Why Should I Join?
Here are six reasons to consider membership at Parkland Lutheran, followed by information on how to join:
1. God Wants You to Be Saved
“[God our Savior] desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). The most important kind of church membership is membership in the Holy Christian Church, which is made up of all believers in Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Savior of sinners.
2. God Wants You to Grow in Faith
“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). Believers in Christ want to learn more and to be kept in the faith by the power of the Holy Spirit working through the Word. Providing opportunities to grow in the Word is the central purpose of all Christian congregations. “[G]row in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).
3. God Wants You to Encourage Others
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” ( Hebrews 10:24-25). It is for our benefit that God wants us to associate with other Christians, for mutual consolation and strengthening. “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42).
4. God Wants You to Have a Pastor
To pastors God says, “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which He obtained with His own blood” (Acts 20:28). To individual Christians God says, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account” (Hebrews 13:17). The authority God mentions is not ruler-ship as we usually think of it, but it is the authority of God’s Word. God calls pastors to proclaim His Word on His behalf and for the sake of His people.
5. God Wants You to Seek Unity in the Faith
“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:5-6). When we join a Christian congregation we want to make sure it teaches only what is clearly taught in the Bible – no more, no less. This means that we will want to examine the teachings of that church and seek unity without compromise. “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them” (Romans 16:17).
6. God Wants You to Examine Yourself
“Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself” (1 Corinthians 11:28-29). Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper for our regular use. Before we partake, it is important that we recognize the great gifts offered in this Supper, and what God requires of any Christian who approaches His table. “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26).
How Do I Join?
If you are a member of an Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS) or Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) congregation, you need to contact the pastor of your church and request a transfer of membership to Parkland Lutheran. Their voters will meet to grant the transfer and will send notification to Parkland. The Parkland voters will then officially receive you into communicant membership.
If you are a member of a Lutheran congregation outside of our fellowship, you will want to meet with one of the pastors to determine if your beliefs and confessions about God and His Word agree with the beliefs and confessions of Parkland Lutheran Church. If there is agreement, he will recommend that you be received into membership by Profession of Faith. If there is not agreement, he will advise you to take the Christianity 101 class to see if fellowship can be established on the basis of God’s Word. If agreement were reached, you would need to request a release of membership from your congregation and would then be received into Parkland’s membership by Profession of Faith.
If you are a member of a non-Lutheran congregation, you will be required to attend the Christianity 101 class so you know exactly what we teach at Parkland Lutheran. If you find yourself in agreement with us, you would want to inform your former congregation of your intention to join Parkland. Those who have not been baptized are then received into communicant membership through Baptism. Those who have been baptized already are received by Confirmation.
If you are not a member of any Christian congregation, you would be asked to do the same as those in the previous paragraph, with the exception of informing any former congregation.
These descriptions are provided to give you a general idea of what procedures we follow at Parkland Lutheran. If you have any questions about this, the pastors would be glad to set up a time to visit with you.