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John_C
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Confession of Faith #6336
Sat Oct 04, 2003 1:09 PM
Sat Oct 04, 2003 1:09 PM
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 1,856
Northwest Indiana, USA
Wes Offline OP
Needs to get a Life
Wes  Offline OP
Needs to get a Life
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 1,856
Northwest Indiana, USA
This question is really intended to get some input from pastors and elders who participate in interviewing candidates who express an interest in becoming a member in your church. Ofcourse anyone who has an opinion is most welcome to reply. What should be required of someone wanting to become a communicant member in the church? What kinds of questions should be asked?<br><br>During a worship service when someone is making a public profession of faith the following questions are asked.<br><br>1. Do you heartily believe the doctrine contained in the Old and the New Testament, and in the articles of the Christian faith, and taught in this Christian church, to be the true and complete doctrine of salvation, and do you promise by the grace of God stedfastly to continue in this profession?<br><br>2. Do you openly accept God's covenant promise, which has been signified and sealed unto you in your baptism, and do you confess that you abhor and humble yourselves before God because of your sins, and that you seek your life not in yourselves, but only in Jesus Christ your Savior?<br><br>3. Do you declare that you love the Lord, and that it is your heartfelt desire to serve Him according to His Word, to forsake the world, to mortify your old nature, and to lead a godly life?<br><br>4. Do you promise to submit to the government of the church and also, if you should become delinquent either in doctrine or in life, to submit to its admonition and discipline?<br><br>When these questions are asked during a worship service the only reply necessary is the affirmative but before coming to this point what should the elders do by way of requirements and interview questions?<br><br>Wes


When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died, my richest gain I count but loss and pour contempt on all my pride. - Isaac Watts
In the Presbyterian system [Re: Wes] #6337
Sat Oct 04, 2003 3:09 PM
Sat Oct 04, 2003 3:09 PM
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Mississippi Gulf Coast
John_C Offline

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Those questions (are similar ones in the BCO) are asked of a new member who is making a profession of faith beforehand in a Session meeting. The Session approves new members, not the congregation. In my church, we not only ask those type of questions; we also ask the prospective member to give their testimony. The Pastor or a RE will interview the person even before coming to the Session. When a person is making a profession of faith, the new member will affirm them before the congregation, but the person is already a member at that time. .


John Chaney

"having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith . . ." Colossians 2:7
Re: In the Presbyterian system [Re: John_C] #6338
Sat Oct 04, 2003 6:55 PM
Sat Oct 04, 2003 6:55 PM
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 1,856
Northwest Indiana, USA
Wes Offline OP
Needs to get a Life
Wes  Offline OP
Needs to get a Life
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 1,856
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John C,<blockquote><font size=1>In reply to:</font><hr>[color:"blue"]Those questions (are similar ones in the BCO) are asked of a new member who is making a profession of faith beforehand in a Session meeting. The Session approves new members, not the congregation.</font><hr></blockquote><p>In my denomination the elders approve new members, not the congregation. The public profession is making public what has been accepted by the elders in private as a confession of faith. This confession can be very personal and then expand into an understanding of the Church's creeds and confessions.<blockquote><font size=1>In reply to:</font><hr>[color:"blue"]In my church, we not only ask those type of questions; we also ask the prospective member to give their testimony.</font><hr></blockquote><p>This is an important element in the process. Younger individuals who have grown up in the church and have been taught Catechism will know the standard answers but what kind of personal testimony will be required? If you have participated in this process have you ever felt uncomfortable with the answers given or the testimony? How do you handle this if the individual doesn't truly seem ready. How about if they offer no testimony?<blockquote><font size=1>In reply to:</font><hr>[color:"blue"]The Pastor or a RE will interview the person even before coming to the Session. </font><hr></blockquote><p> How much of the process in your church is left to the discretion of the Pastor or a RE? Do you ever turn someone down who doesn't seem ready?<br><br><br>Wes


