a new identity

When you commit your heart and life to Jesus, you become a "new creation" and a citizen of a new kingdom that includes followers of Jesus from every tribe, tongue, and nation - past, present, and future. After becoming a Christian and being baptized, participating in God's mission through a local church is the next step.

A "church" is a local assembly or community of these believers who trust in Jesus as their Savior and Lord. Believers should be committed to gathering regularly for teaching, fellowship, prayer, and to spreading the good news about the kingdom of God - that it is available to anyone who repents and puts their faith and trust in Jesus' life, death, and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins. 

Being made up of people means that no church is perfect, but that does not exempt us from doing our best to obey God's Word. The New Testament is filled with commands and encouragement to be committed to and to sacrifice for the "Body of Christ" - the term used to identify this eternal and global community of believers (Ephesians 1:22-23) - including local churches.

    "husbands, love your wives, as christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." (ephesians 5:25)

    If Christ loved His Church (people) enough to die for her, then every believer who loves Christ should also love His Church and be committed to her well-being. By being committed to the well-being of a local church, we are demonstrating our commitment to the well-being of Christ's global, eternal Church.

    "If anyone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother who he has seen cannot love god whom he has not seen." (1 john 4:20)

    The local church is where we begin to learn and apply what it means to love God and love other people. It provides believers with opportunities to serve and love people who are both similar to and very different from themselves. In a society that focuses almost exclusively on "What's in it for me?", the local church should be filled with believers following Jesus' example of sacrificing for others out of love and promoting unity through the teaching of God's Word and a shared gratitude for what God has done for everyone who will repent and believe.

    "as each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of god's varied grace" (1 peter 4:10)

    The local church provides believers with a community to serve God in by using and improving whatever talents and gifts God has given them for His glory and the benefit of others. Bouncing from church to church based on superficial judgements, momentary needs, or entertainment value is to be focused on self. Likewise, "attending" a church - receiving time and attention from her leaders and resources from her members but never giving back - is to avoid making that commitment to the Body of Christ and to leave your God-given gifts unused.

    "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near." (Hebrews 10:24-25)

    Christians who have the Holy Spirit of God living in them will naturally gravitate towards being with other believers: to learn from them, to serve them, and to encourage and stimulate each other to do great things for God.  A person who professes Christ Jesus as Lord but has no desire to be among brothers and sisters in Christ is not a healthy Christian. Our participation and our heartfelt attempts to gauge our love for fellow believers is a God-given way to examine whether or not we are truly a "new creation". 

    "obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you." (Hebrews 13:17)

    Christians are not immune to the influence of a society that says nobody has a right to tell anyone how to live and authority cannot be trusted. Yet, the Bible reveals that God expects Christians to submit to their spiritual leaders and rest assured that those leaders will give an account to God for the souls under their care. That doesn’t mean submit blindly, even if the leaders ignore or violate Scripture. It means submit to them so long as they are not teaching lies or personal opinions, are doing their best to obey God’s Word, and want what God wants for every believer - continual growth in holiness and love. 

    It can be discouraging and draining on churches to keep reaching out to and giving time, energy, and instruction to believers who have no intention of committing, no desire to grow or invest in others, and no passion for the kingdom of God. Joining a local church demonstrates that you are willing to trust God's authority expressed through who He has placed there as leaders. 

    a note about "church membership"

    No matter which local church you join, it is the global, eternal "Body of Christ" that provides you with your primary identity and connects you to genuine believers everywhere, whether they are members of a different church down the street or part of the underground, persecuted churches in nations where the good news about the Kingdom of God is forbidden to be shared.

    Having said that, going through some sort of a membership class is a modern tool that helps local churches and their leaders know you are serious about living out your new identity through Jesus alongside them and that you want to be discipled in order to make disciples for the Kingdom of God.

    "Get Planted" membership class

    Filling out the form below tells us that you are interested in becoming a member of Thrive Church. You will be contacted and notified of the next scheduled "Get Planted" Membership Class, where you will be able to learn about how Thrive Church was started, about our scriptural beliefs, how to connect with or serve in one of our ministries, and also ask us any questions that you may have.

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