Pastor's letter

Why Join the Church?

— Pastor Erin

I'm teaching a membership class starting on May 31. I hope anyone interested in becoming a member of Eliot Church will attend. Why membership, you ask? Why take the formal step of mutual commitment with a local congregation? A few answers come to mind:

1. It's a public profession of faith. 
Believers are told not to hide our light under a bushel, but to share it with the world. A first step toward sharing hope and healing with others is to publicly say what we believe and declare our readiness to live according to the values we profess.

2. It strengthens our relationship with others in the church.
Often I've heard people say, “I don't need organized religion – all I need is me and God.” While it's true that just going to church doesn't make you a Christian, it's also true that the Christian faith was never meant to be a solo activity. The Holy Spirit works among us as a community, calling us together to learn how to love and support one another, so we can offer that same love and support to our neighbors. When we take the step to become official members of the church, we're affirming the value of these friendships. We don't expect other Christians to be perfect, just as we ourselves aren't perfect, but together we can grow more and more into the image of Christ. We are stronger together than we are alone.

3. Membership allows us to participate fully in the life of the congregation.
Everyone is welcome to attend worship, participate in service projects, and enjoy fellowship with us. But only those who have made a definite commitment to be a part of the congregation are invited to have voice and vote in congregational business. Only members are eligible to serve in ordained office (elder or deacon).

4. Joining the church encourages others.
How uplifting is it to have someone say to you “I want to be your brother/sister?” That's what you're saying when you join the church: You value the spiritual friendships you have in this congregation, and you value this community of faith. Joining the church is an act of love which means a great deal to your fellow members.

5. It's an important step in your relationship with God.
Being a part of a local congregation offers you opportunities to learn, serve, worship, and grow in your faith. If we try to walk this journey alone, it's all too easy to slip away from our most important relationship: Our relationship with God. There are always urgent distractions that tug us away from what we know deep-down to be important. But our fellow believers can help keep us on track, reminding us of what's truly important, encouraging us when we need it, and even keeping us accountable to live according to our values. Jesus said that when we gather in his name, he's right here with us: This is a journey that it's good to take together.

Becoming a member of Eliot Church isn't difficult. It requires affirming your faith in Christ and your desire to be a part of this congregation and the Presbyterian Church. When you become a member, you promise to participate in the life of the church, giving of your time, skills, and resources as you are able. And the congregation promises to walk with you on your journey of faith, supporting one another in prayer and service.

The membership class will consist of two sessions to be held after worship on May 31 and June 7, in my office. You'll learn about how the church is organized. You'll have the opportunity to ask questions and share your experiences with other new members. Please join us and consider making this commitment to allow Eliot Church to be a part of your faith journey.