The Church is God’s project. We can only become Christians and be baptised because the Church is already there exercising its witness. All Christians have the Church as their mother, as surely as they have God as their Father. We are indebted to it and to the people within it who have been committed enough to hand its benefits on to us. When we become Christians we enter into the Church’s life and become a part of it. We are like the parts of a body that are intimately connected to each other and are directed by the head, which is Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-21). None of us can say we have no need of it or of each other. By believing in Christ we have committed ourselves to belong to Christ’s people and this deserves the best that we can bring.
Edward Road Baptist Church works hard to purposefully build relationships through fellowship one with another. We hold fellowship lunches after the church service twice a month, on the second and fourth Sunday of every month.
While all who attend Edward Road are loved and welcomed, a greater sense of belonging is found in Church membership. This is about committed belonging to the Church in general and to a local congregation in particular. But it is impossible to belong to the Church in general without belonging to a particular congregation. Some years ago a Peanuts cartoon showed Charlie Brown saying, ‘I love humanity. It’s people I can’t stand!’ Just as you cannot love humanity without loving people so it is not possible to belong to the Church in abstract, but only in real and committed relationships. There is no doubt that becoming a member in a local Baptist church is challenging. It involves commitment and this in turn requires sacrifice. This may mean the sacrifice of time and money and of emotional and physical energy. In return, there is the reward of belonging to a community of people who strongly believe in what they are doing and who are working cooperatively to achieve their goals. Membership probably involves swimming against the tide of modern culture in which people have come to see themselves first and foremost as consumers rather than contributors. But this is a tide that needs to be resisted. If the role of the church is to offer alternative ways of living which arise from the covenant relationship we share with God, then committed church membership is worth entering into and commending to others.