Church Membership Class
Sunny Hills Community Church
You may download this information in a .pdf document here.
Welcome … we’re glad you’re here!
Thank you for your interest in the Christian Faith and Sunny Hills Community Church! This class is designed to help you understand what the Christian faith is all about, and how Sunny Hills Community Church can help you experience full life in Christ.
Here is the class outline:
1. How to become a Christian.
3. The Purpose-Driven life.
4. Our statement of beliefs.
5. Our purpose and vision.
6. Who we are trying to reach, our “target.”
7. The Sunny Hills strategy.
8. How we organize to get things done.
9. How to become a church member.
Opening prayer: “Dear God, thank You for bringing us together for this special time of learning. Help us to understand Your purpose for my life and how Sunny Hills Community Church can help me develop a deeper faith. Give us the insight and ability to hear You during this class. In Jesus name, amen.”
How to Become a Christian
Admit your need. Romans 3:23, For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Because we are all sinners, we all need forgiveness.
Believe in Christ. Romans 3:25, For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God’s anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us. Believing that Jesus died for us, sacrificing His life for ours, restores a right relationship with God.
Commit yourself to Christ. John 1:12-13, But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn! This is not a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan—this rebirth comes from God. When you commit your life to Christ you are inviting Him to be the Leader and Forgiver of your life. This gives us a spiritual rebirth … salvation.
Here is a sample prayer of commitment: “Dear God, I admit my need for forgiveness. My sin has separated us, and I want a new start with You. So, I accept the sacrifice Jesus made for me on the Cross and I turn from my own way of life to following Jesus as my Leader. I commit my life to Christ and thank You for saving me. Amen.”
After becoming a Christian your “next step” is to be baptized. Why?
? To follow the example set by Christ. Mark 1:9
? Because Christ commands it. Matthew 28:19-20
? It shows that I really am a believer. Acts 18:8
? It illustrates Christ’s burial and resurrection. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, “…Christ died for our sins…He was buried…He was raised on the third day…”
? It illustrates my new life as a Christian. 2 Corinthians 5:17, “When someone becomes a Christian he becomes a brand new person inside. He is not the same anymore. A new life has begun!”
At Sunny Hills Community Church we baptize by immersion (getting dunked completely under water) because …
? Jesus was baptized that way. Matthew 3:16.
? Every baptism in the Bible was by immersion. Acts 8:38-39.
? The word “baptize” means to “dip under water.”
? It best symbolizes a burial and resurrection.
At Sunny Hills Church, it is a membership requirement that every member must have been baptized by immersion after becoming a Christian. The pastor can help make arrangements for you to experience baptism.
The Purpose-Driven Life
Every life is driven by something … the distinctive mark of a Christian is that Jesus Christ is the Leader and Forgiver of his life.
NOTE: You will see this diagram often at Sunny Hills. Besides being our church logo, it is a teaching tool we use to explain the purpose-driven life God wants for us.
The Cross represents the two key relationships we need to experience full life in Christ:
• The vertical line represents our relationship with God.
• The horizontal line represents our relationship with others.
The five sides of the diagram represent the five purposes God has for every life.
• Worship. Living to please God.
• Fellowship. Loving God’s church family.
• Discipleship. Become more and more like Christ.
• Ministry. Serving God by serving others.
• Missions. Sharing the Christian faith with others.
The four areas inside the diagram represent the four areas where we apply our purpose-driven lifestyle: with family, friends, at work, and at play.
You’ll notice the central focus of the diagram is a cross. The Cross reminds us that Jesus gave His life for us so that we might enjoy life at its best. Sunny Hills is a group of people who have discovered the meaning and purpose that knowing Jesus brings to life.
Two key resources used at Sunny Hills are The Purpose Driven Church and The Purpose Driven Life, both written by pastor Rick Warren.
The main thing about Sunny Hills Community Church is that we focus on helping you live out the five key purposes God has given us for our daily life.
Church Word Ordinary Word Helps our Church grow Personal application
Worship Worship Stronger Gives me a power to live on.
Fellowship Connect Warmer Gives me a people to live with.
Discipleship Grow Deeper Gives me principles to live by.
Ministry Serve Broader Gives me a profession to live out.
Evangelism Share Larger Gives me a purpose to live for.
You can see these five purposes in key Bible passages:
The Great Commandment: Mark 12:30-31, Jesus said, “And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’  The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”
• “Loving God” is worship.
• “Loving your neighbor” is ministry.
• Discipleship deepens our relationship with God.
• Fellowship deepens our relationships with God’s family, the church.
• Evangelism helps others to begin loving God.
The Great Commission: Matthew 28:19-20, “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.”
