Baptism and Church Membership 

Chad A. Edgington and the congregation of FBCO

This is an exciting time to be a member of First Baptist Church, and we are thankful that the Lord continues to grow our church in many ways.  It is a blessing to serve God in the mission field of Olney, Texas, with these brothers and sisters of all ages, backgrounds, and occupations. Whether it is First Baptist Olney or someplace else, my prayer is that God would show you where to commit yourself as a member of a local church. Please take the time to carefully read and listen to the resources on this page if you are interested in joining the church.
Those who join this church become jointly responsible for whether or not this congretation continues to faithfully proclaim the gospel through our words and our witness. One dau we will stand before God and give an account for how we used our authority as members of this church. Memebers should not sit back and stay anonymous, doing little more than showing up for a few hours on Sunday. Members are expected to jump in with the hard and rewarding work of studying the gospel, building relationships, and making disciples. We need more hands for the harvest! We hope you will join us in that work. If you desire to join our church, please speak with me and let me know you are interested in learning more.¹
– Brother Chad         
¹adapted from material produced by 9Marks
On April 15, 2018, the congregation of FBCO approved the following process for receiving new members into the church:
Step 1- Membership Class

Anyone desiring baptism or membership will attend a class that covers baptism, our church statement of faith, the biblical expectations of members which are outlined in our church covenant, Baptist distinctives (how we are different than other denominations), and other pertinent information about our church. 
If you are interested in taking the class, please contact Brother Chad and he will schedule a class for you. 
Step 2- Interview

If, upon completion of the membership class, you still desire to be baptized and/or join the church, you  will attend a brief meeting with the pastor and at least one other member of the congregation (most likely a deacon and his wife). The purpose of the meeting is to allow those desiring membership to share their Christian testimony, which is just the story of how a Christian person came to trust in Jesus for salvation. Those who meet with the candidate will be the ones who recommend the candidate for membership at the next Church Reporting Fellowship.

Step 3- Congregational Vote

During the Church Reporting Fellowship, a vote will be taken on candidates for membership. Candidates who have been baptized according to scripture (immersion following a profession of faith) will be admitted into membership immediately. Those who have not will be admitted once they have been baptized in accordance with our understanding of scripture.

As stated in our constitution and bylaws, if a candidate is joining by letter from another church of like faith and order, they will be admitted upon receipt of a letter of recommendation from their former church.  Following the church vote, those received by promise of letter shall enjoy the full privileges and responsibilities of membership.

Membership Helps

On May 28, 2017 and June 4, 2017 our Pastor, Brother Chad, preached two messages on Church membership.  If you are interested joining First Baptist Church of Olney, Texas, these are great messages that will give you an introduction to how we think about church membership at First Baptist Church.  You can listen to these messages by clicking below!

Sermon Audio: Why Should I Join Your Church, Part 1 – Pastor Chad A. Edgington (5.28.2017)

Sermon Audio: Why Should I Join Your Church, Part 2 – Pastor Chad A. Edgington (6.4.2017)

The pastor has also prepared an annotated church covenant that explains how each part of the covenant applies to our lives. You may download the annotated church covenant by clicking here.
Baptism Helps
If you would like to know more about baptism, we suggest you read the small book called Understanding Baptism by Bobby Jamison (B&H Publishing, 2016). You may order the book here. We also have several copies of the book at the church you may borrow in the bookshelf in the lobby.
What About Baptism and Membership for Children? 
We know that Jesus loves and saves children. However, we are very careful at FBCO as we steward the souls of our little ones to make sure we baptize possessors of faith, not just professors of faith. The question of baptism and church membership for children is considered on a case by case basis because all children do not mature in their understanding of the gospel in the same way. Parents, the children, and the pastor will work together to determine whether the child has made a credible profession of faith. 
In January of 2022, the pastor delivered an important presentation to our parents on this issue. You may listen to the audio of this presentation by clicking here. You may also view the presentation slides by clicking here. 

FBCO F.A.Q. About Membership & Baptism

I was baptized as an infant. That baptism is very meaningful to me.  Do I have to be baptized to Join?

Yes. We do not believe that infant baptism is a scriptural baptism. If we did, we would baptize infants! While we recognize that there are many brothers and sisters in Christ that faithfully serve the Lord in other denominations, we disagree with them on this issue, and we believe it is important. We believe that if a person is baptized before they are a converted, it is not a biblical baptism. That does not mean that your former baptism was not important or meaningful. We do not disparage or condemn other faith traditions. We also do not condemn your parents or your former church for allowing you to be baptized as an infant. However, we believe it is reasonable to ask those who desire to join our church to conform to, and endorse, our understanding of baptism. Otherwise, we would encourage you to attend a church that agrees with your convictions on this matter. 

I was baptized as a believer, but I was sprinkled.  Do I have to be baptized again to Join?

Yes. We believe that the proper mode of baptism is complete immersion in water. It may also be that you were sprinkled by a church that holds to a sacramental rather than symbolic view of baptism. The sacramental view holds that baptism is a necessary part of salvation. The symbolic view holds that baptism is a testimony and an outward picture of an inward change. We believe that the sacramental view distorts the gospel, and thus it is not scriptural baptism.

