Membership

Sandbox Church exists to continue the work of Jesus by making disciples through Christ-centered worship, community and multiplication.

The careful attention we pay to church membership was birthed out of our love for the church body and its individual members. Our desire is to see every member develop and grow into the fullness of Christ’s love, gifting and God's calling for their lives. The primary purpose of this document is to serve as a teaching document with three functions:

  •         To clarify the biblical obligations and expectations for both the elders of Sandbox Church and the individual members of Sandbox Church body.

  •         To establish teaching and doctrinal parameters for the Sandbox Church body.

  •         To serve as a tool for reflection and growth toward holiness.

Each of these functions is in accordance with the document’s overall vision to provide an accessible explanation of the Scriptures in hopes that Sandbox Church would grow in the grace and truth of Jesus Christ.

What Is The Church?

The church exists for the display of the glory of God because all things exist for His glory. Those of us who trust in and follow Jesus are caught up in something much bigger than ourselves. We have graciously been invited into God’s redemptive purposes in the world.

Since the beginning, God has been creating and calling forth His people for the display of His glory in a grand narrative of redemption and reconciliation. Though creation now suffers the curse of Genesis 3, the gospel is the means by which the world is being made right. The gospel also carries with it the promise of ultimate renewal, a restoration even more glorious than Eden, and thus believers eagerly anticipate the return of Christ. The Church universal (i.e., all believers, everywhere) is the means by which God is fulfilling His purposes in the world (2 Cor 5:17-20). The Church universal is being used to write God’s beautiful and dramatic story of redemption and reconciliation. In light of this reality, the opportunity to join a local church body (i.e., a particular group of believers in a particular locale) is much more than a commitment to consistent attendance or active involvement in community. It is also a sacred call to be involved in the redemptive work of our sovereign God to push back the darkness of a fallen world through the power of the Holy Spirit with the light of His Son, Jesus Christ.

The church is the gathering of the redeemed, the household of God (Eph 2:19), the bride of Christ (Rev 21:2; Rev 21:9) and the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:12-31). 1 Cor 12 speaks of many members within the same body. Just as a human body relies upon mutual dependence of individual members for proper functioning, so the body of Christ requires sacrificial and responsible service by its individual members. As the Scriptures say, “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you’” (1 Cor 12:21). Likewise, a member of the church cannot say to another member that he or she is unnecessary. We all have gifts that differ and are necessary to the body according to the gracious provision of the Holy Spirit (Rom 12:3-8). Contrary to the beliefs of our culture, we need each other.

All members are united to Christ and thus to each other. Unity within the church is expressed in love for God and a love for others-both those within the family and those who are not. Because of the identification of Christ with His church, Christians are expected to display His gospel in a manner which is worthy of Him (Eph 4:1).

Why Membership?

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”-Eph. 2:10

This church exists to prepare and equip the People of God to do every good work that He prepared for them to do.

“Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?”-Amos 3:3

“I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.”-1 Cor 1:10

Unfortunately, today we live in a culture of self-serving, individualistic and prideful mentalities. And this is prevalent even in the church. But when you see the biblical examples of church, you see quite the opposite culture (Acts 2:42-47, Phil. 2:1-4, 1 Pet. 3:8, Gal. 5:13, Rom. 15:1-3).

One of the biggest problems that the Church faces are people who approach Christianity as individuals (“just me and Jesus”), This is in stark contrast to New Testament teaching, where all of Paul’s letters are addressed to a local church (with the exception of the letters to Titus and Timothy).

If the local church body is supposed to model a family, then becoming a member is simply joining the family. Going back to the importance of unity, membership is nothing more than saying: this is who we are, and we want you to be a part of it. Some verses to consider:

“And now, a word to you who are elders in the churches. I, too, am an elder and a witness to the sufferings of Christ. And I, too, will share in his glory when he is revealed to the whole world. As a fellow elder, I appeal to you: Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example.”-1 Pet. 5:1-4

A church family is under the care, watch and leadership of elders. They will be held accountable for the direction they steer the body, and it is no small task that they undertake in shepherding the flock.

“I know that false teachers, like vicious wolves, will come in among you after I leave, not sparing the flock. 30 Even some men from your own group will rise up and distort the truth in order to draw a following.”-Acts 20:29-30

Just because someone shows up at church, that does not mean they are members. Those who commit to come under the elders’ authority and covering as spiritual leaders, those are our flock/members.

This environment of softness and no real hardline accountability that has seeped into Christian culture is not biblical. Elders are called to protect our flock. This also includes church discipline when members are not living for Christ. Consider the following passages:

  • 1 Cor. 5:1-13

  • Matt. 18:15-17

  • 2 Thes. 3:6-15

  • Matthew 10:11-14

  • Titus 3:10

Why does the Bible speak about this?

