Baptism: unlike most other mainstream Christian churches (such as the Church of England, Methodists and United Reformed Church), Baptists do not baptise or “christen” babies. Our understanding of the New Testament teaching about baptism is that it is for “believers only”. Baptism is a very special moment on the journey of faith - it is a moment when we seal our personal commitment of faith in Jesus as Lord of our life in the presence of our fellow believers. Normally baptism takes place by full immersion in water as part of a public act.
Church Membership Having become members of the worldwide Christian Church, we are called to live out our Christian faith in partnership with other Christians in a local church. Our commitment first and foremost is to Jesus Christ, but he wants us to express this in commitment to one another and to the wider community in the context of a local church. Church membership is a way of showing our commitment to Christ and to one another, and it opens up various opportunities for service.
There are three ways of becoming a member of a Baptist Church.
Believer’s Baptism This is the normal way, based on New Testament practice. Prior to total immersion in water, the person being baptised is asked to respond to two questions:
Do you confess your faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour?
Do you promise, relying upon God’s grace, to follow Christ and to serve him all your life in the fellowship of the Christian Church?
At a subsequent Communion Service, the person is officially welcomed into membership after responding to a further question:
Do you promises to be a loyal member of Fuller Baptist Church, regular in attending worship, faithful in your support for the church, and diligent in your private devotions, seeking to grow always in your knowledge and love of God?
Profession of Faith If there are really good reasons for not being baptised then a person may become a church member by “profession of faith” – making the same declaration and promises as those who are baptised.
Transfer of membership If a person is a member of another Christian Church, (s)he may transfer membership to our church. This would usually be a transfer from one membership roll to ours and involves our Church Secretary communicating with the previous church.
When application is made for membership, two church visitors are appointed to interview the applicant. Their task is to represent the church to the applicant and then to represent the applicant to the church. They will want to know something about your commitment to Christ, and why you are now taking this important step in your life. The visitors will then make a report to the church meeting, for members’ approval.