Sunday, October 6th marks the beginning of our Next Steps membership class. I am thrilled about spending four weeks in Sunday School with those interested in getting more information about FBC Paris. Our intention with Next Steps is to provide an onramp for our congregation. Our focus will be providing information about FBC Paris and the expectations we have for our church members.

Who should consider participating in Next Steps? I would encourage three groups of people to consider participating. First, if you are a recent guest of ours and you could use some more information about FBC Paris, you should consider participating. Second, if you have been visiting FBC Paris, but have not yet joined the church though you have an interest in doing so, you should consider participating. This includes those who have recently connected with us and regular attenders who are not church members. Third, if you have recently joined FBC Paris, then you should definitely participate to get a better handle on who we are and how we operate.

Church membership is a biblical concept. The New Testament reveals a pattern of belief, followed by baptism, followed by church membership (Acts 2:41). Paul also uses the language of membership when describing the local church (Romans 12:4-5; 1 Corinthians 12:12, 14, 18, 19, 25-27). In addition, Paul draws a clear distinction between those who were and those who were not members of the Corinthian church (1 Corinthians 5:9-13).

It is also clear that we should be members of the church we attend. The “one another” commands in Scripture teach us how we are to live in relationship with our fellow church members. In order to obey these commands, we must gather together with the church of which we are members.  How else can we love one another (John 13:34-35), pray for one another (James 5:16), admonish one another (Colossians 3:16) and carry out all of the other “one another” commands in Scripture? Simply put, membership matters.

Our four sessions of Next Steps will discuss the concept of church membership in further detail. We will also cover the discipleship process and core values of FBC Paris, our doctrinal position as explained in the Baptist Faith and Message (2000) and how our church operates. If you fall into one of the groups mentioned above, or if these topics of discussion pique your interest, then I’ll see you at Next Steps.