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The obligations of church membership - James C. Bell

One may ask: "If I choose to join the church, what is required of members and just what do members do?

Many may think one goes to church to sing songs of praise to the Lord and to hear the sermons of the pastor. This is true, but there are obligations asked of each member to make the church and its work first in their lives, and to use their talents and time for the glory of God.

Most churches have a covenant, which is a voluntary agreement by members whereby they promise to conduct their lives in such a way as to glorify God and promote the ongoing of His church. The form of covenant in wide use in Baptist Churches is as follows.

Covenant:

Having been led as we believe, by the Spirit of God, to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior, and on the profession of our faith, having been baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, we do now in the presence of God, angels, and this assembly, most solemnly and joyfully enter into covenant with one another, as one body in Christ.

We engage, therefore, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, to walk together in Christian love; to strive for the advancement of this church, in knowledge, holiness, and comfort; to promote its prosperity and spirituality, to sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline, and doctrines; to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor, and the spread of the gospel to all nations.

We also engage to maintain family and secret devotions, to religiously educate our children; to seek the salvation of our kindred and acquaintances; to walk circumspectly in the world; to be just in our dealings; faithful in our engagements, and exemplary in our deportment; to avoid all tattling, backbiting, and excessive anger; to abstain from the sale and use of intoxicating drinks as a beverage; and to be zealous in our efforts to advance the kingdom of our Savior.

We further engage to watch over one another in brotherly love; to remember each other in prayer; to aid each other in sickness and distress; to cultivate Christian sympathy in feelings and courtesy in speech; to be slow to take offense, but always ready for reconciliation, and mindful of the rules of our Savior to secure it without delay.

We moreover engage that when we remove from this place we will, as soon as possible, unite with some other church, where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant and the principles of God's Word.

I encourage all those who are not Christians to hear the word of the Lord and be saved, and to join His church and to adhere to the full meaning of this covenant. As you read this great covenant, don't you see and agree it puts forth very worthwhile statements that will enrich the lives of those who follow them?

Being a member in regular attendance of a church provides for spiritual growth and the fulfillment of Christ's statement in John 10:10, "I am come that you might have life and have it more abundantly."

I pray God will lead you to His church and that He will richly bless your life!