Rom. 16:17-18 “17 And now I make one more appeal, my dear brothers and sisters. Watch out for people who cause divisions and upset people’s faith by teaching things contrary to what you have been taught. Stay away from them. 18 Such people are not serving Christ our Lord; they are serving their own personal interests. By smooth talk and glowing words they deceive innocent people.”

Statement of Basic Belief

Jesus is the hope of the world. As we read the Scriptures, we see the overarching themes of God’s providence, power and provision to reconcile mankind and the created world to Himself through the Person and work of Jesus Christ. In light of this, we aim to be explicitly Christ-centered in all that we preach, teach and practice.

Membership of a local church is among many things, based upon a solidarity in belief. As a church, we believe the following:

  • The Scriptures are true, authoritative and sufficient (Psa 19:7-11; 2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:20-21).

  • There is only one true God, Creator of heaven and earth, who eternally exists in three distinct Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Deu 6:4; Isa 45:5-6, 46:9-10; John 17:3; 1 Cor 8:4-6; 1 Tim 2:5; Gen 1:26; Psa 45:6-7, 110:1; Matt 3:13-17, 28:17-20; 1 Cor 12:4-6).

  • All things exist for the glory of God (Psalm 148; Prov 16:4; Isaiah 61:3; Rom 11:33-36; 1 Cor 10:31; 2 Cor 5:15; Eph 1:3-14).

  • All humanity, Christ excluded, is sinful by both birth and action (Genesis 6:5; Psalm 51:5; Jer 17:9; Rom 3:23, 5:8, 5:12-21, 7:18; Eph 2:1-3).

  • The deserved penalty for sin is physical and spiritual death (Genesis 2:15-17, 3:19; Rom 5:12, 6:23; James 1:14-15).

  • Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God, was born of a virgin and is both fully God and fully human (Matt 1:20; Luke 2:52; John 1:1-4, John 1:14; Colossians 1:15-20; Heb 1:1-3).

  • Jesus Christ died as the sacrificial substitute to pay the penalty for sin (John 1:29, 10:1-18; Rom 5:8; 1 Cor 15:1-4; 2 Cor 5:21; Galatians 1:4; 1 Pet 3:18).

  • Jesus Christ physically rose from the dead, ascended into heaven and will one day physically return (Matt 28:1-20; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-53; John 1:20-21:25, 14:3; 1 Cor 15:12-34; Acts 1:11; 1 Thes 4:16; Heb 9:28; 1 John 3:2; Rev 1:7).

  • There will be a future physical resurrection of the dead. Only those who turn from sin and to Jesus in faith and repentance will be raised to eternal reward. Those who do not turn from sin and to Jesus will be raised to eternal punishment (Matt 25:31-46; John 5:28-29; Acts 24:15).

  • Only through faith in the Person and work of Jesus Christ and repentance from sin can one be reconciled to God and experience true life and joy (John 3:18, 14:6; Acts 4:12; Rom 3:21-26; 1 Tim 2:5-6).

  • Theological Distinctives

While the doctrines expressed in the Statement of Basic Beliefs are recognized to be universal and primary within the Church, there are a number of secondary beliefs that we are passionate to proclaim. Not all Christians hold these beliefs, but they are nonetheless important and true as we understand the Scriptures. 

Theological Distinctives

Finally, it is imperative to understand the importance of submission to church leadership, to be diligent to preserve unity and peace (Heb. 13:17) and to adhere to the Statement of Basic Beliefs and not be divisive over the theological distinctives.

Biblical Obligations of Sandbox Church

Sandbox Church Elders

As shepherds and overseers of a local church, elders are entrusted with protecting, leading, equipping and caring for the corporate church body and her individual members. The following is a rather extensive overview of the requirements for elders as spelled out within the Scriptures.

The requirements of the elders:

  • To appoint elders and deacons according to the criteria assigned to them in the Scriptures (1 Tim 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Pet 5:1-4).

  • To prayerfully seek God’s will for our church community and steward her resources to the best of our ability based on our study of the Scriptures and following of the Spirit (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet 5:1-4).

  • To care for the church and seek her growth in grace, truth and love (Matt 28:16-20; Eph 4:15-16, Colossians 1:28; James 5:14; 1 Pet 5:1-4).

  • To provide teaching and counsel from the whole of Scripture (Acts 20:27-28; 1 Tim 4:16; 2 Tim 4:1-5; Titus 2:1).

  • To equip the members of the church for the work of ministry (Eph 4:11-16).

  • To be on guard against false teachers and teachings (Matt 7:15; Acts 20:28-31; 1 Tim 1:3-7; 1 John 4:1).

