Membership at Refuge
We are so glad you have chosen to explore church membership at Refuge. The purpose of this teaching is to encourage you to move forward in your relationship with Jesus and to equip you to become a Refuge member. We will do that by giving biblical answers to eight questions about membership.
#1) What are the steps for church membership?
Here at Refuge, we believe your presence here is no accident.
You are led by the Holy Spirit to want something more.
You process the membership information presented below.
You make sure you understand what membership is all about.
You meet with a Refuge leader to fill out the application and sign the Member Covenant.
Your name and story are presented to the Church Board.
Your application is accepted, or questions are made.
We’ll follow up with you either way.
Your acceptance is announced in a Sunday service with a blessing.
Your new life as a Refuge Member begins.
#2) Why Refuge membership?
Because membership is repeatedly spoken of in the Bible. It says of all who have placed their trust in Christ...
You have been made a member of God’s heavenly Kingdom, with Jesus as king. (I Peter 2:9)
You have been adopted as a member of God’s eternal family, with Jesus as big brother. (Ephesians 1:5)
You have been placed as a member of God’s living body, with Jesus as the head. (I Corinthians 12:12-13)
You have been created into a member of God’s spiritual building, with Jesus as cornerstone. (I Peter 2:4-5)
This is great news! As a believer in Jesus, you are part of something greater than yourself. Christians were never meant to go through life alone; Jesus Himself is eternally tied to Father God and the Holy Spirit; and He also modeled a life connected with other people while on earth.
The mission that God has given you is not for you to bear in solitude, but as an interconnected member of His Church. This is why we invite everyone calling Refuge home to enter into a membership covenant.
A kingdom is formed so members can work together; a family is formed so members can care for one another; a body is formed so members can live life to the full, and a building is formed so members can offer protect. In other words, members have a purpose.
That means Refuge Church has a purpose too. Our purpose (or mission) comes directly from Jesus:
Jesus said, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” - Matthew 28:18-20
God formed this local church out of His Global Church to be disciples that make disciples. God wants to see more and more people on the outside of His Church added to the inside of His Church. If you are not a believer in Jesus, we would love to help you start a relationship with Him so that you can be a part of God’s kingdom. If you already are a believer, we invite you into Refuge Membership.
#3) What is membership?
Membership is about taking personal responsibility. It is a lifestyle that reflects an owner’s heart. Chances are, because you are in this workshop, you already have the heart of an owner and the actions of a member - you just need to make it official.
Some people will forever remain in the crowd, never to take personal responsibility. They do not realize that God has a unique and important role for them to play. Let’s do a heart check...
DO YOU hide in the crowd OR seek to be known?
DO YOU avoid accountability OR ask for help to be more like Jesus?
DO YOU occasionally serve OR serve regularly?
DO YOU attend Sunday service sporadically OR engage weekly?
DO YOU borrow, take, and uses OR own, give, and build?
DO YOU lack a legal vote OR vote by faith in our non-profit corporation?
DO YOU sometimes follow Jesus OR stand for Christ in word and deed?
DO YOU kind of love God OR trust God as Father?
DO YOU misunderstand the Holy Spirit OR depend on the Holy Spirit for power?
DO YOU call Refuge home because you attend OR know Refuge is your home church & spiritual family
DO YOU care only for yourself OR live to make disciples?
Simply put, church members understand their value and seek to fulfill their role in God’s global and local church - His kingdom, family, body, and building.
#4) What is the Member Covenant?
When you came to Jesus you made a covenant with God. He promised to never leave you or fail you, and you promised to trust Him enterally. Love is unconditional, but relationships have all sorts of conditions. Jesus told us we must believe and repent to be called His own. The Member Covenant is the list of responsibilities that binds you to all the other members of Refuge. It is the mutually agreed upon relationship for spiritual growth.
1) I will protect the unity of the church:
By making choices based on truth, not feelings.
By redirecting gossip and oversharing.
By following and engaging the leadership.
2) I will share the responsibilities of the church:
By sharing Jesus with my neighbors, and inviting the unchurched to attend.
By greeting people I don’t know.
By upholding the Refuge Constitution & Bylaws.
3) I will serve the ministry of the church:
By discovering & using my spiritual gifts and talents.
By being equipped by the pastors/ministry leaders.
By maintaining the heart and attitude of a servant.
4) I will support the testimony of the church:
By attending/engaging in Sunday worship faithfully.
By living a godly life above reproach.
By giving of my resources sacrificially.
#5) How does Refuge function?
