Church Membership

Joining a congregation can often be confusing for people who are fairly new to faith or to church life.

Here are some questions and answers that may help you.

What is a church?

The church is not a building but a group of people who trust and follow the Lord Jesus Christ.

What is a church member?

A church member is someone who has joined the group by making a public profession of their faith/trust in the Lord Jesus Christ

What does it mean to profess faith for the first time?

These are words you might hear before a communion service/Lord’s supper service when anyone who would like to profess faith/belief is encouraged to speak to one of the elders or to the minister.

To profess faith for the first time is to say publicly before the church that you are trusting Jesus and that you believe your sins are forgiven through what he accomplished on the cross.

Usually, in our practice, someone will meet with the elders to declare this privately to show that they know what this means. The elders will encourage such people to sit at the Lord’s table. ie to take the Lord’s supper.

Of course a Christian is called to profess faith daily before their friends, colleagues and relations and this may have been done before professing publicly in a church setting.

Are there any other conditions to becoming what we will call a communicant member of the church?

Following the practice of the early church in Acts we learn that new Christians were baptised and then ate the Lord’s supper together with other believers .

So we insist on baptism in normal circumstances. “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. (Act 2:41-42 NIV)”

If a person was baptised as an infant or in any other branch of the church of Christ there is no need for re-baptism. Children and adults who have been baptised are recognised as baptised members of the church but who, for their own reasons, may not have professed faith publicly.

Are there expectations from those who are members?

When you profess faith in the Lord Jesus Christ it is our understanding that you do not just join this congregation or even the Free Church of Scotland denomination. You join the church of Christ worldwide. We do not therefore put any obligations on Christians that would not be expected of every Christian worldwide as taught in the Bible.
 The Bible gives guidance as to what is expected of Christian people;

A commitment to worship with fellow believers. (Acts 2v42-46,Hebrews 10v25) Members are expected to attend the Sunday Services in the congregation and either prayer meetings in the congregation or with other Christians as often as possible

A commitment to service.

For our congregation we have developed a mission statement to try and explain key features of who we are. It is “Serving Christ, serving the community, serving the world” .

God has given us gifts and talents to be used to his glory in service. The best way to enjoy church life is to be involved using your gifts as God leads you. It would be good to be engaged in some active service for/with church people once per week as well. There are all kinds of ministries involved in Christian service eg mission, cleaning, visiting the sick, cleaning homes, making clothes, helping at clubs, helping with welcoming people at the door, writing letters to missionaries, organizing and leading parent and toddler groups, youth clubs etc etc)

A commitment to Bible study and prayer.

This is the way to care for your own spiritual health and progress. We develop as Christians as we listen to God in his word and respond in obedience.

“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. (1Pe 2:2-3 NIV)”

A commitment to support the cause of Christ.

The Lord loves a cheerful giver

“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.

Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
(2Co 9:6-7 NIV)”

There is no membership fee and contributions are not compelled but wisdom suggests generosity to the Lord is best practice.

A commitment to being cared for.

When you join the church you are submitting yourself to the care of the leaders God
has placed over the congregation. They are called elders and their task is to care for you. This requires you to share something of your life experience with others and means that you have to commit to allowing others into your life. Elders will not pry into your private lives but like the minister they are willing to help you and give you counsel if they can. They are responsible before God for the souls under their care. They act as under-shepherds to the great Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ. The minister is an elder with responsibilities for preaching and teaching.

Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers--not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. (1Pe 5:2-3 NIV)

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