First and foremost, a church member is someone who has faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. Without knowing Christ we might take part in religious activities but they won’t change us on the inside. As you read this leaflet you might think, ‘I do believe but I struggle to do some of these things’ or, ‘I do them but not very well’. That’s OK. The important thing is to be clear about what it means to be a member of Christ’s church and then to pray for his help to live this way.
We might think of ‘the church’ as a building (or a denomination), but it is basically a body or family of people where the Spirit of God lives, through Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11-16). Members of this family are called to love each other, no matter what, just as Christ loved us (John 13:34-35). So, if Church membership is not like membership of a club, where you can opt in or out, what does it involve?
- There is only one true God who has revealed himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit
- all created things came into existence and keep existing by the will of God
- the relationship between human beings and God was broken by sin and needs to be restored
- to sin is to think we know better than God and to live as if we don’t need God , with our own ideas of what is right and wrong
- sin alienated us from God and deserves punishment, but in love for us God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, who died in our place and took the punishment we deserved (2 Corinthians 5:21)
- being fully human like us, yet fully God, Jesus achieved forgiveness for us and restored us to a right relationship with God (Colossians 1:21-22)
- Jesus Christ was raised from the dead and now shares God’s reign as Lord of all (Philippians 2:9-11)
- the gift of the Holy Spirit assures us of our restored relationship with God as Father, enables us to grow in character, faith and understanding and makes each of us an indispensable part of his body, the Church, with specific gifts to contribute
- it is Christians’ certain hope that Christ will come again and after final judgment, sin, suffering and death will end and his people will share the Father’s love in eternal joy
Someone who belongs– to God and to each other. Christianity is a shared journey, while faith is personal it is not private. Worshipping regularly together is very important as are the ‘signs’ of belonging- the two sacraments, baptism and communion. All Christians belong to the ‘universal’ or ‘catholic’ church, which encompasses all believers, from every place and time. So are therefore called to belong to the local church in the shape of a congregation.
Someone who worships– the natural expression. ‘Worship’ is not just Sunday services but living our whole lives to the glory of God. However our Sunday service is an important and special time which should be a priority, viewed as ‘church family time’ that ought to be protected.
Someone who prays– the restored relationship. Praying as individuals is important but each church member should have a desire to pray with other believers. Praying together doesn’t always have to be out loud or in big words but is it important that we share in this expression of a restored relationship with God.
Someone who learns– being fed from the Word. Engaging fully with the Bible and seeking to understand more and mature in faith. Reflecting upon the Sunday sermon is important. Also studying the Bible with other members of the church family and reading Scripture on our own are central to spiritual growth.
Someone who serves– living it out. Every follower of Jesus is called to serve him through the Holy Spirit, both in the church and in the world. All believers have gifts for serving others and are called to make a difference. Membership is more than sitting in a pew for an hour a week but a lifestyle and desire tuned into God. Through prayer God can help each person to serve in their unique way to his glory.
Someone who gives– a generous heart. Giving financially is crucial to resourcing God’s work in both the local and wider church and such giving is also a sign that we love him more than money. But giving involves much more than money. It also includes our time and effort, even when this costs us. It is giving ourselves to God and to others.
Someone who tells others– reaching out. If people don’t know that we are Christians by how we live our lives then we discredit the Gospel. Not everyone is gifted to preach but we can all tell others about Jesus. By talking about what is happening in the life of the church, by inviting people along to services and events, by offering to pray for and with them are all ways to express a life that is changed and an opportunity to explain why. While there are direct outreach opportunities within our congregation, each Christian is called to be engaged in their own outreach as well.
Someone who commits– sticking at it. It can often be hard to be a Christian in today’s world. Jesus said that to follow him is costly and demanding. Pressures of life can make commitment to Christ’s church difficult too, but the Bible encourages us to keep meeting together. In this way we can love and support each other to bring honour and glory to Christ in every aspect of our lives, sharing and uniting in his wondrous work.
Help with terminology
A Communicant, sometimes called a ‘full member’ is someone who takes communion and contributes financially to the congregation. Technically only Communicants can call themselves ‘members’ of the church and can therefore cast a vote when required and be involved in the full life of the church.
An Adherent is someone who contributes financially to the congregation but does not take communion. Technically Adherents are not members but would be better described as ‘affiliated to’ or ‘associated with’ the congregation. All Adherents as well as anyone connected with the church in any way are encouraged to come into membership and the full life of the church.
The Kirk Session would encourage all to think upon church membership and pray that a family of God’s people could flourish in Warrenpoint.
Please speak to the Minister or an Elder if you have any Questions.