Chapter 2: Reception of Members
5550. When candidates for membership have been approved for reception as given in 550–565, the pastor shall appoint a time during a regular worship service for their public reception, and shall preside over the service of reception or appoint a representative to preside. In those churches in which the local churches must vote on the reception of members, such vote should be taken at a meeting prior to the service of reception. Paragraphs 5565–5567, “Reception of Members,” “Covenant Questions,” and “Declaration of Purpose,” have the authority of statutory law. The paragraphs must be followed as prescribed, except that paragraph 5566 may be addressed during membership preparation classes and omitted during the service of reception if a shortened service is desired.
5555. The service of reception may begin with a hymn and Scripture reading such as one of those listed below, and with the administration of the sacrament of baptism to any who have not previously received it.
Hymn. “The Church’s One Foundation,” “I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord,” “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken,” “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.”
Scripture Lesson. Romans 12:1-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-27; Ephesians 4:1-7, 11–16; 5:25b–27.
5560. Introductory Remarks.
Minister: Dear friends, the privileges and blessings which we have within the fellowship of the church of Jesus Christ are very sacred and precious. Christ so loved the church that He gave Himself for it, sanctifying Himself that the church might be sanctified. He chose to speak of Himself as the Head of the church and of the church as His body; and again He spoke of Himself as the husband and of the church as His bride. Christ gave Himself unselfishly, and He asked the church to share its glorious relationship with all humankind, sending it into the world to preach the Scriptures, to save the lost, to administer the sacraments, to maintain Christian fellowship and discipline, and to build up the believer until He comes again. All of us, whatever our age or position, stand in need of Christ’s church and of those means of grace which it alone makes available.
It is in keeping with Christ’s commission to the church that we meet together now. There are some among us who testify to having been received already into the spiritual fellowship of the universal church, and who desire to be received into the official and visible fellowship of this local unit of the body of Christ.
5565. Reception of Members.
(The minister shall call before the congregation those who are being received as members. If the covenant questions have not been addressed previously, or if a public response to the questions is desired, the questions in paragraph 5566 shall be asked as prescribed).
These persons standing before you come to enter into covenant as members of The Wesleyan Church, with all of the accompanying rights, privileges, and responsibilities. They testify to having been born again. They have received the sacrament of baptism, have been instructed in and have accepted the doctrines and polity of The Wesleyan Church, and have been approved by vote as manifesting in spirit and practice God’s work of grace within their hearts.
(If a shortened service is desired, and the candidates have been asked the membership covenant questions and have responded appropriately, the presiding minister may add the statement “They have each responded appropriately to the membership covenant questions as required by The Discipline” [ 5550 ], omit the questions, and move to paragraph 5567.)
5566. Covenant Questions.
Minister: We now propose, in the fear of God, to question these persons as to their experience, faith, and purpose, that you may know that they are proper persons to be admitted into this Church.
Dear friends, you have come seeking union with the church of Jesus Christ. We rejoice that you have chosen to undertake the privileges and the responsibilities of membership in The Wesleyan Church. Before you are fully admitted thereto, you should here publicly and individually make your vows, confess your faith, and declare your purpose, by answering the following questions:
Minister: Do you believe in God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit? That Jesus Christ the Son suffered in your place on the cross, that He died but rose again, that He now sits at the Father’s right hand until He returns to judge all people at the last day? And do you believe in the Holy Scriptures as the inspired and inerrant Word of God? That by the grace of God every person has the ability and responsibility to choose between right and wrong, and that those who repent of their sin and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ are justified by faith? And do you believe that God not only counts believers as righteous, but that He makes them righteous, perfecting them in love at entire sanctification, and providing for their growth in grace at every stage of their spiritual life, enabling them through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to live a victorious life?
Candidate: This I believe.
Minister: Do you have the witness of the Spirit that you are a child of God?
Candidate: I do.
Minister: Is it your commitment to pursue holiness in all things?
Candidate: It is.