Every local church is unique in its style and method of ministry. Refuge is no exception, so this is a very important question. The answer covers several different items, but since every person’s actions grow out of what they believe, we must start with our beliefs.
It should be noted that Refuge is a proud member of the Assemblies of God family of international churches - a movement that started in revival more than 100 years ago. We are in unity with their 16 Fundamental Truths that can be found at the end of this packet, or at ag.org. For the sake of time, we have summed up the 16 Fundamental Truths in seven core beliefs.
OUR CORE BELIEFS IN SIXTEEN FUNDAMENTAL TRUTHS
These truths are to trump our feelings in every decision, as individuals, and as a church family. They are what keep all Assemblies of God churches grounded in truth and active in spreading the gospel around the world.
The Bible is our all-sufficient rule for faith and practice. This Statement of Fundamental Truths is intended simply as a basis of fellowship among us (i.e., that we all speak the same thing, 1 Corinthians 1:10; Acts 2:42). The phraseology employed in this Statement is not inspired nor contended for, but the truth set forth is held to be essential to a full-gospel ministry. No claim is made that it covers all Biblical truth, only that it covers our need as to these fundamental doctrines.
1) The Scriptures Inspired
The Scriptures, both the Old and New Testaments, are verbally inspired of God and are the revelation of God to man - the infallible, authoritative rule of faith and conduct (2 Timothy 3:15-17; I Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Peter 1:21).
2) The One True God
The one true God has revealed Himself as the eternally self-existent “I AM”, the Creator of heaven and earth and the Redeemer of mankind. He has further revealed himself as embodying the principles of relationship and association as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. (Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 43:10,11; Matthew 28:19).
3) The Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ
The Lord Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God. The Scriptures declare: (a) His virgin birth (Matthew 1:23; Luke 1:31,35) (b) His sinless life (Hebrews 7:26; 1 Peter 2:22) (c) His miracles (Acts 2:22; 10:38) (d) His substitutionary work on the cross (1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21) (e) His bodily resurrection from the dead (Matthew 28:6; Luke 24:39; 1 Corinthians 15:4) (f) His exaltation to the right hand of God (Acts 1:9,11; 2:33; Philippians 2:9-11; Hebrews 1:3)
4) The Fall of Man
Man was created good and upright; for God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” However, man by voluntary transgression fell and thereby incurred not only physical death but also spiritual death, which is separation from God (Genesis 1:26,27; 2:17; 3:6; Romans 5:12-19).
5) The Salvation of Man
The only hope of redemption for man is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ the Son of God. (a) Conditions to Salvation is received through repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ. By the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, being justified by grace through faith, man becomes an heir of God according to the hope of eternal life (Luke 24:47; John 3:3; Romans 10:13-15; Ephesians 2:8; Titus 2:11; 3:5-7). (b) The Evidences of Salvation The inward evidence of salvation is the direct witness of the Spirit (Romans 8:16). The outward evidence to all men is a life of righteousness and true holiness (Ephesians 4:24; Titus 2:12).
6) The Ordinances of the Church
(a) Baptism in Water The ordinance of baptism by immersion is commanded in the Scriptures. All who repent and believe on Christ as Savior and Lord are to be baptized. Thus they declare to the world that they have died with Christ and that they also have been raised with Him to walk in newness of life. (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:16; Acts 10:47,48; Romans 6:4). (b) Holy Communion The Lord’s Supper, consisting of the elements – bread, and the fruit of the vine – are the symbols expressing our sharing the divine nature of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:4); a memorial of His suffering and death (1 Corinthians 11:26); and a prophecy of His second coming (1 Corinthians 11:26); and is enjoined on all believers “till He come!”
7) The Baptism in the Holy Ghost
All believers are entitled to and should ardently expect and earnestly seek the promise of the Father, the Baptism in the Holy Ghost and fire, according to the command of our Lord Jesus Christ. This was the normal experience of all in the early Christian Church. With it comes the enduement of power for life and service, the bestowment of the gifts and their uses in the work of the ministry (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4,8; 1 Corinthians 12:1- 31). This experience is distinct from and subsequent to the experience of the new birth (Acts 8:12-17; 10:44- 46; 11:14-16; 15:7-9). With the Baptism in the Holy Ghost come such experiences as an overflowing fullness of the Spirit (John 7:37-39; Acts 4:8), a deepened reverence for God (Acts 2:43; Hebrews 12:28), an intensified consecration to God and dedication to His work (Acts 2:42), and a more active love for Christ, for His Word and for the lost (Mark 16:20).
