What is “Church Membership”?
Generally speaking, the practice of membership involves making some form of commitment to an organization in return for certain privileges. Most people already “belong” as members to one or more organizations such as sports teams, volunteer groups, charities, PTOs, Rotary clubs and the Automobile Association of America (AAA). With church membership, this exchange of commitments and privileges is primarily spiritual in nature. In Ephesians 5, the Apostle Paul likens the relationship between Christ and his church to a marriage. Participation in this relationship is a profound privilege that churches have historically formalized with the taking of membership vows.
The specific form of church membership practiced by FPCNS is rooted in Scripture. The book of Acts states on several occasions that people were “added to the church” while other New Testament books offer directions, guidelines, responsibilities, and even organizational structures for the early church. Although actual steps to becoming a member are never described in detail, the existence of formal commitments and privileges regarding membership in the first century church is plainly obvious.
When people choose to become members of FPCNS, they make a commitment to participate along with other members in the church’s worship and service activities. In obedience to Scripture, the ordained leaders of the church (pastors, elders, and deacons) in turn provide spiritual and material care for its members. In addition to this care, members receive a voting interest in major congregational decisions. Membership is not a legally binding contract and does not involve any formal financial commitment on the part of either the church or its members.
While membership does not imply any mandatory activities other than regular attendance of worship services, members are encouraged to serve God through participation in the church’s ministries as their availability allows.
How do people become members?
Prospective new members attend a series of membership classes taught by the pastors and/or elders. The classes describe in detail the church’s major beliefs, organizational characteristics, and the Biblical basis for each of the membership vows. The five vows are summarized as follows:
- Do you believe that the Bible, consisting of the Old and New Testaments, is the Word of God?
- Do you believe that the God of the Bible – Father, Son, and Spirit – is the one and only living and true God
- Do you acknowledge that you are sinful and do you put your trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation?
- Do you acknowledge that Jesus Christ is not only your Savior, but also your Lord, and promise to serve him to the best of your ability?
- Do you promise to participate in the church’s worship and service and to be accountable to it in doctrine and life?
For information about our membership course, “Discover FPC”, click here.
If you are interested in attending, please contact the church office at 978-774-4680.
The Lord Jesus Christ instituted baptism as a covenant sign and seal for his church. The Lord uses baptism to portray to us that we and our children are conceived and born in sin and need to be cleansed. He uses it to witness to us forgiveness of sins and the bestowal of all the gifts of salvation through union with Christ. Baptism with water signifies and seals cleansing from sin by the blood and the Spirit of Christ, together with our death to sin and our resurrection unto newness of life by virtue of the death and resurrection of Christ. Adults and children who are able to make their profession of faith may be baptized a the time of their membership vows (see membership above).
The time of the outward application of the sign does not necessarily coincide with the inward work of the Holy Spirit which the sign represents . The sign is for believing parents and their children as a part of the covenant community.
For a child to be presented for baptism, at least one parent must be a communicant member of the Church, in good standing, normally of the local congregation. In order to present a child for baptism, parents should make prior arrangements with the session. Before presentation for baptism, the session shall ensure that instruction has been given to the parent(s) as to the nature, privileges, and responsibilities of baptism for the parents and the child.