In the next few weeks we will be welcoming new members at Newland Presbyterian!
What an amazing gift to see our congregation grow, and to see the Lord “adding to our number.” I pray that as our ministry continues to expand numerically, that we will also see God’s ministry in our hearts grow and expand as well.
Here are a few reasons why membership in the church is so important:
- Church Membership is a divine reality. When you profess faith in Christ, and are baptized into the Triune Name, you become part of the “body of Christ.” Meaning, you become a “member” of the body in the same way that a hand or an eye or an ear are members of a person’s body. And, as Paul reminds us when he speaks of the body: we need each other! Eyes can’t grasp what hands do, and ears can’t learn to see.
- This Membership is a gift. A gift from God to you. It is a reality that comes as a necessary gift of grace, and a grace that comes as the means by which God, in God’s wisdom, has chosen to transform your life for the blessing of the world.
- Membership brings covenant relationship. In so many areas of life, we get to pick and choose the folks we want to spend time with, learn from, and enjoy. The church is different. Jesus Christ is the one who chooses. And when Christ calls and gathers people at Newland Presbyterian, it is because He desires for us to receive and learn and give and share in the life of God by the Spirit in company with one another. When our common life is joined and founded upon the rock of Jesus Christ, it brings freedom: freedom to be hurt and then to extend forgiveness; freedom to make mistakes and then to receive grace; freedom to celebrate our successes and then freedom to learn from our failures. The covenant of church membership grounds our relationships in our common salvation and our share in God’s life, not in our vacillating human pride, independence, and frailty.
- Church Membership brings Accountability. Membership at NPC means you have people who are going to hold you accountable. And it means that you will have the incredibly important task of holding others accountable as well. This doesn’t mean we walk around like classroom monitors trying to catch people doing something untoward. It means that, within a covenantal relationship, one founded upon our mutual salvation and calling to share in God’s very life, we get to encourage each other along the way to pursue the high calling that we have received. We get to remind one another of the incredible privilege it is to know God, to experience His love, to be wrapped up in God’s mission of love to the world, which is the unfolding of God’s sovereign plan for all creation, for the entire universe, all of time and space brought together in Christ by the work God has done and calls us to do…and to do together…in commitment to Him and to one another. We’re in this grand story bound up as ONE people. And so we don’t let each other forget the stakes, the goodness, the beauty of the life we’ve been given, and been given to share.
- Church Membership Calls Forth Service. Obvious examples include service to God (worship), service to one another (as acts of love), and service to our community and the world (which can bring greater impact and witness when carried out together). But there is also a practical level. In Presbyterian Church “government,” one cannot serve as an elder (on the Session) or as a deacon, without being first a member of the congregation. In other words, there must first be a place for a person to enter into covenant relationship with God and the church body, before a person can serve as a leader within it. Church membership is a foundational reality that allows for the Spirit’s gifts to be shared fully, nothing held back.
- Membership reminds us that we do not belong to ourselves. It shows us that we belong to God; that we have been bought with a price, and that we have a place in God’s Kingdom, that place and that reality where God joins all of creation in one universal hymn of praise, one common relation of love, one blessed vision of peace, and one unifying experience of the Father, through the Son, and in the Spirit. Church membership sets us free from turning in on ourselves, and opens us to be who we truly are in Jesus Christ.
Of course, the list could go on…
I hope that those of you who are already members of NPC will be reminded of the great gift you’ve been given by God in his calling of you to share in common work, worship, and witness with your brothers and sisters at NPC.
And I hope that those of you who are not yet members will feel encouraged to ask God in your prayers for direction as to whether or not it is time for you to take that step.
If it is time, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call the NPC Office at 828-733-2186, and I’ll look forward to announcing you with the others who are joining in a few short weeks.
And if it is not time, know that I’m grateful that God has led you into our midst, and that my prayer for you is always and only that the Lord’s will be done…
With faith, hope, and love in Christ our Lord,