Anyone who would like to be received into fellowship at Louisville Bible Fellowship should understand that being in fellowship is not “church membership.” According to the Bible, membership in the church begins automatically when one is “born again,” and always refers to one’s place in the whole body of Christ. It has nothing to do with church membership as a legal term giving a place in a corporation, with voting rights etc., as often used in churches in our country today.
Fellowship in the assembly by contrast, has no legal implications whatsoever. It is a spiritual matter of grace whereby the person desires to be under the watchful care and accountability of the elders to God, and agrees to live in peace with brothers and sisters in the fellowship. All believers should know that while leaders at Louisville Bible Fellowship are always happy to examine our beliefs and practices in the light of Scripture, those things that may seem new, such as the absence of an official “Pastor,” the plurality of elders, the honoring of Biblical teaching about the different roles of men and women, the order in worship, etc. are not held because of convenience or tradition, but are matters of conviction from the Scriptures. Those in fellowship are expected to accept these things, and refrain from sowing discord within the church. We do understand that some may not agree, and may be happier in gatherings where traditional church practices are observed.
If you wish to come on a regular basis as a visitor, and not be in fellowship with us, this is fine. This may be because you need some time to search the Scriptures concerning our beliefs and practices. We want you to take as much time as you need. Fellowship is a two way street. Not only does the assembly receive you, but you must be willing to receive the assembly along with it’s practices and teachings. We want you to believe that we are a Scriptural church so that you may “report that God is in you (the assembly) of a truth.” 1Co 14:25. While coming as a visitor, there will be no pressure put upon you to participate in any way that you may not understand or be comfortable with. This also means that there would be no expectation that you take of the emblems during the Lord’s Supper, since this would be only for those in fellowhip in the assembly. However, we encourage you to come, watch, learn, and enjoy this meeting as with all other meetings of the assembly.
When the time comes that you desire to be received into fellowship by the assembly, please speak to an elder and they will set up a meeting to speak to you about your reception into the assembly. That’s a good time for questions and answers. The elders would ask you questions about your salvation, your baptism, your walk with the Lord, and your interest in the assembly. At the next meeting, they would then announce to the assembly your desire to be in fellowship with us and recommend you being received into the fellowship. Priviledges and responsibilities in the assembly would then be yours to enjoy.
If you have been in fellowship with another like-minded assembly somewhere else, then you could have the elders there send us a letter of recommendation, or you could give us a phone number of one of the elders there that we may call. Or, as mentioned above, you can just request a private meeting with the elders here and speak to them about your desire of being in fellowship with us. This meeting would be brief and could take place right after the Sunday morning meetings.
In the future, if you ever must leave the fellowship, please let us know in advance so that we may pray for you and make the transition to your new church home a happy one and a pleasing testimony to the Lord. We desire that both reception into fellowship and leaving the fellowship (should you ever find it necessary) be handled in a Christ honoring manner.