On March 1, we will begin our Membership Class for the spring. The purpose for this class is to provide information on the key beliefs of Second Presbyterian Church and to provide an opportunity for visitors to enter into our church membership.
We ask that those seeking to join attend the class not only so that they can learn about our church but also so that we can get to know them and begin to incorporate them into our church life. Attending the class does not obligate you to join, and some may wish to attend simply to learn about the Reformed faith and Second Presbyterian Church.
At the end of the class, the Session will be available to meet with prospective members, who join by presenting a credible profession of faith in Jesus Christ and agreeing to fulfill the membership vows as stipulated by the Presbyterian Church in America.
The Biblical Basis for Church Membership
In recent years, I find that many Christians have underestimated the importance of church matters. Many may not understand the biblical basis and calling for Christians to enter into covenant relationship with a local congregation of believers. Let me give some reasons why it is important for you to be a member of a faithful church and perhaps why you should consider joining our congregation:
- The very first thing we see after Pentecost in Acts 2:42ff is that Christians immediately began to gather together. They “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of the bread and the prayers.” The early Christians did not stay at home and say, “I can be a Christian by myself,” but they committed themselves to a local body of fellow Christians.
- In Hebrews 10:25, God commands Christians not to neglect meeting together but to encourage one another, “and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” This teaches at least 3 things: 1) Christians are commanded by God to gather together corporately for the purpose of encouraging one another; 2) Christians gathering together is not to be an infrequent thing, but rather it is to be a regular occurrence; 3) Christians are to encourage one another, which requires knowing one another; and knowing one another implies regular commitment to the same local body of Christians – which again is what church membership signifies.
- In Philippians 1:1, Paul states that he is writing “to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons.” This implies that “all” the Christians (“saints” means those who have believed in Christ and are set apart for holiness) are committed to gathering together regularly in a church with officers (elders and deacons, cf. 1 Tim. 3) appointed or elected to oversee their affairs. When Paul writes to the church in Philippi, he writes to the Christians who have committed to one another there and to their leaders.
- In Hebrews 13:7, Christians are commanded, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls.” This clearly assumes what we know as church membership since this command can only be fulfilled by believers who are under the authority of elders in a local church body. Hebrews 13:7 tells believers to “remember your leaders… and imitate their faith.” Living as believers under godly shepherd-leaders, especially those who are “keeping watch over your souls,” is one of the chief biblical provisions for your perseverance and growth in faith.
In short, just as salvation involves a covenant relationship with God, the life of faith also involves a covenant relationship with other believers under Christ’s authority in the church. To this end, my constant prayer is that Second Presbyterian Church would not only be a place where God’s Word is faithfully taught but also where God’s people are faithfully shepherded.
The more I grow in experience, the more I see how important the second of these is, together with the first. If you have been attending Second Church regularly, I would, therefore, ask you to consider your calling to join the church.
The schedule of the upcoming Membership Class, meeting in Classroom C-209 at 9:45 am, is as follows:
- March 1 The “Solas” of the Reformation
- March 8 The Doctrines of Grace
- March 15 Membership Vows
- March 22 Law and the Gospel
- March 29 Covenant Theology
- April 5 Reformed Worship
- April 19 “Finding Your Place at SPC”
- April 26 Presbyterian Church History
- April 19/26 Session interviews for membership
- May 3 New Members’ Reception & Luncheon
- Class will not meet on Easter Sunday, April 12th.
If you have any questions about our church or church membership, I am simply delighted to answer them. I look forward to getting to know many of our recent visitors better during this class, with thanks to God for the way He is increasing the numbers at our church.
May the Lord bless you all this week.
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Rick Phillips