I was baptized as a believer in the Church of Christ. Do I have to be baptized again to Join?

Yes.  The Church of Christ holds to a sacramental rather than symbolic view of baptism.  Even though they are correct in totally immersing a candidate for baptism, they teach that baptism is a requirement for salvation.  We believe this distorts of the gospel. Our only hope of salvation is trusting in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. While we love and respect our friends in the Church of Christ, we believe their teaching on this matter is wrong (they believe we are wrong too!). By requiring you be baptized again, we are not proclaiming that you were not saved when you were baptized. You may not have understood that the church baptizing you was considering that your baptism was necessary for your salvation. However, there are two aspects to baptism. The first is what the candidate is declaring when they are baptized. The second is what the church is proclaiming. If the church baptizing you taught that baptism, or anything else, is required to be joined to Christ, then your baptism was an expression of what we believe to be errant teaching. Although it may seem like a hassle to ask people to be baptized again, we believe that being as accurate and clear about the true gospel is that important.  You’re baptism will serve to affirm the doctrine and understanding of salvation and baptism held in this church. We believe it is reasonable to ask those who desire to join our church to conform to, and endorse, our understanding of baptism. Otherwise, we would encourage you to attend a church that agrees with your convictions on this matter.

I was baptized, in a local church, by immersion in water, following my conversion, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, to show my faith in the crucified, buried, and risen savior, and as a representation of my death to sin and my resurrection to a new life. Do I have to be baptized again?


I was baptized after I made a profession of faith in a local church that practiced scriptural baptism, but was truly converted after my baptism.  Do I have to be baptized again?

Yes.  Any baptism that is conducted prior to salvation is not actually a baptism. You must be truly converted before you are baptized. 

Your church has a more involved process for membership than I have experienced at other Southern Baptist Churches. What’s the deal?

In 2017 a committee was formed to study our membership practices and to make any recommendations to the church for changes in our practices that would move our congregation more toward a meaningful understanding of church membership. In the past our church has had more relaxed standards for baptizing and admitting people to membership (as most Southern Baptist churches do), at least partially as a result of those practices, we have far more people on our church roll than who actively participate in the life of the church.  This is evidence that we have not done a good job educating people on what it means to be committed to Christ and the local church.  The membership process is intended to discourage those who do not plan to be committed church members of FBCO from joining.  It is also intended to identify those who do not understand the Gospel and to spend time with them to make sure they are converted before we make them members of this local body. 

Ultimately it is the duty of the congregation to accept and dismiss members.  The membership process helps the congregation make a good decision in accepting members. When the church receives a member, we are, as best as we are able, telling that person that we believe they are saved. We do not want to give people false assurance that they are saved. That would be the most unloving thing we could do.     

I have been divorced and remarried. Can I still join the church?

The church has a strong section of our statement of faith regarding marriage and the family. We believe in the traditional Christian understanding of human sexuality and marriage. Marriage was created by God. He intends for marriage to be between one man and one woman for life. We want our church to be a place where marriages thrive as both the husband and the wife grow in Christ. However, we don’t live in a perfect world.  Divorce happens, sin happens, sexual sin happens, and the circumstances of each divorce, and re-marriage, are all very different. Divorce and remarriage issues do not automatically disqualify anyone from membership. Even if you were the party most at fault in a messy divorce, the good news is that God forgives those who seek him in repentance and faith. Unless you indicate otherwise, we will assume that Christians who desire to join our church have repented and sought forgiveness for sins committed in relation to a divorce, infidelity, and/or remarriage. To the extent that this is a difficult and sensitive topic, if there are unresolved spiritual issues related to your divorce or remarriage, we encourage you to speak with the pastor for biblical counseling.

What if I am not married to the person I am living with? Can I still join the church?

No. Co-habitation has become a difficult issue in relation to church membership because it is so common in our culture. Again, we hold to the traditional biblical sexual ethic at FBCO. The Bible teaches that permissible sexual relationships are absolutely confined to marriages between one man and one woman for life. Co-habitation, at the very least, gives the appearance to a lost world that you are living a life contrary to the clear rule of scripture in this area. We ask that singles who are co-habituating either move into separate dwellings or get married prior to being received as members. We want God’s best for all our members, and we believe that there is nothing more beautiful than a Christian home. We do acknowledge that some marriages are informal (common law marriage). To protect the witness of the church in the community, however, we ask the informally married couple to file a Declaration of Informal Marriage in the County Clerk’s office prior to any vote of the congregation on membership. We do not judge anyone and we welcome everyone at FBCO, but when it comes to formal membership in the church, it is important for us to strive for holiness in every areas of our lives. We assume, though, that anyone who wants to join FBCO will happily submit to the teachings of Scripture. Every member of the church is expected live in a constant state of repentance and change and agreement with God’s Word. It is counter-intuitive to join a church if you do not believe the same things the church proclaims about marriage, divorce, sexuality, or co-habitation.