The Presbyterian Church's Foundational
 Principles for Governance
Chapter 4 - The Church and Its Members

The Meaning of Membership

The incarnation of God in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ gives to the church its understanding of membership. One becomes an active member of the church through faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and acceptance of his Lordship in all of life. 

Baptism and a public profession of faith in Jesus as Lord are the visible signs of entrance into the active membership of the church. Accepting the privilege and responsibility of membership in the church is a commitment to Jesus Christ that binds the individual to fulfillment of the obligations of membership. Members shall regularly review and evaluate the integrity of their commitment. 


Each member shall seek the grace of openness in extending the fellowship of Christ to all persons. The congregation shall welcome all persons who respond in trust and obedience to God’s grace in Jesus Christ and desire to become part of the membership and ministry of the Church. Failure to do so constitutes a rejection of Christ himself and causes a scandal to the gospel. 

Preparation for Membership

The session has responsibility for preparing those who would become members of the congregation. It is left to the prudence of the session to judge, after appropriate instruction and careful examination, the readiness of those who apply for active membership. No persons shall be denied membership for any reason not related to profession of faith. 

Membership as Ministry

A faithful member accepts Christ’s call to be involved responsibly in the ministry of his Church. Such involvement includes:

  1. proclaiming the good news,
  2. taking part in the common life and worship of a particular church,
  3. praying and studying Scripture and the faith of the Christian Church,
  4. supporting the work of the church through the giving of money, time, and talents,
  5. participating in the governing responsibilities of the church,
  6. demonstrating a new quality of life within and through the church,
  7. responding to God’s activity in the world through service to others,
  8. living responsibly in the personal, family, vocational, political, cultural, and social relationships of life,
  9. working in the world for peace, justice, freedom, and human fulfillment.