What is Church Membership?

The Five Membership Commitments

What is church membership?

In the PCA Book of Church Order, the chapter on membership is entitled, “Admission of Persons to Sealing Ordinances.” That sounds important, but probably illicits more blank stares than recognition and familiarity.

Sealing Ordinances are elements of worship which we have been commanded to perform (hence: “orders” or an ordinance). A “seal” is something which attests to the validity of a contract or covenant. A seal can be a signature or stamp. So, a “sealing ordinance” is an order which performs the purpose of “sealing” a promise.

Sealing Ordinances are the two sacraments which we celebrate as Christians and which have been given to use by Jesus to serve as attestation to the validity of His promise to save all who profess faith in Him. The two sacraments of the church are: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. These sacraments are gifts to the church to comfort and provide for the church. As a seal between two parties, both must be in agreement as to the nature and extent of the promises which is why the sacraments are overseen by the Session so that integrity is maintained. Church membership then, is merely admitting persons to right participation in the sacraments.

Membership is not salvation

Membership in the church does not save one in much the same way participating in the sacraments cannot save you. However, not entering into the mutual promises of commitment to the Body of Christ is much like denying oneself the opportunity to receive what Christ has commanded and given for our good. The question is not “Why become a member?” The question is, “What is keeping you from a committed participation in the Body of Christ – the Church?”

When one becomes a member one makes the following vows before the congregation and before God:

  1. Do you acknowledge yourself to be a sinner in the sight of God, justly deserving His displeasure, and without hope save in His sovereign mercy?
  2. Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and Savior of sinners, and do ou receive and rest upon Him alone for salvation as He is offered in the Gospel?
  3. Do you now resolve and promise, in humble reliance upon the grace of the Holy Spirit, that you will endeavor to live as becomes the followers of Christ?
  4. Do you promise to support the Church in its worship and work to the best of your ability? and lastly,
  5. Do you submit yourself to the government and discipline of the Church, and promise to study its purity and peace?

Notice that the first two vows contain a very basic theology: “I am a sinner in need of a Savior, and Jesus is the Savior of sinners.” The later three vows speak to our behavior before a watching world as we bear the Name, Christian:

  • endeavor to live as a Christian,
  • endeavor to engage the work of the church, and
  • endeavor to submit to one another.

What Does Membership at GPC Entail?

Specifically, membership entails the above promises and the further understanding of what it mans to support the church in its worship and work and to submit (come under the mission of) to its government and discipline. What is expected of members in regard to that support? We have the following Member Commitments.

As a member of Grace Presbyterian Church we agree, in humble reliance upon the grace of the Holy Spirit, to:

  1. Participate in corporate worship by attending church regularly,
  2. Participate in adult fellowship ministries by joining an ACE (Adult Community & Education) class and/or a Home Fellowship Group (HFG),
  3. Participate in ministry to our church by serving on a Ministry Team,
  4. Participate in supporting the church financially by tithing of my treasure,
  5. Participate in ministry to our children by serving on Children’s Ministry and/or nursery programs