Frequently Asked Questions About Church Membership
What is required to be a member of Vandalia Baptist Temple?
The Bible teaches that a church is a gathering of baptized believers in Jesus Christ, who have committed themselves to one another before God to carry out the mission that Jesus gave to the church. That is why the most important requirement is that, at a specific moment in your life, you have made a faith decision to repent of your sin and trust in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. We often refer to this as “getting saved,” “accepting Jesus as your personal Savior,” or making a “profession of faith.” These are all biblical phrases that refer to that specific decision. If you would like to talk to someone about taking this step of faith, our church members and leaders would love to talk to you about it.
If you have a clear testimony of having trusted Christ as your Savior, it is also required that you be biblically baptized. Many churches and denominations use the word baptism, but do not carry out this ordinance in a way that aligns with the Bible. By “biblical baptism,” we mean that you have been baptized by immersion, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, under the authority of a church of sound doctrine, as a public testimony of your personal decision to become a follower of Jesus Christ. Baptism in the Bible is always a step that is taken after salvation, not as part of salvation.
Third, you must be willing to commit to, and support, the doctrine of Vandalia Baptist Temple, as described in our Statement of Faith, as well as the mission of Vandalia Baptist Temple, to build bridges to every generation, culture and community with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
If I want to become a member, how can I join?
The Constitution of Vandalia Baptist Temple states that you may join Vandalia Baptist Temple in one of three ways, depending on your personal circumstances and spiritual journey:
By Baptism – If you have already trusted Christ as your Savior, or were not baptized in a Baptist church, the next step is to be publicly baptized. When you are baptized at Vandalia Baptist Temple, you become a member of our congregation.
By Letter – If you are a member of another Baptist church, and believe that God is leading you to become a member of Vandalia Baptist Temple, you can ask to join by letter, which is simply a transfer of membership from one local church of like faith to another. After you come forward to join the church, and the church votes to accept you as a member, the church clerk will contact your former church by mail to notify them of your decision.
By Statement – In rare cases, there are those who are members of another Baptist church, but are unable to request a transfer of membership. For example, the church may not exist anymore, may be in another part of the world, or it may have been decades since you attended, so you are no longer an active member. In such rare cases, you may ask to join by “statement,” in essence, stating that you have trusted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, and were biblically baptized in another Baptist church. The church will then proceed to vote to accept you as a member.
Do I need to baptized at Vandalia Baptist Temple if I was baptized at another church?
One of the distinctives of Baptists throughout history has been their adherence to the Word of God as their final authority of faith and practice, and their commitment to biblical baptism by immersion in a church of sound doctrine. That is why, centuries ago, Baptists were labeled “ana-Baptists” or re-baptizers, because they did not recognize the baptism of churches that held other beliefs, especially surrounding the Gospel of salvation and baptism. They did not recognize the infant baptism of the Roman Catholic church or other Protestant denominations. They did not accept baptism by churches who believed in “baptismal regeneration” (that baptism is part of salvation), or who practiced “sprinkling” instead of immersion. They asked believers to be baptized to ensure that their baptism was valid, according to the Scriptures, but especially to show that the believer was in agreement with the doctrine of the church.
In the New Testament, you see a case in which individuals had repented of their sins and been baptized under different circumstances (the baptism of John), but were “re-baptized” by the Apostle Paul once they better understood the Gospel, and the role of Jesus and the Holy Spirit (Acts 19).
However, the greatest “line in the sand” was drawn by the Apostle Paul in the book of Galatians, where he acknowledged that some churches and teachers had altered the true Gospel of grace, either in doctrine or in practice (Galatians 1:6-9). Even though their intentions might have been good and sincere, they were mixing “faith” and “works” when it came to the Gospel, and Paul used very strong words of rebuke. That “gospel” could not be accepted in any way, even if spoken by an angel! Paul knew the consequences of altering the Gospel of grace and its implications.
In today's religious and evangelical world, there is so much doctrinal confusion. Many evangelical churches and denominations teach doctrines that modify the true Gospel of grace. Though most churches or denominations claim to believe in “salvation by faith alone,” many teach that you must be baptized (or perform other works) to be saved, or that you must maintain certain standards of obedience in order to “keep” your salvation. As a result, countless Christians live in fear, and follow various forms of legalism and rules, hoping to keep their salvation. They do not believe in the eternal security of the believer. That is not the Gospel!
Some evangelical denominations practice “sprinkling,” or methods other than immersion, when they baptize, which is not found in Scripture, nor does it illustrate the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Baptism in the Bible was always by immersion.
That is why Vandalia Baptist Temple, as so many Baptist churches have done for centuries, only accepts members who have been baptized in another Baptist church. If you believe that God has led you to this church, and if you understand that baptism is simply a testimony of your faith, we invite you to identify with Christ and Vandalia Baptist Temple by being baptized as the Lord leads you, and joining our mission to reach every generation, culture and community with the Gospel of Christ.
I am ready to become a member. What do I do now?
At the end of every Sunday service, we have a public time of response, which we call the “invitation.” People are invited to respond to God's Word and God's Spirit in their life by coming to the front and, either praying at the altar, or speaking to the pastor or one of the counselors about a spiritual decision. If you are ready to take the step to become a member, come to the front and speak to one of the leaders at the front and inform them of your decision. If you need to be baptized, they will pray with you and begin plans to schedule a service to do so. If you do not need to be baptized, but are joining by letter or statement from another Baptist church, you will be asked to remain at the front, and the pastor will call on the church members to vote to accept you as a member. Note: You are not required to speak publicly.
If you have any other questions about this important decision, please do not hesitate to ask any of our church leaders or pastoral team. Our desire is to help you seek God’s face and direction in one of the most important areas of your Christian life.