Membership & Baptism

Membership in the Church Community

The New Testament scriptures are saturated with examples and stories of people committing to the local church. Today, we call this membership. To be a member of a church is to make a public promise to live according to God's Word and to support the work of the congregation. The church body also promises to support and care for members as a unified local worshipping community. In the Bible this is called a covenant; an agreement in which both parties make commitments to one another. A public promise, or covenant, is the basis for all society, according to the Bible: marriage, employment, citizenship, and church membership are all relationships of accountability.

Membership in a church is not like membership in a social club or other organizations. Most organization members are consumers; the organization exists to serve them. The Church is a completely different community - membership means ministry and service, going from being a consumer to becoming a contributor: sharing God's love and care to others through giving of your time, talents and resources. At City Church, we commit to being a church not for ourselves, but for others.

At City Church, we commit to being a church not for ourselves, but for others.

Baptism

The Sacrament of Baptism is both a sign and a seal. As a sign, baptism signifies what God has done in Christ. Baptism proclaims the "Good News" of the Gospel: that God offers us forgiveness and new life in Christ and the water of baptism signifies this cleansing.

Baptism is also a seal. As wax was often used in the ancient world to claim, "this letter is owned by me and given to you," baptism is a mark of God's ownership (much like a tattoo or brand is a mark of ownership) upon us. Baptism is the seal that God has entered into covenant with us and it is the mark of Christ's death and resurrection. In baptism, the emphasis is on what God has done for us. It is God's action toward us.

As we journey, baptism serves as a reminder of our true identity when we develop amnesia about ourselves. Through baptism we remember that "I am a Christian, baptized, marked by God, owned by Him" and I am called to live out the implications of this baptism for the rest of my life.

For adults who have been baptized after trusting in Christ, this means developing and growing your faith over the course of your lifetime.

For infants and children, whose parents bring them for baptism, claiming covenant promises on their behalf, this means in time owning this baptism for yourself, placing your faith in Christ, and then developing and growing your faith over the course of your lifetime.  Our children look back to their baptism and say, "from my earliest days, I've been marked, set apart, owned by God, and I respond to this in faith and repentance."

As we are nourished and fed in the Lord's Supper, in baptism we are grafted not only into Christ, but also received into a community. Therefore, baptism is not a private act, but rather it is an act of making covenant promises and identifying with the local church community.