BAPTISM, CONFIRMATION, MEMBERSHIP

BAPTISM, CONFIRMATION, MEMBERSHIP
 
Next Baptism Service:  2 October, 8am, 930am and 11am
Next Confirmation Service: 6 November, 8am, 930am and 11am
 
How do I become a member of the Methodist Church?
 
What is Membership?
A member of a church is someone who is in 'fellowship' with that church.  Membership is partnership.  The Greek word in the New Testament is koinonia; it implies partnership and an intention to work together to achieve a goal.
  Our goal is discipleship; we work together to become and to make disciples.  We do this in response to Jesus' great commission in Matthew 28:19-20 -

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” - Matthew 28:19-20
  A disciple is a student.  We are students of Jesus.  We want to learn to be more like him in heart, mind and soul.  In the earliest life of the church Christianity was simply called: 'The Way'  Our way, is the Jesus way.
  But following Jesus is not just about learning - it is about relationship.
  When we come to believe that Jesus is Lord (The Son of God) and we invite the Holy Spirit to come and live in our hearts we begin to realize that we are God's children.  Paul describes the characteristics of the children of God in Galatians 5 when he describes the fruit of the Holy Spirit:
  '...love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control....' - Galatians 5:22-23
  Our Methodist Rule book, The Book of Order describes the conditions of membership as follows:
  "Membership... is based upon a personal experience of the Lord Jesus Christ, brought about by the Spirit, ranging from the earliest signs of Divine Grace in the soul to its crowning blessedness in the joy of 'perfect love.'" - Book of Order 3.1
 
It is hard to describe what the earliest signs of Divine Grace in the soul are - but I think that means the slightest twinkle of God's love reaching the heart of a person and a gentle resolve to follow Jesus more closely.  Our relationship with Jesus grows from our noticing him in the distance - to the point where we are his most intimate disciples.
 
Membership of the church is there to help us on that journey from the beginning of discipleship - calling out to Jesus - to the point where we follow him most closely and call others to join us.
 
Is there a difference between attending a church and joining a church?
 
Before you become a Christian it is OK to 'attend' church.  But once you become a Christian you should 'join' a church.  The New Testament encourages us to "bear one another's burdens" (Galatians 6:2); Acts describes the earliest Christians as being 'devoted to fellowship' (Acts 2:42).
 
As long as you simply 'attend' church you are not taking full responsibility for your part in the community.  And you are not following the example of the earliest Christ followers who were devoted to the fellowship - they played their part in the partnership.
 
JOINING THE CHURCH
Baptism, Confirmation and Reception into Membership

BAPTISM
 
In Acts 2 when people came to believe in Jesus they asked Peter:  "What should we do?"  his response was:  "Repent and be baptized every one of you... and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38)
 
The Methodist Church baptizes both children and adults; but if you have been baptized as a child we may not baptize you a second time.  Baptism is a sign of God's grace given for you - the washing away of your sins - the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  We encourage parents to bring their children for baptism and when they bring their children for baptism to commit to raising those children in the faith.
 
If you have already been baptized but not been confirmed we invite you to be confirmed.
 
CONFIRMATION (AND ADULT BAPTISM)
 
In the case of those able to answer for themselves, or come for baptism of their own volition we encourage them to be confirmed at the same time.  Confirmation is a public declaration of your faith in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  It is also a sign of your desire to receive the Holy Spirit.
In the confirmation service we ask you:

"Do you turn away from evil and all that denies God?"
and
"Do you turn to God, trusting in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, and in the Holy Spirit as Helper and Guide?"
Your answer to these questions should be: "By the grace of God I do."
 
We then ask you to affirm your faith in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as described in the Apostle's Creed.
 
Having affirmed your faith you are invited to kneel and the minister lays his or her hand on your head and prays that you would be filled with the Holy Spirit and strengthened for discipleship.
 
RECEPTION INTO MEMBERSHIP
 
If you have already been baptised and confirmed then there is no need to be baptised or confirmed again.  But we do ask those who would like to commit to fellowship in the Methodist Church:
 
Will you commit yourself to the Christian life of worship and service, and be open to the renewing power of God?
 
Will you seek the strength of God's Spirit as you accept the cost of following Jesus Christ in your daily life?
 
Will you witness, by word and deed, to the good news of God in Christ, and so bring glory to God?
 
In return we ask the church community to commit to you:
 
Will you so maintain the Church's life of worship and service that these brothers and sisters may grow in grace and in the knowledge and love of God and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord?
 
WHAT NEXT?
 
If you would like to be baptised,
if you would like to have your children baptised,
if you would like to be confirmed,
if you would like to be received as a member,
then be sure to speak to me, or contact our church office between 9 and 1pm so that we can arrange the necessary preparation.
 
Next Baptism Service:  2 October, 8am, 930am and 11am
Next Confirmation Service: 6 November, 8am, 930am and 11am
 
Also: If you want to baptize your baby but the baptism robe is going to be too small if we don't do it soon enough.  Or if your friends and family are coming from far away and they'll be here on a specific weekend - then please speak to me so we can see if we can make a special arrangement for baptism at one of our other Sunday services.
 
God bless,
Rev Angus Kelly
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Rev Angus Kelly
Tableview Methodist