Baptism & Church Membership

  • THE MEANING OF BAPTISM
    • Why should we be baptized?
      • Because Jesus set the exampleAt that time, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan” (Mark 1:9)
      • Because Jesus commandsGo therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 29:19-20)
      • Because it demonstrates that I am a believer. Baptism is an act of obedience. “So those who welcomed his message were baptized.”  (Acts 2:41)
    • What are The Lake of the Woods Church’s methods of baptism?
      • We practice infant baptism in the confidence that God works through families. Its roots are in Old Testament circumcision as a sign of being included in God’s covenant people. “Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray.”                                                                                                              (Proverbs 22:6)
      • We practice adult baptism as an expression of God’s saving grace. Its roots are in Jewish custom of ceremonial washing as a sign of a new work of God in a person’s life. “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.”                     (Acts 2:39) Baptism is done by immersion, sprinkling or pouring; the issue is not how one is baptized but that one isWhen the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of any righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”                                                                                          (Titus 3:4-5)
      • God’s grace in our lives leads to our response of faith
 

One of the questions that has most seriously divided Christians down through the ages is the nature of baptism, especially whether it is appropriate to baptize infants and small children.  Broadly speaking, there are two major traditions – one “catholic” and one “Baptist” (or anabaptist).

  • The “catholic” tradition says, Yes, it is not only appropriate to do so, it is virtually expected that Christian parents will have their children baptized. Not only Roman Catholics, but many of the “mainline” denominations rely on promises such as Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (KJV)  They point out that God has always acted through families.  Isaac, for instance, was included in the covenant God made with his father, Abraham.  Isaac was circumcised on the eighth day of his life; he had no say in the matter.  They point out that baptism, for Christians, is directly parallel to circumcision for Jews – with the difference that baptism is for both men and women, boys and girls, whereas circumcision is for males only.

 

  • The “baptistic” tradition says that in the New Testament, baptism always follows conversion and personal commitment; “Repent and be baptized,” was Peter’s answer to the question, “what must we do to be saved?” (Acts 2:38)

At LOWC we say we are “a church for all believers,” and we emphasize that we are “Multi-denominational” (not “nondenominational”).  This means we try very hard to emphasize what we have in common, as followers of Jesus, and where we have differences we do the best we can to honor our various traditions and backgrounds. Thus, when we come to the matter of baptism, we want to provide baptism for infants and small children for those families that request it.  And adult baptism for those who prefer to wait until they – or their children – have made a mature decision to accept Jesus as their savior and Lord.  Usually (but not always) infant baptism is done in the church, on a Sunday morning.  And usually (but not always) adult baptism is in the lake, at the Clubhouse point. Occasionally someone will say something like this to us: “My parents had me baptized when I was a baby, but it didn’t mean anything to me; I want to be baptized as an adult.”  This is the response we give to that kind of a request. First, while it may not have meant anything to you consciously, be careful not to negate what it meant to your parents, to others who may have been there, to the Lord himself, and – though you could not have understood it at the time – what it meant to you in your spiritual history.  You are here now, wanting to express your commitment to Christ; don’t discount the ways God has been acting in your life from long before you became aware of them. Secondly, to “re-baptize” you would be precisely to discount the reality of what happened previously.  How can that be an honoring of different traditions? We understand the desire to give an expression to one’s decision to become Christ’s follower, and we encourage that!  There are many ways to do that.  Most of the churches that do practice infant baptism also encourage confirmation at a later age (roughly equivalent to bar- and bas- mitzvah for Jews).  “Coming forward” and “asking Jesus into my heart” at an evangelistic service is for many exactly such an expression.  Regular participation in the Holy Communion is another.  Note that baptism and the Lord’s Supper are both expressing exactly the same thing: that Jesus died for my sins, and I accept with gratitude the gift of his forgiveness and new life. Sometimes people say, Yes, I understand all that, but I still want to be baptized as an adult.  We suggest putting it differently: “I want to renew my baptismal commitment.” We liken this to what long-time married couples sometimes do on their 25th or 50th anniversaries.  They repeat their wedding vows.  They are not “getting married;” they have been married for all these years previously!  But they are reiterating promises made long ago, promises they still want to live by. Often visitors to the Holy Land want to renew their baptism in the Jordan River.  It is exhilarating to be immersed in the same place that John the Baptist exercised his powerful ministry, and the place where Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit to begin his ministry, as well.

We are grateful for the opportunity and privilege of sharing in the lives of the faithful here at LOWC in all these various ways.
 

 Church Membership (Discovery Class)

We invite you to become a member of the Church. Many churches define “church membership” in different ways.

  • What we mean here at The Lake of the Woods Church by the term “church membership”
    • Membership is an acknowledgement that we are forgiven sinners desiring to follow Jesus and identifying with others saying the same.
    • Membership is a decision to grow in faith and serve God along with the others in this local church and an agreement with its Statements and Core Values.
    • We offer the option of dual membership with other congregations. We recognize that many in our area reside here part-time or otherwise remain active in congregations elsewhere.  We respect and honor that, and invite you to consider membership with us, as well.
  • How Does one become a Member?
    • Personal Faith in Jesus Christ
    • Baptism
    • Completion of the “Discovering The Lake of the Woods Church” Class.
    • Affirmation of the Membership Pledge during your chosen worship service on Membership Sunday.
  • The responsibilities of a “church member” at The Lake of the Woods Church are expressed in the Membership Pledge:
    • Do you affirm that it is only by God’s grace that you are saved and nothing of your own doing, and that by God’s grace you are empowered to live the Christian life?
    • Do you affirm the Holy Scriptures as your guide for faith and life?
    • Will you support The Lake of the Woods Church with your prayers, presence, gifts and service?

 

 Baptisms and Membership Sundays are scheduled twice a year.

(approx. Apr/May & Sept/Oct)

The next Discovery Class is scheduled for Sunday September 15th at 12:15 p.m. –  childcare is available and lunch will be served. For those who have completed the discovery class, the next Membership Sunday is October 6th. Please contact the church office to RSVP 
 
Baptism Class is scheduled for Sunday September 22nd and Church Baptisms will be Sunday September 29th