WHAT IS MEMBERSHIP?
Church membership is the public, visible commitment a person makes to be part of a local church.
When a person becomes a member of a church, they are placing themselves under the spiritual authority of that church's leadership. Membership in a Presbyterian Church (like HVPC) gives you privileges and responsibilities. Privileges include the right to vote for leaders and other important church matters, participate in committees, and become an elder or deacon. Responsibilities include the commitment to use your gifts and resources in support of the church body.
Perhaps it's helpful to look at the vows new members make when they join an Evangelical Presbyterian Church:
VOWS OF MEMBERSHIP
1. Do you acknowledge yourselves to be sinners in the sight of God and without hope for your salvation except in His sovereign mercy?
2. Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Savior of sinners, and do you receive and depend upon Him alone for your salvation as He is offered in the Gospel?
These first two questions simply declare your belief in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Faith in Christ is the starting point for membership in any Christian church. Check out our "Beliefs" page for more about the beliefs of our church or if you want to learn more about Jesus and what he has done for you, go here.
3. Do you now promise and resolve, 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 serve Christ in His Church by supporting and participating with the congregation in its service of God and its ministry to others to the best of your ability?
Questions 3 and 4 are commitments to your desire to live your life as a follower of Jesus. Question 3 relates more to your Christian life in general, while Question 4 specifically talks about your commitment to serve the particular church body you are joining and to do all you can to help God's people in that church to grow in Christ.
5. Do you submit yourself to the government and discipline of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church and to the spiritual oversight of this Church Session, and do you promise to promote the unity, purity and peace of the church?
Question 5 declares your willingness to come under the spiritual leadership of the church and your vow to do everything you can to maintain the peace and prosperity of the congregation. To learn more about the leadership of our church, check out this page. To learn more about our denomination, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, go to www.epc.org.
WHY BECOME A MEMBER?
We live in a low-commitment culture, so it's hard to understand why membership matters. Here are 6 reasons on why you should become a member of a church.
1. In joining a church, you make visible your commitment to Jesus and his people.
Membership is one way to raise the flag of faith... it's easy to talk in glowing terms about the invisible church - the body of believers near and far, living and dead - but it's in the visible church that God expects you to live our your faith.
2. Making a commitment makes a powerful statement in a low-commitment culture.
Joining a church makes a counter-cultural statement. It says, 'I am committed to this group of people and they are committed to me. I'm here to give, more than get.'
3. We can be overly independent...
Membership states in a formal way, 'I am part of something bigger than myself. I am not just one of three hundred individuals. I am part of a body.'
4. Church membership keeps us accountable.
When we join a church, we are offering ourselves to one another to be encouraged, rebuked, corrected and served. We are placing ourselves under leaders and submitting to their authority. We are saying, 'I am here to stay. I want to help you grow in godliness. Will you help me to do the same?'
5. Joining a church will help your pastor and elders be more faithful shepherds.
Elders and pastors take very seriously their responsibility to watch over people's souls (Hebrews 13.17). It's nearly impossible for elders to shepherd the flock when they don't know who really considers them their shepherds.
6. Joining the church gives you an opportunity to make promises.
If you don't join the church, you miss an opportunity to publicly make these promises, inviting the elders and the rest of the body to hold you to these promises - which would be missing out on great spiritual benefit for you, your leaders and the whole church.