Membership is not something on paper; it is something living and active - being a vital part of the body of Christ. Someone wrote years ago, "He who would have God as his Father must have the Church as His mother."
Vows Made at Profession of Faith
The following questions must be answered in the affirmative by people at their Profession of Faith. Those who become members of the Church, having already professed their faith similarly in another Reformed/Presbyterian Church, must be of the same mind.
- Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God sent to redeem the world? Do you love and trust Him as the one who saves you from your sin, and do you with repentance and joy embrace Him as Lord of your life?
- Do you believe that the Bible is the Word of God revealing Christ and His redemption, and that the confessions of this Church faithfully reflect this revelation?
- Do you accept the gracious promises of God sealed to you in your baptism and do you affirm your union with Christ and His Church which your baptism signifies?
- Do you promise to do all you can, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to strengthen your love and commitment to Christ by sharing faithfully in the life of the Church, honouring and submitting to its authority, and do you join with the people of God in doing the work of the Lord everywhere?
Privileges of Church Membership
In the covenant community there are both privileges and responsibilities that we should all take seriously. The chief privileges are:
- To worship the Lord and consume the means of Grace including the Lord's Supper, to have the sign of God's covenant placed upon one's children, and to share fully in the fellowship of believers;
- To participate fully in the activities and ministries of the Church, using one's God-given gifts for the up-building of the body of Christ (e.g. evangelism, music, teaching, ministry etc);
- To have a right to the aid, help and guidance of the Church in both spiritual and physical/material matters;
- To have a voice in the management of Church affairs.
Responsibilities of Church Membership
The basic responsibilities may be summarized as follows:
- To worship the Lord and consume the means of Grace including the Lord's Supper, to have the sign of God's covenant placed upon one's children and to share fully in the fellowship of believers;
- To honour God in the whole of life, seeking to live a godly and holy life and fostering a living relationship with Christ through prayer and Scripture reading;
- To use one’s gifts for the building up of Christ’s church and kingdom, proclaiming the gospel to unbelievers and encouraging and helping one's Christian brothers and sisters;
- To support financially the work and ministry of the Church and kingdom;
- To honour the elders and deacons of the Church, to receive their pastoral care and, if one should become delinquent either in doctrine or life, to submit to their admonition and discipline;
- To exercise the right to vote in Church matters in a prayerful and Biblical way.
Expectations of Members
In practical terms, the day to day commitment from members is:
- Regular attendance at both worship services held each Sunday unless providentially hindered. Reformed churches have traditionally called the congregation to worship twice on the Lord's Day. Such worship and practice is no less beneficial or necessary today in NZ than ever before anywhere else;
- Regular participation in the Lord's Supper.
- Parents are expected to request baptism for their children "in a regular worship service as soon as feasible" (Church Order);
- Regular attendance by baptized members at Catechism classes;
- We strongly encourage involvement in the fortnightly Bible Study so that there is the opportunity to get to know others, grow together in the faith and, by this fellowship, be better able to fulfill the law of Christ and carry one another’s burdens, weeping with those that weep and rejoicing with those that rejoice;
- We strongly encourage the use of one's gifts in some area of Church life (serving on a committee, helping with music, using gifts of administration or helping others in practical ways...);
- Children who are brought up to be participants in the life of the Church and shown the way by the example of their parents are far more likely to remain faithful and living members of the Church.
How to Become a Member
Because we take membership seriously we usually allow time in admitting people to membership. This timeframe varies, depending on the background and situation of the person involved. We seek to work with each person's situation for what it is rather than applying simple rules. Generally, however, the following steps are taken:
- If a person is new to the Christian faith and has not been a member of a Church before, they will receive instruction in the basics of the faith. One then meet with the elders and be admitted into membership by professing their faith publicly in a worship service. This is also the general procedure for young people who have been raised in the Church. They are encouraged to profess their faith when they show a genuine commitment to the Lord and sufficient maturity to take full membership in the church seriously;
- If a person comes from one of our sister Churches, they are usually received into membership when their transfer membership papers have been received from their previous Church. They are welcomed publicly in a worship service;
- If a person comes from a non-sister Church, time is generally given for them to get to know the congregation and for us to get to know them. The elders will visit with them, seeking particularly to inquire about their faith and beliefs. Membership papers from their previous Church are requested. When (if) the Session deems it appropriate, they are welcomed into membership in a worship service by publicly professing their faith.