  • To lovingly exercise discipline when necessary, for the glory of God, the good of the one disciplined and the health of the church as a whole (Matt 18:15-20; 1 Cor 5:1-13; Galatians 6:1; James 5:19-20).

  • To set an example and join members in fulfilling the obligations of church family stated below (Phil 3:17; 1 Tim 4:12; Titus 2:7-8; 1 Pet 5:3).

For more information on biblical eldership, click here

Biblical Obligations of the Members to the Sandbox Church Body

As those who have experienced the grace of a life changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ, we have the opportunity to reflect the character of Christ through the pursuit of certain attitudes and actions and the rejection of others. The Scriptures refer to this reality as “living by the Spirit” (Rom 8). The expectations listed below are in no way intended as an addition to the biblical obligations of a believer. Rather, this document functions primarily as an accessible yet non-exhaustive explanation of what the Scriptures teach about the obedience that faith produces.

Expectation of church family members:

  • To submit to the authority of the Scriptures as the final arbiter on all issues (Psa 119; 2 Tim 3:14-17; 2 Pet 1:19-21).

  • To pursue the Lord Jesus Christ through regular Bible reading, prayer, fellowship and practice of spiritual disciplines (Luke 18:1; Acts 17:11; 1 Cor 9:24-27; Eph 5:1-21; 1 Thes 5:12-22).

  • To follow the command and example of Jesus by participating in the ordinances prescribed to His Church:

    • By being baptized after my conversion.

    • By regularly remembering and celebrating the person and work of Christ through communion.

    • To regularly participate in the life of Sandbox Church by attending weekly services, special events, secret church, engaging in life-groups and serving those within and outside of this church (Acts 2:42-47; Heb 10:23-25; Titus 3:14).

    • To steward the resources God has given me, including time, talents, spiritual gifts and finances. This includes regular financial giving, service and participation in community that is sacrificial, cheerful and voluntary (Matt 25:14-30; Rom 12:1-2; 2 Cor 8-9).

    • By God’s grace through the power of the Holy Spirit, to walk in holiness in all areas of life as an act of worship to Jesus Christ (1 Pet 1:13-16. 1 Pet 4:1-3).

    • By making time and placing a high importance to be discipled in the likeness of Jesus (Matt 4:19-20; Luke 6:40; Luke 9:23; Luke 14:33)

    • By making time and placing a high importance on building true community within the Sandbox Family (Matt 10:24-25; Rom 12:4-5; Acts 4:32)

  • Believers should strive to put certain attitudes and actions to death while stirring and stimulating love and good deeds through the Spirit. Below are a few examples of actions addressed in the Scriptures:

    • I will practice complete chastity unless married and, if married, complete fidelity within heterosexual and monogamous marriage. Complete chastity and fidelity means, among other things, that regardless of my marital status, I will pursue purity and abstain from sexually immoral practices such as adultery, premarital sex and pornography (Rom 13:11-14; 1 Cor 6:15-20, 1 Cor 10:8; Eph 5:3; 1 Thes 4:1-8; Heb 13:4).

    • I will seek to preserve the gift of marriage and agree to walk through the steps of marriage reconciliation at Sandbox Church before pursuing divorce from my spouse (Matt 19:1-12; Mark 10:1-12; Luke 16:18; 1 Cor 7:10-11; for the role of the church in the process of divorce, see Paul’s concern for the resolution of legal matters within the assembly of the church in 1 Cor 6).

    • I will refrain from illegal drug use, drunkenness, gossip and other sinful behavior as the Bible dictates (Rom 1:28-32; Rom 13:13; Galatians 5:19-21; Eph 5:18; James 3:3-18).

    • To refrain from such activities that the Scriptures would deem foolish (Rom 14:14-23).

    • To take seriously the responsibility of Christian freedom, especially actions or situations that could present a stumbling block to another (1 Cor 8:1-13).

  • To submit to the discipline of God through His Holy Spirit by:

    • Following the biblical procedures for church discipline where sin is evident in another – the hope of such discipline being repentance and restoration.

    • Receiving righteous and loving discipline when approached biblically by fellow believers (Psalm 141:5; Matt 18:15-20; 1 Cor 5:9-13; Heb 12:5-11).

  • To do the following when I sin:

    • Confess my sin to God and to fellow believers.

    • Repent and seek help to put my sin to death (Rom 8:13; Colossians 3:5; James 5:16; 1 John 1:6-10).

    • To submit to the elders and other appointed leaders of the church and diligently strive for unity and peace within the church (Eph 4:1-3; Heb 13:17; 1 Pet 5:5).

  • To do the following should I leave the church for righteous reasons:

    • To notify the appropriate elder on the campus I attend.

    • To seek another church with which I can carry out my biblical responsibilities as a believer.