services, both on Sundays and in home fellowship, a priority in your life for the study of God’s Word, fellowship, taking communion and prayer. (Acts. 2:42, 46) You will seek to glorify Jesus with your whole life, including generous financial giving to the church, in serving others in the body (whether in official ministry roles or not), and in seeking to fulfill the great commission through sharing the Gospel with the lost. In addition, you agree not to participate in a regular ministry role in other churches. You agree to submit to church discipline if and when such a need should arise, understanding that this is an act of love and restoration. You agree to seek to walk with Jesus, not in unrepentant sin, and repent quickly when you do sin.

** Note: children of church members or other children who attend services regularly are considered members of the church, though their responsibilities are limited. Once a child reaches adulthood, they will need to confirm their own membership independent from their parents. A minor may confirm their own membership before this if they understand and agree with the meaning of membership outlined above.