8) The Evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Ghost
The baptism of believers in the Holy Ghost is witnessed by the initial physical sign of speaking with other tongues as the Spirit of God gives them utterance (Acts 2:4). The speaking in tongues in this instance is the same in essence as the gift of tongues (1 Corinthians 12:4-10, 28), but different in purpose and use.
Sanctification is an act of separation from that which is evil, and of dedication unto God (Romans 12: 1,2; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 13:12). The Scriptures teach a life of “holiness without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). By the power of the Holy Ghost we are able to obey the command, “Be ye holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:5). Sanctification is realized in the believer by recognizing his identification with Christ in His death and resurrection, and by faith reckoning daily upon the fact of that union and by offering every faculty continually to the dominion of the Holy Spirit (Romans 6:1-11; 8:1,2,13; Galatians 2:20; Philippians 2:12,13; 1 Peter 1:5)
10) The Church and Its Mission
The Church is the Body of Christ, the habitation of God through the Spirit, with divine appointments for the fulfillment of her great commission. Each believer, born of the Spirit, is an integral part of the General Assembly and Church of the Firstborn, which are written in heaven (Ephesians 1:22,23; Hebrews 12:23). Since God’s purpose concerning man is to save that which is lost, to be worshipped by man, and to build a body of believers in the image of His Son, the primary reason-for-being of the Assemblies of God as part of the Church is: (a) To be an agency of God for evangelizing the world (Acts 1:8, Matthew 28:19,20; Mark 16:15,16). (b) To be a corporate body in which man may worship God (1 Corinthians 12:13). (c) To be a channel of God’s purpose to build a body of saints being perfected in the image of His Son (Ephesians 4:11-16; 1 Corinthians 12:28; 1 Corinthians 14:12).
The Assemblies of God exists expressly to give continuing emphasis to this reason-for-being in the New Testament apostolic pattern by teaching and encouraging believers to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. This experience: (a) Enables them to evangelize in the power of the Spirit with accompanying supernatural signs (Mark 16:15-20; Acts 4:29-31; Hebrews 2:3,4). (b) Adds a necessary dimension to the worshipful relationship with God (1 Corinthians 2:10-16; 1 Corinthians 12:13,14). (c) Enables them to respond to the full working of the Holy Spirit in expression of fruit and gifts and ministries as in New Testament times for the edifying of the body of Christ (Galatians 5:22-26; 1 Corinthians 14:12; Ephesians 4:11,12; 1 Corinthians 12:28; Colossians 1:29).
11) The Ministry
A divinely called and scripturally ordained ministry has been provided by our Lord for the threefold purpose of leading the Church in: (1) Evangelization of the world (Mark 16:15-20); (2) Worship of God (John 4:23,24); (3) Building a body of saints being perfected in the image of His Son (Ephesians 4:11-16).
12) Divine Healing
Divine healing is an integral part of the gospel. Deliverance from sickness is provided for in the atonement, and is the privilege of all believers (Isaiah 53:4,5; Matthew 8:16,17; James 5:14-16).
13) The Blessed Hope
The resurrection of those who have fallen asleep in Christ and their translation together with those who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord is the imminent and blessed hope of the Christian (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; Romans 8:23; Titus 2:13; 1 Corinthians 15:51,52).
14) The Millennial Reign of Christ
The second coming of Christ includes the rapture of the saints, which is our blessed hope, followed by the visible return of Christ with His saints to reign on the earth for one thousand years (Zechariah 14:5; Matthew 24:27,30; Revelation 1:7; 19:11-14; 20:1-6). This millennial reign will bring the salvation of national Israel (Ezekiel 37:21,22; Zephaniah 3:19,20; Romans 11:26,27) and the establishment of universal peace (Isaiah 11:6-9; Psalm 72:3-8; Micah 4:3,4).
15) The Final Judgment
There will be a final judgment in which the wicked dead will be raised and judged according to their works. Whosoever is not found in the Book of Life, together with the devil and his angels, the beast and the false prophet, will be consigned to everlasting punishment in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death (Matthew 25:46; Mark 9:43-48; Revelation 19:20; 20:11-15; 21:8).
16) The New Heavens and the New Earth
We, according to His promise, look for the new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. (2 Peter 3:13; Rev 21,22).
OUR PURPOSE & MISSION
Our Core Beliefs have led us to discover why we exist as a church.
We were created and saved to be disciples of Jesus Christ that make disciples in the power of the Holy Spirit and for the glory of God. Therefore, our mission is to make disciples.