• “I am with you” is worship. Enjoying the presence of God is a part of worship.
• “Baptizing them” is fellowship. Baptism identifies you with our church family.
• “Obey all the commands” is discipleship. Doing what God says helps us grow.
• “Teach them” is ministry. Teaching is one of many ways we can serve others.
• “Go and make disciples” is evangelism. This is the driving force of the church.
God’s Great Gift: John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
• “God’s love” for us is what triggers our love for him, and our worship.
• “Everyone.” Being connected to others who receive Christ is fellowship.
• “He Gave His Son.” God’s pattern of giving prompts our ministry of service.
• “Believes.” Deepening belief is discipleship.
• “Eternal life” is the ultimate product of evangelism.
Our Statement of Beliefs
Sunny Hills Community Church bases its beliefs on the Bible. Here’s what we believe:
1. ABOUT GOD. God is the Creator and Ruler of the universe. He has eternally existed in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These three are co-equal and are one God.
2. ABOUT JESUS CHRIST. Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He is co-equal with the Father. Jesus lived a sinless human life and offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of all people by dying on a cross. He arose from the dead after three days to demonstrate His power over sin and death. He ascended to Heaven’s glory and will return again someday to earth to reign as King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.
3. ABOUT THE HOLY SPIRIT. The Holy Spirit is co-equal with the Father and the Son of God. He is present in the world to make people aware of their need for Jesus Christ. He also lives in every Christian from the moment of salvation. He provides the Christian with power for living, understanding of spiritual truth, and guidance in doing what is right. He gives every believer a spiritual gift when they are saved. As Christians, we seek to live under His control daily.
4. ABOUT THE BIBLE. The Bible is God’s Word to us. It was written by human authors, under the supernatural guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is the supreme source of truth for Christian beliefs and living. Because it is inspired by God, it is the truth without any mixture of error.
5. ABOUT HUMAN BEINGS. People are made in the spiritual image of God, to be like Him in character. People are the supreme object of God’s creation. Although every person has tremendous potential for good, all of us are marred by an attitude of disobedience toward God called “sin”. This attitude separates people from God and causes many problems in life.
6. ABOUT SALVATION. Salvation is God’s free gift to us, but we must accept it. We can never make up for our sin by self-improvement or good works. Only by trusting in Jesus Christ as God’s offer of forgiveness can anyone be saved from sin’s penalty. When we turn from our self-ruled life and turn to Jesus, in faith we are saved. Eternal life begins the moment one receives Jesus Christ into his life by faith.
7. ABOUT ETERNAL SECURITY. Because God gives us eternal life through Jesus Christ, the true believer is secure in that salvation for eternity. If you have been genuinely saved, you cannot “lose” it. Salvation is maintained by the grace and power of God, not by the self-effort of the Christian. It is the grace and keeping power of God that gives us this security.
8. ABOUT ETERNITY. People were created to exist forever. We will either exist eternally separated from God by sin or eternally with God through forgiveness and salvation. To be eternally separated from God is Hell. To be eternally in union with Him is eternal life. Heaven and Hell are real places of eternal existence.
These beliefs are consistent with the main beliefs of the major denominations: Baptist, Methodists, Catholics, Church of God, Lutherans, etc…
Every church tends to emphasize certain teachings or have “favorite” doctrines. Sunny Hills is a bit different in that we list “essential beliefs” (in the statement above) and don’t get hung up on details that are difficult to understand.
Where do you get your beliefs? We use the Bible as our basis of faith and practice.
What kind of Bible do you use? Sunny Hills recommends the “New Living Translation” because it is accurate and easy to read. You may bring and use any Bible version you like.
Is your church “Pentecostal”? No. We’re more akin to Baptists than Pentecostals.
Is your church “fundamentalist,” “liberal”, “conservative”, or what? It’s hard to label Sunny Hills Community Church because these words mean different things to different people. We adhere closely to the teachings of the Bible and we’re passionate about loving others. If pressed to attach a label we might try “purpose-driven evangelical neo-baptist.”
Our Purpose and Vision
Sunny Hills was established in 1999 as a mission project of the Virginia Baptist Mission Board. Alan Wilder is the founding pastor. There were already more than 150 churches in Wythe County, why plant another one? Pastor Wilder had a vision to create a new church that would help ordinary people reach their full potential in Christ.
Our purpose statement: The purpose of Sunny Hills Community Church is to help ordinary people experience full life in Christ.
