What exactly does “Membership” mean?
Most of us enjoy membership in many clubs and organizations. Whether it is an auto club, a country club or a credit card, we pay for services and privileges of “membership.” The church is a different kind of membership. The apostle Paul used the image of a living body: "For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body - Jews or Greeks, slaves or free - and we were all made to drink of one Spirit." (I Cor. 12:13) In this biblical sense, to be a member is to be part of a vital community animated by the Spirit of God to love and to serve. Paul's statement also points to the inclusiveness of the church: anyone may make the journey into life in the church.
So, becoming a member of Lost Creek isn’t like purchasing the services offered by the church; rather, becoming a member is offering oneself to service of Christ through the ministries of the church.
Anyone can participate in any event, activity or service of the church. Membership is not required. Your children may come to a camp. You may take a class. You may even travel with us on a mission trip. You may donate money. You might work at the Food Pantry each month.
The decision to become a member is an expression of a deeper level of personal commitment. Reflecting the work of Christ in your life, you choose to make a personal commitment to the United Methodist Church in general and specifically to Lost Creek, pledging the support of your “prayers, presence, gifts and service.” To become a member is like saying, “I recognize God’s work in my life. I recognize Christ’s mission here. You can count on me.”
United Methodists recognize two sacraments, the sacrament of baptism and the sacrament of Holy Communion. They are “means of grace” for us through which, we believe, the Lord draws close to us in a very special way.
Baptism is the sacrament through which God proclaims his wonderful love for us. The emphasis for United Methodists is not upon the act of faith in the life of the believer, but rather upon the gift of grace from God himself. Our act of faith is a response to God’s gift of grace. But God’s gift of grace comes first and our responsive faith then follows. Both are necessary to effect salvation in the life of the believer, but we believe baptism is a special act of God by which the gift of his grace is celebrated as it has been given to us.
As United Methodists, the act of confirmation follows the sacrament of baptism. And it is in confirmation that one confirms his or her baptism and is confirmed into the life of the Church and is blessed with the gift of God’s Holy Spirit. So the emphasis in baptism is upon God’s grace and the emphasis in confirmation is upon our faith in response to God’s grace.
As United Methodists, we baptize infants and children. We believe that God extends his grace to these little ones long before they are able to receive his grace. Churches that practice “believer’s baptism” feel that baptism represents a person’s belief in the Lord and therefore infants could not be baptized. However, given our understanding of baptism as symbolizing the gift of God’s grace extended to us even before we are able to respond to him, we baptize infants. And every infant baptized is placed on the rolls of the Church, though they are not full “professing members” nor actual Christians until they reach the time in their life when they can say YES to the One who has already spoken his YES to them through their baptism. It is the moment when they are confirmed following their profession of faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Many Christian denominations will baptize by using only one particular form, immersion or pouring or sprinkling. United Methodists can receive the sacrament of baptism in any one of those three classic ways. Most of our baptisms are by sprinkling, primarily because we feel that the method or form of baptism is a symbol of a much greater act on God’s part and not to be taken as absolute in and of itself.
An important verse to remember in understanding baptism in our United Methodist tradition is 1 John 4:10 where the writer says, “We love because He first loved us.” It is God’s initiating love, God’s “prevenient love,” that precedes and goes before even our ability to love him. And for us, baptism celebrates that great love which comes to us from the Lord and to which we are then given the opportunity to respond gratefully through faith.
If you want to have your child baptized…
We baptize the infants of persons who are members of our congregation or who have someone in our congregation (a parent, grandparent, relative, etc.) who is willing to act as the sponsor for the child being baptized. We believe that infant baptism, which includes the promise of the parents to keep the child under the ministry and guidance of the church until the child is old enough to profess faith for himself or herself, should therefore take place in the life of the congregation in which the child’s parent or parents are members and participate fully in the life of the community of faith. The baptism of infants only makes sense when that child is brought up in a Christian home and with a Christian parent or parents, and when that parent or parents are actively committed to the Body of Christ which is the Church and will place the child in the life and nurture of the church during his or her formative years.
To arrange for a baptism at Lost Creek, you should contact the pastor to schedule a Sunday. We will gladly offer baptism in either service on any Sunday. We want you to be able to make it a family event with grandparents and relatives in attendance.
If You Want to be Baptized Yourself…
To arrange for your own baptism, you will want to schedule an appointment with the pastor to discuss your profession of faith. Receiving baptism is a wonderful point of decision and commitment. We will honor your commitment in a meaningful and special way.