In the Wesleyan Church, membership is part of the path to discipleship. Members agree annually to partner with the local church in the coming year, and the local church agrees to embrace that member and help him/her become what Jesus desires them to be. Here are some Frequently Asked Questions about membership and membership renewal:
Why do we need membership?
Membership is a declaration that I intend to follow Jesus from within the authority He exercises through my local church. After the death and resurrection of Jesus and the coming of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2, the work of Jesus in this world is continuously described within the framework of local churches. Most of the NT letters are written to local churches rather than to individuals. Those written to individuals often describe how that individual ought to be leading his local church (see 1 Timothy 3). Even Paul’s missionary work is done under the auspices of the local churches in Antioch and Jerusalem, to which Paul would periodically report. God clearly values the local church and authorizes pastors and elders to engage in a relational form of leadership from within the local church structure (see 1 Peter 5:1-5, Hebrews 13:17, and others.) Membership simply acknowledges that I believe that Jesus is working through my local church and that I intend to follow Him from within this particular body.
What if I don’t renew?
The Constitution of the Wesleyan Church (a.k.a., The Discipline) says this: “If a member chooses not to participate in the annual reaffirmation process, that choice will be considered as a voluntary withdrawal from membership.” We do give a 1 year grace period, so it is only after a member doesn’t renew on 2 consecutive years that they are removed. Before we remove a member, we do follow up with them to make sure that they didn’t just forget. If you decide not to renew your membership, we will still embrace you as part of our local church and you are still able to participate in almost all aspects of what we do as a church.
What is entire sanctification?
While some churches choose to emphasize that a believer in Jesus will sin every day in word, thought and deed, Wesleyans prefer to emphasize the power of God to set us free from our slavery to sin. Entire sanctification describes a believer’s relationship with God at that point when he/she has believed in Jesus and is ready to follow Him with all his/her heart, soul, mind, and strength. As the believer consecrates himself/herself to God, God releases him/her from the power of inherited sin and enables him/her to obey the Lord in word, thought and deed. This is not a state of absolute perfection. Sin is still possible, but it is not inevitable. Such a believer has the power to walk away from sin if he/she will exercise this God-given strength. A key verse articulating this is 1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has come upon you except what is common to humanity. But God is faithful; he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation he will also provide a way out so that you may be able to bear it.”