Our vision statement: Our vision is to influence our community by changing lives through the ministry of a church that is relevant to the daily life of ordinary people
We determined from the very beginning that we would focus our energies on helping people fulfill the five life purposes: worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and missions. That’s ALL WE DO. We are united around these five essential tasks. 1 Corinthians 1:10, “Now, dear brothers and sisters, I appeal to you by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ to stop arguing among yourselves. Let there be real harmony so there won’t be divisions in the church. I plead with you to be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.”
Because we are purpose-driven we don’t get involved in too many extra things … we like to stick to the basics. Some churches have favorite teachings:
? The book of Revelation and Bible prophecy.
? Charismatic gifts, sign-gifts, health and wealth teachings.
? Political action groups, abortion-related movements, or social causes.
At Sunny Hills we stick to the five purposes and focus on energies on them … not these noteworthy issues or causes.
Who We Are Trying to Reach: Our “Target.”
Sunny Hills is unique in WHO it is we are here to reach. We have a specific TARGET in mind as we minister and work in this community, we call them “the Widgets.”
Meet the Widget Family. They are a “typical” family living here in Wytheville. There’s Wally Widget, his wife, Wilma, and the kids, Wesley and Wanda. Here are some characteristics of this family:
• Limited religious heritage … negative image of “the church.”
• Hard working, pursuing “the American dream.”
• Value kids and family time.
• Very busy, not much time for church stuff.
• Wants to make a difference in the world.
• Interested in spiritual things.
The Widgets are fairly satisfied with life. They hope to get into a bigger house one day, and maybe take a trip to Disney World. Like everybody else, things could be better, but they’re trying their best. Honestly, they don’t see church as being all that relevant to their daily life. The services can get pretty dull sometimes, and they just never seem to “fit in” with the church crowd.
Sunny Hills Church is designed from the start with to help this family experience full life in Christ. This means our church is “seeker sensitive” and determined to understand them and show them where Jesus is relevant to their daily life.
The Sunny Hills Strategy
An early leader in the church was the Apostle Paul. He went from place to place spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ to others. In 1 Corinthians 9:22-23 he shares his motivation and strategy in dealing with people: “I try to find common ground with everyone so that I might bring them to Christ. I do all this to spread the Good News, and in doing so I enjoy its blessings.”
Paul was eager to explain the message of salvation in ways others could easily understand. He went out of his way to find common ground with people. A modern word for this would be “relevance.” Paul made sure his message to people connected with their daily life.
The Three R’s at Sunny Hills
• Connect life needs with God’s truth.
• Simple, easy to understand teaching.
• Focus on family, friends, work, and play.
• Casual and comfortable atmosphere.
• No pretense or “putting on,” just be yourself.
• Honest approach to discovering faith. No manipulation, false-guilt, or hyper-emotion.
• Expect people to respond to God’s leadership.
• Give tools to let people grow on their own.
• Low pressure, high commitment standards.
If our church is relevant, real, and responsible we will reach many people for Christ. Our church wants to continue growing by offering services that connect the lives of ordinary people with the unchanging truth of God.
Every church has core values that help to maintain it’s focus and mission. Our core values are:
• Obedience to Jesus Christ is our key priority.
• We will focus on the five purposes of the church, that’s all.
• People matter to God, therefore we will do whatever it takes to reach them for Christ.
• Excellence attracts. We want the best for our church family.
• We want to build strong families, and especially strong husbands and fathers.
• We will start, stay, and finish on the positive.
• Our church must be culturally relevant while remaining doctrinally pure.
• Loving relationships should be evident in every area of church life.
How We Organize to Get Things Done
Every church has some kind of structure and way they get things done. Sunny Hills Community Church has a structure and organization as well.
1 Corinthians 14:33, 40, “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace, as in all the other churches. But be sure that everything is done properly and in order.”
Culture, business practices, or even denominational traditions should not determine the structure of the church. The nature of the Church determines its structure.
1. The Church is a fellowship.
Acts 2:42, They joined with the other believers and devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, sharing in the Lord’s Supper and in prayer.
A top priority in a fellowship is harmony and unity. Ephesians 4:3, “Always keep yourselves united in the Holy Spirit, and bind yourselves together with peace.” A good structure promotes unity and downplays differences. At Sunny Hills Community Church business-type meetings are kept to a minimum.
2. The Church is a family.
1 Peter 3:8, “Finally, all of you should be of one mind, full of sympathy toward each other, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds.” The church is about relationships and love, not rules and regulations. Sunny Hills Community Church does not maintain a long list of rules and policies that might limit our church’s growth.
3. The Church is a body.
Romans 12:4-6, Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function,  so it is with Christ’s body. We are all parts of his one body, and each of us has different work to do. And since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others.  God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out when you have faith that God is speaking through you.
