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The Why of membership - Leader

This page is taken from Panteg Ministries book on Baptismal and Membership. It is intended to help a leader walk those who have come seeking or enquiring about membership.

Week One  – The why of membership  –  Leader

Welcome to the first session regarding membership and the Baptist church and this session is called the Why of Membership. If the those attending are unfamiliar with each other then perform a round robin to they can get to know one another.

Question—Why would you like to become a member of a Baptist church?

Please note that during these session together we will not be persuading you to become a member, the choice is up to you.

Question—Do you know what a Baptist is?

The Baptists’ have been around for at least 500 years, at one time we had great distinctiveness and the Baptist movement was once very vigorous. Today, however, we are very much like other Protestant churches, slow and predictable we have lost the fire and passion that we once had. By and large our Sunday services comprise of a hymn sandwich, the word is preached and we are then dismissed, with little or no spiritual activity or worship from one week to the next just look at our notice boards (thankfully not all churches are like this but they are a minority.

Yet being a Baptist is supposed to be so much more, being a Sunday Christian is not the object for your conversion, and if it is then you are joining the wrong church. With this in mind why is it so important to become a member of a Baptist church?

Can someone please read Hebrews 10:24-25

If you desire to be a member of a Baptist Church then you have to be Baptized either by ephusion or emersion and this does not include infant baptism or christening, for we are to be obedient to God as instructed by His word as it says be Baptized. If you have been baptized this means you have just begun your journey with God and you are at the very beginning of your inheritance and you should be seeking a family to be part of. The words which have been read out here during this session establishes why we are here which is to spur one another along, we are to encourage one another and we are here to study and discover the Truth we do not hide from it. What I cannot, however is make to you any promises that the church today does any of these things at all well. We as Baptist churches do not have the programmes or support structures to enable you at present to fulfil your potential in Christ, I will promise you, however, that I will try and enable, develop and allow you to be used by God in this place.

Question—Ask those who have gathered what are their expectations on becoming a member of a Baptist church, make some suggestions if you  need to.

We as Baptist are described to be Radical believers.

Question—Does anyone know what Radical means?

Baptists are radicals in the sense that they believe in returning to the roots of Christian faith (note that the English word comes from the Latin word radix which means root). This means we as Baptists seek to root our lives together in the Biblical pattern of being the church, not the building or place of worship but you and I are the church and we are on this journey together. Without each other we fail, with each other we can succeed and we can do great things with God. Remember true Baptists do not believe that we exist as separate individuals but co-exist to fulfil scripture together.

Can someone please read Hebrews 10:24-25

As we have just read together. How can we encourage one another unless we meet together, how can we care for each other unless we know one another? We exist together to understand and grow in God’s word, we are not a club or a society but a collection of Radical Believers, a people who are discovering the roots of Christianity and at the same time worshipping Christ. While we are on the subject of roots do you know the history of the Baptist movement?

We will take some time exploring our roots for many thousands of people have died so that you may grow, be baptized and worship within a Baptist church, without their sacrifice then we would not be here. During the birth and initial growth of the Baptists they came under the dominion of persecution and this took place on many occasions to its institutions and those who forms and run it. Our  heritage is one of persecution and it is no different today, however, the persecution now comes from within rather than out.

Our heritage has its beginnings from the time Europe was undergoing a great change. I don’t know how much history you know but we need to get our bearings so we can understand our unique perspective in the church of Christ over time. The Protestant church had its formation in the 15th and 16th centuries. It all started with a monk who was called Martin Luther who was German, not the American, and he wanted to reform the then Roman Catholic Church. Because of him and those who followed his example our modern era began. Luther translated the Bible into his native tongue which made it accessible to the public rather than just the clergy. In the past the ordinary man could not read directly the message of Christ, unless he could read Latin and then only if he could obtain a New Testament text. This all changed following these times, we as Baptists are part of this great movement of Protestants or those who protest against the miss-deeds of the then Roman Catholic Church. Because of the teachings of the Protestants which was seen by the Catholic Church as undermining it’s authority the RC  decided to persecute those who were following this new way of thinking and teaching and because of this many of our forefathers died.

Two men stand out for us in the Baptist movement, in 1600’s John Smyth led a group of people who started the General Baptist Church and Henry Jacob who formed the Particular Baptists. Most of these pioneering Baptists met with imprisonment and death. This persecution led many to flee to Europe and to America and the persecution of the Baptists within our society continued until  the 1900s.

Question—Would you be prepared to be persecuted for worshipping Christ in the way that we do?

Baptists worship and praise and act differently in comparison to the great national churches of Europe—Anglican, Lutheran and Reformed—Baptists have always emphasized the need for personal faith. Instead of baptizing babies. Baptists have reserved baptism for those whom are able to make a personal profession of their faith of the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.

If we believe this is true what then does pseudo or infant baptism mean?

In the 16th Century when the  modern Baptist movement was born, this emphasis on personal faith was perceived as a threat to the then state church, to which all were expected to belong, with or without faith. In 17th Century England, Baptists refused to conform and to be members of the Church of England, arguing that Christ, and not the King (or Queen) was the head of the church, this led to imprisonment, torture and death for many of our pioneers. Baptists have been described as Dissenters or nonconformists—they stand in the Free Church Tradition.

Baptists were persecuted for their beliefs through the 17th Century. In the first few centuries of the nonconformist movement two streams of Baptist life emerged based upon different theological understandings of the death of Christ.

The general Baptists believed that when Christ died upon the cross he died for everyone in general and the particular Baptists who believed that Christ died for the elect, i.e. a particular and limited number of people.

Which do you believe we as a church belong to?

In the late 19th Century these two streams came together to form the present Baptists Union of Great Britain. Since this time the Baptists have undergone many changes. You could say that during the 20th Century we lost our way and we have become like many other established church, yet this was not what it was like during our formative years.

Question—Does the style of worship practised in a Baptist church suit you?

Question—If you could change any one things in the current church climate what would it be?

Question—What items should not be seen within a Baptist church?

1. Icons
2. Images of Christ and the Cross
3. Banners or anything which distracts you from Jesus

Why then become a member of a church?

The Baptists because of their love for scripture and as they adhere to the body deciding what the will of God is, via the church meeting. The members if they so desire can reject none, some or all of the leadership’s recommendations at the church meeting.

Their heritage which has been bought with much blood and sacrifice has established a pure form of church which is suitable for radical believers who can relish in or informality and adherence to scripture and we follow Christ rather than the church.

Any Questions?

Want to know more then contact us via our links page for further details.

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