What does the New Testament say about church membership?
What is membership like at Restoration?
Why does Restoration have members?
Who are the members of Restoration?
What does membership mean?
What if I’m not a member of Restoration, can I still participate in stuff?
Why do I have to go to a membership ‘class’?
What’s the difference between confirmation and being a member? I’ve already been confirmed, am I not a member?
What’s a vestry?
Anybody can participate in our common life at Restoration: small groups, Sunday worship, outreach opportunities, social gatherings, seminars, and training events are open to anyone. As a healthy church, we fully expect that there will be a wide range of people with a wide range of beliefs about God who join us for different parts of our life together. We want this. We want to be accessible to our community so that we can be salt and light and witnesses to the unique wonder of grace in Jesus Christ.
Just as Jesus had crowds who interacted with him yet held lots of different opinions and judgments about him, He also had smaller groups: the 3 (James, John, Peter), the 12 (disciples), the 72 (sent out on mission), the 500 (who saw him post-resurrection). We always want to be a church that is so engaged with our culture and community that people are constantly checking us out (‘checking us out’ can be a multi-year process– the best way to check something out is to immerse yourself in it for a season). But that just describes one aspect of our life.
We also want to be a church that has a defined membership core around Christ our center.
They are a vocationally, economically, and ethnically diverse group of people who have been baptized and hold in common a set of beliefs about the uniqueness of our triune God. This group of people has pledged to give from their time, talents, and treasure to our church for its role in the building of God’s Kingdom. Because of their investment of time, talent, and treasure, they are shareholders in the spiritual dividends we long to see from our gracious labors as a church. This group recognizes that the Gospel becomes transformative through the catalyst of smaller communities where we can know each other, serve the community, and live life together. In summary, these are the commitments that Restoration members hold in common:
- We are baptized believers in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
- We are intentionally giving our time, talent, and treasure to the building of God’s Kingdom through Restoration.
- We are regular participants in Restoration small groups.
- You are choosing to live in line with the New Testament exhortations for Christians. It is a fallacy to say, “I like Jesus, I just don’t like the church.” Jesus never imagined that we would be disciples in isolation or alone. Jesus expected that everyone who comes after him would commit themselves to a local community of believers. So, you don’t necessarily need to be a member of Restoration, but you need to be a member of a church somewhere.
- You get to shape our common life at Restoration. Only members can vote in our annual vestry elections. Only members can vote on issues that affect the whole church (like buying a building or hiring a Rector).
- You have the opportunity to serve in leadership at Restoration. Only members can lead small groups.
Absolutely. Every part of our common life is open to everyone. You can read Scripture on Sunday morning, serve communion, be an usher, participate in a small group, serve on a mission team, pray for people, give your tithe, and play on the worship team! You may fully immerse yourself in our common life. However, we urge you to re-visit the membership question on a regular basis. Belonging to a community through good and bad is a critical component of our discipleship and maturing in Christ.
We are a new church. One of the hurdles for a new church is building a culture and a common set of values and expectations. Our membership dinner allows us to have a common body of knowledge for those who are making these commitments to each other. We want to have an opportunity to discuss what we believe about our three in one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Why does the Gospel shape everything that we do? What is the distinctiveness of Anglicanism that shapes our worship, church authority, and structure? What does it practically look like to give my time, talent, and treasure? What’s the big deal about small groups? Why are you giving so much energy to these smaller communities?
Didn’t you already talk about all that?
Yes! I preached a series of sermons in February of 2009 that talked about our core values and how they might shape our life together. If you were there for that series, great! You have a baseline for the discussion. You can listen to it here. The dinner gives us an opportunity to have a conversation– Pastor to Parishioner. I will not be giving a two hour lecture, but I will be facilitating a two hour conversation about our life together.
Didn’t we already do that when the bishop came?
Our Bishop, David Bena came on Palm Sunday, April 5, 2009, and again on February 28, 2010. Bishop Bena recognized us as a new congregation: a mission to Arlington. He invited us to begin the work of creating a transformative community that would reach our friends and neighbors with the Gospel.
Being confirmed is not the same as becoming a member. Confirmation is a public confession of faith (see more on this below), while becoming a member means making a commitment to our specific community.
When is my next chance to become a member?
We have membership declaration opportunities three times a year: January, May, November.
This is the explanation of confirmation from our Prayer Book:
“In the course of their Christian development, those baptized at an early age are expected, when they are ready and have been duly prepared, to make a mature public affirmation of their faith and commitment to the responsibilities of their Baptism and to receive the laying on of hands by the bishop.
Those baptized as adults… are also expected to make a public affirmation of their faith and commitment to the responsibilities of their Baptism in the presence of a bishop and to receive the laying on of hands.”
Book of Common Prayer p. 412.
At confirmation, the bishop says,
“Strengthen, O Lord, your servant [name] with your Holy Spirit; empower him for your service; and sustain him all the days of his life. Amen.”
If you were baptized as an infant, confirmation is a public declaration confirming your baptismal vows. It is a statement that you want to follow Jesus as your Forgiver (Savior) and Leader (Lord). For those baptized as infants AND those baptized in other traditions, confirmation is ALSO a declaration that you want to be a part of the Anglican Communion (a ‘confirmed communicant’). So confirmation is different from membership in that confirmation is a declaration of one’s desire to follow Jesus as Savior and Lord and to be a part of the wider Anglican Communion.
Confirmation is not required for membership.
However, only those who have been confirmed can serve on our vestry.
The vestry is the elected group of elders who, alongside the Rector, provide spiritual oversight and leadership for our church. They are men and women who are elected for three year terms, with a third of the vestry rotating off each year. You can learn more about them here.