We are a body — not a business! We are an organism — not an organization, therefore, we function on the basis of spiritual gifts, not elected offices. At Sunny Hills the people who have received a passion and gift for a certain ministry are given the leadership for that ministry. This means our church does not use committees that make decisions for others to follow … those who are actually doing the work make the decisions.
We believe every Christian is a minister and should be actively involved in a ministry through a local church. If God gives you a great idea for a ministry here at Sunny Hills, we will encourage and equip you to be the beginner and leader of that ministry.
4. The Church is a flock.
This was Jesus’ favorite description of the Church (See: John 10:1-30; Matthew 26:31; Matthew 25:33) therefore it is cared for and led by a shepherd. Three different terms are used in the New Testament to refer to the same church leader:
• “POIMEN”: pastor (shepherd)
• “PRESBUTEROS”: elder (spiritually mature)
• “EPISCOPOS”: bishop (manager)
1 Peter 5:1-2, “To the elders among you….Be shepherds of God’s flock… serving as overseers…”
At Sunny Hills Community Church the pastor is the key leader in the church. He equips the members for ministry and service through his teaching ministry. The pastor gives general oversight to the vision and direction of the church while individual ministry leaders direct the details of their ministry.
Sunny Hills is a local, independent, self-governing church which has chosen to affiliate with other churches to extend it’s ministry and enjoy mutual support. Our partners include:
The Highlands Baptist Association is a group of churches in the New River Valley that cooperate in missions projects at Radford University, Virginia Tech, and across the region.
The Baptist General Association of Virginia is a group of churches that fellowship together with the goal of sharing the Good News of Jesus across our state. www.vbmb.org.
The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is the nations largest protestant denomination with more than 50,000 churches that cooperate together in a worldwide missionary effort.
Is Sunny Hills a “Baptist” church? Yes, we certainly share a common theology and missionary zeal with other Baptists … but we’ve chosen not to put “Baptist” in our name because our main focus is not being “Baptist,” but reaching out into the entire community.
How to Become a Member of Sunny Hills Community Church
1. Understand the meaning of membership.
The difference between “attenders” and “members” can be summed up in one word: Commitment. Being a member at Sunny Hills says “I’m on the team and ready to go!”
2. Understand what is expected of me as a member.
At Sunny Hills Church we never ask our members to do more than the Bible clearly teaches. We only expect our members to do what the Bible expects every Christian to do. These responsibilities are spelled out in the Membership Agreement.
3. Are you qualified to be a member?
To be a member of Sunny Hills Community Church you must:
• Have become a Christian by inviting Jesus to be the leader and forgiver of your life.
• Have been baptized by immersion after you became a Christian (or agree to be baptized by immersion through Sunny Hills Community Church).
• Agree with the general beliefs, purpose, and strategy of Sunny Hills Community Church.
• Sign the members agreement.
Membership at Sunny Hills is open to anyone who meets all four of these requirements. There is no vote or other process to go through. While membership in a local church is a key tool God uses to mature us … church membership is not required to be a Christian or go to heaven. You can enjoy almost all of the benefits of Sunny Hills Church without being an official member.
NOTE: Only members of the church may attend business meetings, vote on the church budget, call or dismiss the Senior Pastor, amend the Constitution and By-laws, be a trustee, or make decisions regarding the purchase of land or buildings.
Membership at Sunny Hills represents your commitment to express your faith in the context of our church family. If your commitment to Sunny Hills changes (because you move away, move to another church, etc.) your membership status at Sunny Hills will end.
The Sunny Hills Community Church Membership Agreement
Having received Christ as my Lord and Savior and having been baptized, and being in agreement with the Sunny Hills Church statements, strategy, and structure, I now feel led by the Holy Spirit to unite with the Sunny Hills Church family. In doing so, I commit myself to God and to the other members to do the following:
1. I will protect the unity of my church.
• By acting in love toward other members.
• By refusing to gossip.
• By following the leaders.
Romans 14:19, Ephesians 4:29, Hebrews 13:17.
2. I will share the responsibility of my church.
• By praying for its growth.
• By inviting the unchurched to attend.
• By warmly welcoming those who visit.
1 Thessalonians 1:1-2, Luke 14:23, Romans 15:7
3. I will serve the ministry of my church.
• By discovering my gifts and talents.
• By being equipped to serve by my pastors.
• By developing a servant’s heart.
1 Peter 4:10, Ephesians 4:11-12, Philippians 2:4-7.
4. I WILL SUPPORT THE TESTIMONY OF MY CHURCH
• By attending faithfully
• By living a Godly life
• By giving regularly
Hebrews 10:25, Philippians 1:27, 1 Corinthians 16:2.