OUR CORE VALUES FOR HEALTHY MINISTRY
With our beliefs settled, and our purpose clear, we have established some markers and related questions to help us build our church calendar and evaluate our ministry health for maximum kingdom impact.
1) Trust God
We take God at His word, and train people to live their lives by truth, not feelings.
Is Refuge obeying God's Word, teaching God's Word, and promoting God's Word?
(Psalm 19:7-8; Hebrews 6:18; 2 Timothy 3:16-17)
2) Make Disciples
We seek to save the lost, and mature the found as Jesus modeled and commanded.
Is Refuge talking about making disciples, equipping people to make disciples, and leaving room to make disciples?
(Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8; Hebrews 24-25)
3) Reach Every Generation
We honor and adapt to the unique needs of every generation inside and outside the church.
Is Refuge strategically crafting its style of communication, caring, and equipping for every age group?
(Matthew 18:5-6; Acts 2:17-18; 1 Timothy 5:1-2)
4) Fight for Healthy Relationships
We humbly communicate our own needs, speak encouragement, and vocalize our concern for others to live as one body of Christ.
Is Refuge practicing honor & accountability, spending time together, and meeting one another's needs?
(Colossians 3:12-16; Galatians 6:1-4; Ephesians 4:31-32)
5) Give Sacrificially
We faithfully surrender all our time, talent, and treasure to the mission of Jesus Christ.
Is Refuge modeling to people and preparing people to give to the Lord their schedule, their skill, and their stuff?
(1 Peter 4:10-11; Psalm 112:9; 2 Corinthians 9:6)
6) Pray in Faith
We share our heart with God, and expect Him to do the same in a measurable way that produces faith.
Is Refuge modeling to people and teaching people how to biblically have conversations with God?
(John 15:16; Ephesians 6:18; Philippians 4:6-7)
7) Recalibrate Regularly
We ask God how we can better align with His heart and will in our personal lives and ministry strategy.
Is Refuge seeking the Holy Spirit to start what's missing, stop what's ineffective, and refine what's working?
(James 4:8; Psalm 139:23-24; Romans 12:2)
Our Discipleship Strategy
Here is how individual Refuge members make disciples on a regular basis, and what it looks like for new people to become a disciple of Jesus.
Our Leadership Flowchart
Here is God’s flowchart for the care, accountability, and equipping of His people.
Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called - his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.
I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else - not only in this world but also in the world to come. God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.
With our beliefs settled, our purpose clear, the ability to measure our health in place, our discipleship strategy explained, and our flowchart understood, we can now dream about our kingdom impact vision.
We see Refuge Church as a safe place for people to explore faith in Jesus and learn to love in His power. We see every generation growing in God and sharing God’s love with one another. We see a congregation who expresses themselves in worship and commits themselves to service. We see a heavenly community miraculously meeting the needs of its earthly community. We see a church that is growing in faith and in numbers, thanks to its members being disciples that make disciples.
#6) What is the cost and benefits of membership?
The cost is your life. That seems extreme, but church membership is only an expression of the commitment you’ve already made to Jesus. Refuge will only expect you to do and be what Jesus leads you to do and be. As we journey side by side, we will figure out what that is together.
As far as the benefits of church membership: You will have greater opportunity for healthy relationships, a place to use your spiritual gifts, a community that you can grow in and grow with, a sense of belonging, and a part in the conversation regarding our non-profit ministries.
#7) How do you know you’re ready for membership?
We want you to have the greatest chance of fulfilment and fruitfulness, so we ask everyone pursing membership at Refuge to make sure they meet the following minimum requirements:
A Repeatable Salvation Story (WRITE IT HERE)
Water Baptism after Salvation
Commitment to our Beliefs
Three Month Sunday Attendance
Respect for the Member Covenant (review covenant)
#8) What if you want to leave Refuge?
This may seem like an odd question to have at the front end of a conversation about church membership, but the reality is you are coming from somewhere and you may go somewhere else later. That’s natural and to be expected. The goal is to do it in a healthy, God-honoring, manner.
We ask that you use the following actions to measure the health of your exit from your last church and your future exit from Refuge.
Confess all your hurts and offences to God and the appropriate people.
Forgive anyone who has offended you.
Don’t gossip or overshare your experience.
Inform the right leadership of your departure.
Pursue membership at another church.
Your Next Step
If you are ready to move forward with Refuge Membership, all you need to do is to click the link below to set a one-on-one conversation with a Refuge leader. Together you will explore answers to all your questions, fill out the application, and sign the Membership Covenant.