Minister: Do you cordially accept and agree to abide by our Articles of Religion and Elementary Principles as biblical guidelines for your conduct, and do you accept the authority of The Wesleyan Church in matters of church government?
Candidate: I do.
Minister: Do you commit to live out the mission and vision of The Wesleyan Church through a discipling relationship within the local church?
Candidate: I do.
5567. Declaration of Purpose.
Minister: By coming before us today you indicate your purpose to publicly confess the Lord, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, to be your God and the object of your highest love. You accept the Lord Jesus to be your Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit to be your Sanctifier, Comforter, and Guide. You joyfully dedicate yourselves to God that within the everlasting covenant of His grace you might be used in His service to glorify and honor Him. And you promise to hold to Him as the highest good of your lives; that you will give diligent attention to the commandments and principles of His Word; that you will seek the honor and advancement of His kingdom; and that forsaking all ungodliness and worldly desires, you will live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world.
You do also purpose to join yourselves to this church, submitting yourselves to its principles of government; and by walking in love and fellowship with all its members, seek its peace, purity, and growth in grace.
Do you freely and sincerely devote yourselves to be the Lord’s within the fellowship of this church?
Candidate: I do.
5570. Reception of Transfers from Other Denominations.
Minister: There are those who have found Christ in some other branch of His church, but who now desire to transfer their membership to The Wesleyan Church, and who present themselves for reception as members by transfer. To them we address this question:
Minister: Dear friends, in transferring your covenant relation to this branch of Christ’s church, you again renew your vows of church fellowship. Relying upon the grace of God, you promise to walk in all His commandments and ordinances, and to seek His service as your highest joy. You promise to submit to the rules and The Discipline of The Wesleyan Church; to strive earnestly for peace, purity, and growth in grace, and to walk with all members in love and Christian faithfulness. Do you sincerely devote yourselves to be the Lord’s and do you hereby renew your covenant with the church of Jesus Christ by joining yourselves to this fellowship of believers?
Transferee: I do.
(If no student members are being received the minister shall skip and go directly to 5580)
5577. Reception of Student Members.
Minister: The Church desires to embrace within its care and nurture those who are converted to Christ early in life and who desire to know more about Jesus and His will for themselves. These have come for reception as student members so they may be discipled by the Church and may, at the proper time, assume a greater place of responsibility and leadership in the Church. To these we address these questions.
Minister: Does the Lord now forgive your sins?
Candidate: Yes, He does.
Minister: Is it your purpose that you will grow in your knowledge of Jesus Christ and His will for you, to study daily in private devotions and regularly at the church, so you will mature in your faith and be prepared to serve as the Lord may direct you?
Candidate: Yes, it is.
5580. Response of the Church.
Minister: May the members of the church now join me in welcoming these new ones to our fellowship, assuring them of our love, of our prayers, and of our care over them in days to come. Do you, the members of this church, receive these to our communion and fellowship as beloved brothers and sisters, and promise to walk with them in love, to instruct, counsel, admonish, and cherish them, and to watch over them with all long-suffering, gentleness, and love?
Congregation: We do.
Minister: O God of the church, we thank You for the blessing of Christian fellowship, for joining together in one body all those who truly believe in Jesus Christ, Your Son. We thank You for these who this day are becoming a part of this local church, this branch of Christ’s body. Grant to them the grace and strength they shall need to fulfill their vows, and bind our hearts together in Your holy love, that we may aid each other and that together we may share Your gospel with the world for which Christ died. In His name we pray. Amen.
5590. Right Hand of Fellowship.
Minister: And now, on behalf of The Wesleyan Church and of this local congregation, I extend to you the right hand of fellowship, welcoming you as members with us of the body of Christ.
5595. The service of reception may close with a hymn and a benediction such as the following:
Hymn. “Blest Be the Tie That Binds,” “Onward, Christian Soldiers,” “Lead On, O King Eternal,” “Soldiers of Christ, Arise.”
Benediction. Now unto Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.