When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died, my richest gain I count but loss and pour contempt on all my pride. - Isaac Watts
Re: In the Presbyterian system [Re: Wes] #6339
Sun Oct 05, 2003 7:26 AM
Sun Oct 05, 2003 7:26 AM
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Mississippi Gulf Coast
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Wes, you asked, <br><br><blockquote><font size=1>In reply to:</font><hr>[color:"blue"] If you have participated in this process have you ever felt uncomfortable with the answers given or the testimony? How do you handle this if the individual doesn't truly seem ready. How about if they offer no testimony? </font><hr></blockquote><p><br><br>I have seen some where the person's testimony is weak, but the Pastor will make them restate that they understand grace. I have never been in a Session meeting where we rejected anyone. If someone is not ready, then I would think the interviews will find that out before it gets to the Session. Although I have never seen someone refusing to give a testimony, that would ring up red flags and a no-go. <br><br><blockquote><font size=1>In reply to:</font><hr>[color:"blue"] How much of the process in your church is left to the discretion of the Pastor or a RE? Do you ever turn someone down who doesn't seem ready?</font><hr></blockquote><p><br><br>Since we are a small church, the Pastor will normally do the interview and he is a stickler in making sure anyone/everyone understands grace. So, the Session will go his with his opinion. <br><br>In my church new believers will join because of baptism, every believer should be baptized and make a public profession of their belief. However, we have several families who are faithful attendees and being a part of the church who have not joined. They would go through the same process of interviews but would join by reaffirmation of faith or letter of transfer. <br><br>


John Chaney

"having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith . . ." Colossians 2:7
Re: In the Presbyterian system [Re: John_C] #6340
Sun Oct 05, 2003 4:01 PM
Sun Oct 05, 2003 4:01 PM
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 1,856
Northwest Indiana, USA
Wes Offline OP
Needs to get a Life
Wes  Offline OP
Needs to get a Life
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 1,856
Northwest Indiana, USA
John C,<blockquote><font size=1>In reply to:</font><hr>[color:"blue"]I have some where the person's testimony is weak, but the Pastor will make them restate that they understand grace. I have never been in a Session meeting where we rejected anyone. If someone is not ready, then I would think the interviews will find that out before it gets to the Session. Although I have never seen someone refusing to give a testimony, that would ring up red flags and a no-go. </font><hr></blockquote><p>I agree with you that if someone is not ready this should be known before coming to the elders. The pastor should question the individual to know if they're ready or not before setting up the interview. The elders also should take responsibility to insure that by accepting this profession of faith they are convinced that it is genuine.<br><br>The reason I'm asking this question is because I'm interested in knowing what others do. I'd like to know if others have struggled with the inability of the person to express their faith or their knowledge of who Christ is and what He's done. After all the elders are responsible for being the gate keepers in determining who should come to the Lord's Supper. <br><br>I'm struggling to find peace in my heart about a situation that has occured in my church in which I have some serious reservations about the person's understanding of basic Christian doctrine. Ofcourse the pastor has worked with the person prior to coming before the elders and he assures us that this young man is just having trouble expressing himself. It's because of the pastor's comments that he has been received as a communicant member. However it seems to me that if he's really ready to make a confession of faith he'd have a little something to say even if its not eloquent. When questioned about his understanding of the questions that he's answered yes to (as noted in my original post) he clearly showed a lack of comprehension. I would have liked to see this individual spend more time with the pastor preparing himself if in fact he's really being moved by the Holy Spirit. In our situation we accepted this individual based on the pastor's comments and we assigned someone to mentor him since he doesn't have a background in the church and hasn't been through catechism training.<blockquote><font size=1>In reply to:</font><hr>[color:"blue"]Since we are a small church, the Pastor will normally do the interview and he is a stickler in making sure anyone/everyone understands grace. So, the Session will go with his opinion.</font><hr></blockquote><p>We rely also on the discernment of the pastor and his work with the individual before coming to the elders too however should that replace the individual's inability to communicate what they believe? Not everyone can give an eloquent testimony nor answer all the catechism questions but what is the lowest rung on the ladder to accept their profession believing they are indeed born again?<br><br><br>Wes


When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died, my richest gain I count but loss and pour contempt on all my pride. - Isaac Watts
Re: In the Presbyterian system [Re: Wes] #6341
Sun Oct 05, 2003 4:35 PM
Sun Oct 05, 2003 4:35 PM
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 13,411
NH, USA
Pilgrim Offline

