Information about becoming a Church Member (Taken from the pastoral letter Oct 2014)
A few people, who have been attending the church a bit longer, have recently asked me for more information about membership. Consequently we, as a church, were delighted to publically welcome more friends into membership last month (please do remember to pray for them).
You might wonder: What is a member? Why do we need it? Am I still welcome if I’m not a member? Yes, we do have membership here, but you are still very welcome to our services whether you are a member or not!
Let me tell you a little bit about membership. The Bible speaks of the church in two senses. There is the “universal Church”, that is all the people of God, to whom we automatically belong when we come to know Christ as our Saviour and Lord. But it also speaks of the “local church” saying that every Christian should take an active part in a local gathering. So if you have become a Christian recently, or have moved into the area you definitely should join a local church. Becoming a member of Christ Church is a clear and definite way of saying that you believe this is the particular church the Lord wants you to belong to.
Christ Church is a Baptist and United Reformed Church. We believe the Bible to be God’s word. We believe that everyone needs to come into a new relationship with God, which is only possible through trusting in the death and resurrection of Jesus for our sake. We also believe that we have a duty and privilege to tell others about this and we are committed to proclaiming Jesus’ love.
We welcome everyone to our activities however it is important that we know who is committed to the wider life of the church. When someone becomes a member, we know that we can count on their active involvement. Clearly you might already be committed to the life of Christ Church – so then why not do it “officially”? It is those who have expressed this commitment and become members who have the responsibility before the Lord to prayerfully make decisions together at church meetings.
The church to join is the one where, as you pray about it, you feel that you will grow in relationship with the Lord, you feel that you both give and receive from other members spiritually, and you can feel enthusiastic about what the church is doing practically. The final decision in the life of the church should be made when the members are prayerfully gathered together.
In membership we’re not only wanting our own spiritual growth, but also the growth of other members of the church, and the extension of God’s kingdom in this community. It means using the gifts that God, by His Spirit, has given us, being keen to help, support and build up members in the Lord, as well as giving financially as the Lord leads us.
Obviously some will be able to do more than others, but every member should be willing to play the fullest part they can. This should include being a regular member in Sunday worship and prayerfully attending the church meetings (approximately 6 or 7 annually). The responsibility of membership really matters. We have some “Guidelines for Membership” – these are the things that we all AIM and HOPE but recognise we might not always do them - that’s why it has words like “seek”, “try”, “whenever possible” ….
·Continuallyseek to live a Christ like life, which is consistent with the gospel (Matt. 5:1-16, Eph. 4:1-3).
· Tryto spend some time every day seeking God in prayer and reading the Bible (Matt. 6:5-6, 1 Tim. 2:1-4).
·Come expectantly and regularly to corporate weekly worship and whenever possible attend the monthly Communion service (John 4:23-24, Heb. 10:22-25).
·Seek to share the good news of Jesus Christ in word and deed and to invite others to follow Christ (Mark 6:7, Matt. 28:9-20).
·Give regularly and generously as possible to the work of God at home and overseas (Luke 6:38, Acts 11: 27-30).
· Livewith others inside and outside the church in an attitude of love and forgiveness (Matt. 5:23-24, John 17:20-21).
·Takepart in the life of the church according to my calling, gifts and opportunities (Matt. 24:45-46, Rom. 12:6-8).
·Acceptpersonal responsibility for the government of the church by being present whenever possible at the church meeting (Acts 6:1-5, 15:12-22).
If you have prayerfully considered membership then do speak to me or our Church Secretary, Roger Oram, so that I can discuss it with you. If together we think it’s the right time then, on behalf of the church, some other members will visit you. We will be seeking to confirm that you have a living relationship with Jesus, and that you are convinced that God wants you to belong to Christ Church. We will also begin, with you, to prayerfully consider the unique contribution that you will be able to bring to the church family. The same members then tell the members at the next church meeting about you and if the membership is in agreement, you would be publicly welcomed into membership at the next suitable communion service.
I hope that makes sense. Do come and speak to me if you have any questions. I would be pleased to chat with you over a cup of tea or coffee!
PS. Thanks to those who have provided documents and chatted with me to help me put this month’s letter together.