TASTE OF CROSSBRIDGE
If you’re new to our church and want to get connected this is an excellent place to start. Pastor Felipe Assis will take you through our journey, tell you where we’re headed, and answer any questions you may have about Crossbridge Church. Enjoy an open conversation with others over a meal.
Location and times vary each month, register here under our events page.
WHY FORMAL MEMBERSHIP IN A CHURCH?
Many benefits of a vital congregation are available to anyone who becomes involved, members or not. But there is a rationale for formal membership.
MEMBERSHIP IN New Testament TIMES
Church in the New Testament of the Bible usually meant a specific local church like that at Ephesus or Corinth. Did people actually join local churches formally, or was it an informal association?
LOCAL CHURCHES: The biblical metaphors used to describe local churches - flock, temple, body, and household -are used specifically of local churches (Acts 20, Eph 2, 1Cor 12, 1Tim 3). Each of these metaphors has a clear distinction of who is part of the church, and who isn’t.
- THE MEANING OF “THE WHOLE CHURCH”: In 1Corinthians 14:23, Paul says “if the whole church comes together in one place...” How would the leaders know if the “whole church” was there if no formal relationship was established?
- THE INSTRUCTIONS FOR PASTORAL OVERSIGHT AND SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP: Pastors/overseers/shepherds were to care for “all the flock” (Acts 20:28, 1Tim 3, Acts 20, Phil 1:1, Titus 1). Leaders of the citywide churches must have had some listing of believers. Since leaders were accountable for the souls of the flock under their care (Heb 13:17), they must have had some commitment for care.
- THE MEANING OF THE WORD "JOIN": After the fiery end of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:13, no non-Christians “dared join them [the church], but the people esteemed them highly.” The Greek word for join has strong connotations of commitment. The same word is used to speak of sexual relationships (1Cor 6:16) and joining to the Lord (1Cor 6:17).
- THE INSTRUCTIONS FOR CHURCH DISCIPLINE: Matthew 18:15-17 and 1Corinthians 5 talk about putting a person out of the church ('remove' in NASB version of Bible, 'expel' in NIV version) and treating him like an unbeliever. Since unbelievers were welcome at worship, removal must have indicated a distinct formal association. “In the New Testament there is no such person as a Christian who is not a church member. Conversion was described as ‘the Lord adding to the church’ (Acts 2:47). There was no spiritual drifting.” (Douglas Miller).
1. We are Presbyterian. Part of what it means to be Presbyterian or Reformed is to be covenantal. Reformed Christians read the Bible with the understanding that God relates to individuals through a people he has set aside. The terms of this relationship that God establishes with his people are called covenants. Through the 6 main covenants depicted in the Bible (Adam/covenant of works, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, New Covenant) God vows to protect, to nurture and to never abandon his covenant people.
2. We believe that baptism (practiced as circumcision in the Old Testament) functions as a sign and seal of this covenant. The seal aspect points to the fact that through baptisms people are brought into life in the covenant community in a visible way. In Matt 28:12 when Jesus commands his disciples to make disciples and baptize, he intended that those who became believers in his Gospel would have to be immediately inserted into the covenant community for nurture, service and growth. The sign aspect reveals that there is a greater reality which baptism points to. This greater reality is, God’s outpouring of special blessings to his covenant people (we technically say that baptism is a “means of grace”).
3. We believe that adults are brought into the community through baptism after they profess faith in Jesus. Infants on the other hand, that are born in the covenant community (children of members) are naturally brought in through their parents. To deny them the seal that recognizes their participation in the community is to A) narrow the composition of Jesus’ church (covenant community) to people that have the ability to discern B) to be inconsistent with what actually takes place practically.
4. We believe that baptism does not confer salvation. Reformed Christians differ from Catholics who believe that regeneration is initiated in baptism and from Baptist or Anabaptist Christians that believe that baptism is merely a symbol of one’s profession of faith. For us, baptism is a sacrament. Sacramentum is a Latin translation of the Greek word Musterion from where we get the word ‘mystery’. We believe that in baptism as in communion, God graciously distributes blessings to those who participate by faith. In the case of infants being baptized, their parents’ faith. Parents trust Jesus in baptism that Jesus will mysteriously begin to work in their child’s life and that one day Jesus will draw their child to himself and, that their child will one day publicly profess their personal faith in Jesus.
5. A covenant involves responsibility for those who participate in it. As wedding vows bind those who marry, baptism binds the church (the covenant community) and the parents to Jesus’ covenant. For both, it means raising the child in the ways of the Lord, providing the child a culture of grace and godly examples to follow. Lack of faith in participation implies judgment.