Madison Street Church Membership Guidelines

MADISON STREET CHURCH | Leadership Council

Membership Guidelines

Submitted as Substitute Proposal and Approved in Principle by Leadership Council on September 18, 2019

Sponsorship to General Council on January 26, 2020

  1. Manual of Doctrine and Government: Affirmations and Variances | The Leadership Council affirms the membership guidelines of the Brethren in Christ Manual of Doctrine and Government (MDG 2018, Congregational Handbook, Article 2, pp. 57-59), with the following exceptions:
    1. Infant Baptism | Upon recommendation by the pastor and the deacons, and on a case-by-case basis, a person having previously been baptized as an infant may be received into local church membership at Madison Street Church under the following conditions: 1) they were raised consistently in the historic Christian faith, 2) they were confirmed joyfully into the church as (young) adults, 3) they have continued in their lives to bear clear witness to their desire to follow Christ, 4) they believe that the baptismal practice they experienced was meaningful, both then and now, to their life of following Christ, and 5) they understand and accept that the standard of the BiC church is believer’s baptism, and thus they agree to remain open to new light on this issue.
    2. Church Discipline | As a Leadership Council, we find the MDG 2018 statements on discipline (cf. 2.5, p. 59) to be useful insofar as they speak to the mandatory reporting requirements of suspected abuse and neglect. However, the remaining material seems to us to be more retributive and less restorative in nature.  The Leadership Council will collaborate with the Deacons and others to develop variations from the process suggested in the MDG, as allowed by the MDG.
  1. Local Church Policy | In accordance with Church Bylaw 2.01, the following shall be our general practice in equipping for and supporting the process of becoming members of Madison Street Church[1]:
    1. Organic Relationships | We encourage people to consider church membership at Madison Street Church after they have attended regularly for a year or so. Also, we want to gently encourage our children ages 13 and up (in consultation with their parents) to begin considering Christian believer’s baptism and church membership.
    2. Discernment | We invite individuals interested in church membership to enter a time of discussion and discernment, reading Scripture, and being in a dialogue with one of the pastors and/or deacons.
    3. Catechesis | A membership class will be announced in advance and held. The membership course is without cost, but a pre-registration in advance is needed to arrange for delivery of pre-course reading materials, materials for use the day of the event and a light lunch and snacks during the event. The course and its content will be designed and facilitated primarily by the pastor, with assistance from members of the church health team, and deacons. The curriculum should minimally include:  1) a presentation of the history and values of Madison Street Church, 2) A presentation of the history and values of the Brethren in Church, 3) discussion about what it means to follow Jesus as a member of Madison Street Church, and 4) an opportunity for prospective members to ask questions.  The pastor is encouraged to adjust the specific content, length, and format of the curriculum to fit the size of the membership class and the specific needs of the prospective members. Anyone is welcome to attend this class regardless of their membership status.
    4. Diaconal Dialogue | Upon completion of the membership class, persons who wish to follow through with church membership at Madison Street Church will be asked to meet with one or more of the members of the diaconal council, as designated by the deacons. This informal meeting with the deacon(s) is designed to be a conversation or dialogue with membership candidates focused on sharing their personal testimony to faith in Jesus.  At this meeting, plans will be discussed, as needed, for baptism with those candidates for church membership who have not previously experienced believer’s baptism.[2]

Sponsorship and Reception | The Diaconal Council representative to the Leadership Council will sponsor for Leadership Council approval those seeking membership who have completed the discernment process, the membership class, and the conversational meeting with the Deacons.[3]  At a subsequent worship service, individuals approved for membership will be invited to give testimony to their faith in Christ and express their willingness to covenant with the congregation.

[1] The Leadership Council, as the governing board of the church, will have the prerogative to waive various requirements in attention to unique life circumstances that might be presented for consideration.

[2] Persons who experienced baptism as infants, and later confirmed in a church other than the BIC, may wish to be re-baptized as a sign of new found faith, or they may elect to hold on to the significance of their previous experience, and join the church by means of transfer and covenant.  As the church lacks on-site baptismal facility, the actual baptismal service may take place off campus at a time other than Sunday morning.

[3] The 2018 edition of the MDG (cf. MDG, Part Two, Congregational Handbook, Article 2.2.2, p. 58, mandates approval of candidates for membership by the church governing board, upon recommendation of the pastor).