Friday, October 15, 2010

Communicant Membership and why its important: Revised

This Sunday our church, Redeemer Pres, will be receiving two new communicant members. They are sister and brother in the 7th and 8th grade respectively. The only thing that is kind of weird is that outside a youth baptism, where we did receive her as a communicant member (kids become members when their parents join the church by profession of faith), we've not recently (the last communicants class has been several years) made a distinction betwixt member and communicant membership.

But there's a serious problem. Most Baptistic folks rightly find it special to declare VERBALLY that they in fact do personally believe in Jesus. For Baptists, this time is special because the child, youth, or adult now owns their own faith. And of course, whenever Presbyterians perform a believers' baptism it is also special. Less water, but just as special.

So if you join a Presbyterian church, or are persuaded to join the Dark Side on this issue (depending on who you ask!), do you forsake a special opportunity and sacrament? 

No, not at all, if the church follows the scriptural pattern of the Old and New Testament.

At some point in time, the baptized child, who has the sign and seal of God's Covenant Promise (the sacrament seals the PROMISE, not the PERSON-a Presbyterian distinction) still must decide one day if he will be a covenant keeper or a covenant breaker. When he/she decides to take in Jesus for himself/herself, he/she has the opportunity to make that public profession before Jesus and His congregation by affirming the gospel and concomitant scriptural membership vows-simply what it means to be a member of God's Covenant community.

THEN, the professing believer is invited to commune (hence the word "communicant") at the communion table. He has declared what he/she believes to be true and now partakes in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper.  He/she belongs there because of the work of the Holy Spirit. This is no less a joyous occasion than a baptism, and this is what is happening this Sunday.

At Redeemer, we're hoping to give believing children and youth an opportunity to profess Jesus publicly by going through a brief 4 part study based upon the gospel and membership vows. We're hoping children and youth will see this as an opportunity to exalt the saving work of Christ in their specific lives.


Anonymous said...

Specifically what Scripural patterns of the Old and New Testaments are you not following at Redeemer regarding this baptism topic?

Jesse said...

Are you saying that a baptized infant (let's say a 6 yr. old) cannot/should not partake of communion until a profession of faith is made via the 4-part study? If so, to be consistent that would treat the child as outside of the New Covenant sign (the water and wine.) To me that would cause discontinuity with the OT as how Communion relates to the Passover. In Ex. 12:26 the children would ask their Dads "why are we doing this?" and the answer would be to remember what God has done in delivering us out of Egypt. Are we not saying the very same thing with Communion now, remembering what Christ has done for us? And wouldn't that put the focus on the child’s obedience (4-part study and faith profession) for Communion?

I could be wrong in that you are more specifically talking about those older children that come into the church when their parents join. I guess I'm thrown off by your point of the baptized child deciding on being a covenant breaker or keeper.

Just some thoughts my friend...

Geoffsnook said...


I'm really just talking about communion. Redeemer isn't doing anything necessarily wrong.

The pattern we want to follow is baptism (circumcision in OT)-then profession of faith-then communion (Passover meal).

Both Barret and I just want to make a bigger deal about children making personal professions of faith.

Geoffsnook said...


The baptized child is supposed to be a believer before partaking of baptism.

What we do now is fence the table and don't want baptized children to partake of communion unless they are able to discern the body and the blood (I Cor 11). We've understood that as at the very least having saving faith.

What we want to do now is simply allow them to profess faith. They are already coming to the table which is saying with their actions, that they do believe. We just want to give them a chance to verbally proclaim publicly what is true internally.

What you seem to be advocating is paedo-communion, which is outside the practice of our denomination.

Yep, I'm aware of the Exodus passage. But there is some discontinuity between old and new cov't. It is not perfect continunity.

I really don't understand your last question though bro. We can talk in person if you want to.

But I don't think I'm saying anything that crazy. I just want children who have faith to profess it, and then come to the Table.

Jesse said...

I think we are looking past each other on two separate categories. I was asking what the church does with a baptized infant as they mature. When does the baptized infant (which is considered apart of the Covenant community) capable of actually taking Communion. Meaning is the table kept from them (fence the table) until they reach a point personal faith. I completely agree about an older child's personal profession/belief (even making sure they understand with a 4-part study). I'm not advocating paedo-communion per se, just tying to wrap my thoughts around what goes on at Redeemer compared with other Presbies. Sorry for the confusion bro.

Geoffsnook said...


OK bro, I think I understand the question better now bro!

Barret and I both would say that the child needs to believe personally before they partake of the Lord's Supper.

However, I do realize this is a DISCONTINUITY in the New Cov't. So I understand the Paedo communion argument, but that passage in I Cor 11 clears things up for me.

Some PCA churches require a class, as well as a public profession of faith. These classes vary in length.

But all PCA churches require personal faith as a pre-requisite to the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. The BCO (the book of church order) does require that partakers of the Lord's Supper must be baptized believers who have a credible profession of faith before the elders or membership in evangelical church.

That does not mean that all children have professed faith before the elders, but that is our standard.

So yep, we really can't get around that one!

Now, of course, it only has to be an age appropriate faith.

I think the OPC does Paedo-communion.

I appreciate the dialog brother. Its made me think some more, which is never a bad thing! We can talk more if you want bro!