What does the Bible have to say regarding membership in a local church in my community?

The New Testament is a record of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as well as that of local churches. The importance of the local church is emphasized in that twenty-two of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament are written to or about local churches.

The first local church was established shortly after Jesus ascended to heaven. Below is the biblical account of their first meetings.

"They (newly baptized believers in Christ) devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved" (Acts 2:42-47).

This passage indicates that believers in Christ came together in their communities on a regular basis to worship, serve each other and minister to those in need. Yes, the local church is important to God. It is His established avenue of worship and ministry.

Why should I be a member of a local church?

This is, in part, answered by the previous question. The Bible teaches that it is important for personal spiritual development, the enrichment of the body of believers in the community and for ministry to those in need. It is safe haven of belonging, a place where people come together with common beliefs to worship God and receive instruction on how to be more faithful followers of Jesus Christ. Also, the church provides an avenue of service through which you can minister to others. So, it is a two-sided coin. You need the church to grow and worship, while the believers in the church need you to help them through your service and ministry!

Is there a class that will answer some specific questions I have regarding the First Baptist Church?

Yes. The New Members/New Believers Class is taught regularly to both new members and those who are interested in joining. It is conducted by ministers of the First Baptist Church and you are welcome to attend. This class will discuss ministries and beliefs of the church. Literature is provided and you are free to ask questions throughout. If you are interested in attending this class, simply call the church office (239)-597-6057 and inquire when it will meet.

How do I become a member of First Baptist Church?

You may become a member by talking to any pastoral staff member. At the conclusion of the worship service you will be invited to come to the front of the church and speak to one of the ministers regarding any decision that the Lord is directing you to make. At that time you should leave your seat and proceed to the front of the church. When you speak to the minister simply say that you would like to become a member of the church. You will then be introduced to a special counselor who will walk with you to a private room and guide you in membership.

Are there prerequisites for church membership?

Yes. In order to be a member of the church, you must have placed your trust in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.  The Bible also teaches that to be a member of a local church you must be a baptized believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. "Those who accepted His message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day" (Acts 2:41). The counselor will assist you in understanding this and scheduling baptism if it is desired.

What about my children?

Children are welcomed as members of the church. They should come forward at the end of the service following the Pastor's message. A minister will be standing at the front of the church to greet them. They will receive special counseling by a trained and caring adult. There is also a class that is conducted regularly to teach children about Jesus Christ, becoming a Christian, church membership and baptism. All children are encouraged to be part of this class. It is taught on their level and allows them the opportunity to be sure that they understand their commitment to Jesus Christ before being baptized. Children can take this class at any time. Please call the church office (239)-597-6057 to discover when it is being offered.

Are there different ways to join the church?

There are several ways that people may joining the First Baptist Church. However, all of them are built upon the prior requirement of being a baptized believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.

1) By confessing Jesus Christ as your Savior and being baptized by immersion.

2) By transferring your membership from another Southern Baptist Church.

3) By making a clear statement of possessing faith in Christ and that you have been biblically baptized by immersion following this commitment. (Many people who were previously members or regular attendees of a church of another denomination that practiced baptism by immersion join this way.)

4) By making a clear statement of possessing faith in Christ, but you have yet to be baptized by immersion. This requires a desire to be baptized by immersion.

What if I have never been a church member before, can I still join the First Baptist Church?

Yes. All are welcome to join. Please see the proceeding question for more details.

What if I am not a Southern Baptist? Can I join the First Baptist Church?

Yes. All are welcome to join. Your denominational affiliation is not that significant. The priority is a faith in Christ and baptism by immersion.

I'm a seasonal resident. Can I join First Baptist Church?

Since many have residences here as well as out of the state, you may consider this option. You can join by stating that you possess a sincere faith in Christ and have been baptized by immersion following this commitment. Your current membership should be outside of the Naples area and in a church which adheres to the fundamentals of the Christian faith. Your church membership with the out-of-town church will not be affected by dual membership in any way.

If I become a member of First Baptist Church, what is expected of me?

Naturally, we expect that all of our people will seek to live truly Christian lives, thus following God's expectations for us. We trust that you will seek to be regular in attendance in worship services and in a Bible and Life Group. We know that you will want to worship God with the Body. We also expect members to support the church financially as instructed in the Bible. We ask that you seek to preserve the unity of the Church through love, forgiveness and peace, and not be divisive through criticism, gossip or slander. We encourage you to find a place of service utilizing your talents, gifts, passion and calling. Sharing our vision to be a lighthouse ministry that touches the world with the good news of God's love is also important. We look forward to witnessing together to those who do not know Christ, through our lives and words.

"Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another- and all the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:24-25).

What if I still have some questions?

God loves you and we really care about you. Please call the church office (239) 597-6057 and ask to speak to one of the ministers. Your questions are important and we want to be available to serve you in this matter.