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Wes,<br><br>I have some personal thoughts on your question in regard to church membership.<ul>[*]I hold firmly to the "plurality of Elders" in the church. Thus, where there is more than one Elder, I would rather individuals seeking membership meet with ALL the Elders for ALL interviews and not be "screened" by the Pastor who has no more authority than any other Elder. In my experience, many "ruling elders" had far more insight and wisdom than did the "teaching/preaching elders". If an Elder is incapable of discerning spiritual life (as best as we are able), then he shouldn't be in that office.</li>[*]Questions asked should be of two types: 1) Experimental - questions concerning the person's heart, e.g., what do they think of Christ, how do they see themselves, speak about sin, salvation, etc., personally. 2) Doctrinal - questions more objective in nature. Does the individual understand the fundamentals of the faith? e.g., Trinity, incarnation, atonement, justification, sanctification, repentance, faith, etc. One cannot be expected to be able to recite Berkhof's Systematic Theology, but they should have a fundamental grasp of the essentials. Else, how can they possibly have faith in a Christ Who is not God? How can they repent of their sins and loathe their sinfulness if they no nothing about their part in the Fall and its consequences, etc.<br><br>Additionally, one should be at least privy to the doctrinal standards which the church is founded upon. Does the person have any acquaintance with the Confession and/or Catechism of that particular church? Whether a particular church that was Reformed would admit into membership one who was clearly Arminian is something the church would have to decide. On my part, I wouldn't allow it. However, I WOULD accept a credo-Baptist as a member into a church that held to paedobaptism IF that individual understood that he/she would not be allowed to cause schism by either openly or secretly teaching against it.</li>[*]No church transfers, period. ALL should be required to make a valid profession of faith. Women who are married should also be required to make a valid profession of faith and not be accepted, de facto, on their husband's profession. If the individual(s) is coming from another church, then that church should be contacted and asked to provide some history of the individual(s), e.g., are they currently under discipline, did they have any particular roles in that congregation, such as teaching, ministry, etc.</li>[*]The person should be asked why they are wanting to join that particular congregation. Do they understand the concept of the BODY of Christ, where people are members of ONE Body who share their gifts, time and talents among the brethren and that they hold to a particular and specific theological sytem?</li>[*]If it was determined that the individual would do well to attend a "communicants class" to be further instructed, the individual should be asked if they would be willing to do so.</li>[/LIST]I'm sure there is something I'm missing, but these things, IMHO, are essential.<br><br>In His Grace,


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Re: In the Presbyterian system [Re: Pilgrim] #6342
Sun Oct 05, 2003 8:31 PM
Sun Oct 05, 2003 8:31 PM
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 1,856
Northwest Indiana, USA
Wes Offline OP
Needs to get a Life
Wes  Offline OP
Needs to get a Life
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 1,856
Northwest Indiana, USA
Pilgrim,<br><br>Thanks. Those are helpful thoughts and just the kind I was looking for. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/thanks.gif" alt="" />

Quote
Questions asked should be of two types:

1) Experimental - questions concerning the person's heart, e.g., what do they think of Christ, how do they see themselves, speak about sin, salvation, etc., personally.

As I said in my earlier reply I don't think they have to be eloquent words but there should be a testimony which includes conviction of sin leading to repentance and evidence of saving faith no matter how crudely its expressed. I think this should include why they want to make public profession of faith and how God's grace has impacted their life.

Quote
2) Doctrinal - questions more objective in nature. Does the individual understand the fundamentals of the faith? e.g., Trinity, incarnation, atonement, justification, sanctification, repentance, faith, etc.

These questions are important to sort out if the believer is rooted and grounded in sound doctrine. Unfortunately the above doctinal questions are taught to our children through Catechism training but are no guarantee that they will have genuine saving faith. That's why we need to hear a personal testimony.<br><br>Only God sees the heart but if the heart has truly been converted there should be some evidence. Evidence which should easily be discovered through an interview and over time. <br><br>I wonder if there are any elders or pastors on the forum who have turned down a profession of faith because they thought the individual was not ready yet. And how they handled that.<br><br><br>Wes


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