Communing Non-Members

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RH54

Puritan Board Freshman
I am a Ruling Elder in the PCA and our local church has had some significant issues with heavily involved, communing non-members that continue to refuse to become members. They are Reformed-ish Baptists and don't want to become members for that reason, even though it has been explained multiple times that the PCA's membership vows mention nothing of infant baptism and are purely evangelical. They have been members of other evangelical churches in the past, so they currently are able to take part in The Lord's Supper. Like I mentioned previously, they are very involved in the church (multiple Bible studies, Sunday School, group activities) but obstinately refuse to become members.

Any thoughts, particularly from NAPARC officers?
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
If they have kids, then they should have their kids baptized. So that may be an issue for some who have kids.

If one is not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ, not a member of a visible church, then one ought not to be partaking in the Lord's Supper. The Lord's supper is for Christ's bride, for those who are part of the body. Those who aren't part of the body must be kept from the Supper.
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
I have been thinking about this issue for a while now. Is not baptism the only requirement for receiving the Lord's Supper? Of course the fencing of the table would require faith, which would exclude the young. I ask because to require vows to a local church adds something to becoming a member besides baptism. Sola Scriptura.
 

RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
How are they able to obey their rulers and submit to them if the keys of the kingdom cannot be exercised on them? Use of the keys assumes committed membership. The Table itself is a form of the instructional use of the disciplinary keys. And isn't baptism itself a sign of admission into the visible church, in which no small part is you now are a man under authority? Why then if they are baptized are they not committed somewhere? This is short of what the sign of baptism itself represents.

This also creates a table-fencing issue if you believe in a form of controlled communion.
 
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JollyGreenGavin

Puritan Board Freshman
Many SBC churches don't have elders, just deacons (
I would encourage the session to reach out to the churches of which these folks are members. In the SBC, I would start with the pastor, but may be handed off to the deacons.


Are they still on the rolls there?


If not, the removal from the rolls of the church is an act of discipline, they are not currently members of the visible church, and should be instructed that they should refrain from the table until they become members of a church and are under its authority.


If they are members in good standing at that church, then they are baptized members of the visible church (professing adults). According to the ARP Directory of Public Worship, and from my understanding of a quick read of the Westminster Directory of Public Worship, they should be allowed to take. However, the warning should be given that those that take in an unworthy manner eat and drink judgment on themselves.


I would follow up with the leaders of the church with which they are members and discuss their view of church membership and discipline. But if they are unwilling to do anything, I would say that your conscience should be clear. The church who has authority over them is saying they are part of the visible church.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
communing non-members that continue to refuse to become members.
Assuming that the session adopts the broad rule as permitted by the Constitutional standards of the church, the only question would be whether they are members in good standing of an evangelical church.

the minister, at the discretion of the Session, before the observance begins, may either invite all those who profess the true religion, and are communicants in good standing in any evangelical church, to participate in the ordinance; or may invite those who have been approved by the Session, after having given indication of their desire to participate.
BCO 58-4 emphasis supplied.

If they have been attending a good while, it's probably time to inquire as to their actual membership, and then contact their home church to verify good standing.

Do they have any real understanding of the sacraments?
 

RH54

Puritan Board Freshman
I think they have a limited knowledge of the sacraments, or at least a very individualistic view of the sacraments.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
I think they have a limited knowledge of the sacraments, or at least a very individualistic view of the sacraments.
Please fix your signature as per the board rules. Follow the link in my signature to find out how.
 

De Jager

Puritan Board Freshman
I am a Ruling Elder in the PCA and our local church has had some significant issues with heavily involved, communing non-members that continue to refuse to become members. They are Reformed-ish Baptists and don't want to become members for that reason, even though it has been explained multiple times that the PCA's membership vows mention nothing of infant baptism and are purely evangelical. They have been members of other evangelical churches in the past, so they currently are able to take part in The Lord's Supper. Like I mentioned previously, they are very involved in the church (multiple Bible studies, Sunday School, group activities) but obstinately refuse to become members.

Any thoughts, particularly from NAPARC officers?
I am not a NAPARC officer, but my experience as a visitor in a NAPARC church (a URC) was that in order to take communion I was required to sign an affirmation that I was a member of a church and that I affirmed the three forms of unity and/or the Westminster standards.
 

Grafted In

Puritan Board Freshman
I am a Ruling Elder in the PCA and our local church has had some significant issues with heavily involved, communing non-members that continue to refuse to become members. They are Reformed-ish Baptists and don't want to become members for that reason, even though it has been explained multiple times that the PCA's membership vows mention nothing of infant baptism and are purely evangelical. They have been members of other evangelical churches in the past, so they currently are able to take part in The Lord's Supper. Like I mentioned previously, they are very involved in the church (multiple Bible studies, Sunday School, group activities) but obstinately refuse to become members.

Any thoughts, particularly from NAPARC officers?
I tell those coming into our church's fellowship who claim to know Christ that they are not so much called to "become" members of a local church as they are as members of the universal body of Christ to submit to the church (Ephesians 5:21), including its elders who must give account for their souls.

And I cannot let people participate in things over which I as an elder am supposed to have oversight unless I have oversight over them, because then I would give up some of my ability to oversee it. And I don't assume to have oversight over anyone who walks in the door of the church or even anyone who sticks around for a while and "gets involved." People must willingly submit to Christ and His church and it is only logical that they should tell the officers of the church that they are submitting themselves to in obedience to Christ that they are coming under their oversight, knowing that those men need to know whom they are accountable for.

I would ask these folks where are the elders they are submitted to who have oversight of their Christian faith and life. And if they aren't submitted to elders in this way, they are disobeying the Lord Jesus Christ and are not fully under His care. If they claim to be under your oversight, then you can tell them you will assume oversight over them, adding them to the roll of the church, once you and the church body have heard their profession of faith and their intention to be submitted to your local body.

That is another aspect of having people interviewed by the session and then put before the congregation to profession or reaffirm their faith. That is how the session lets the body know that the session believes these people are sheep and not wolves and therefore the session calls on the rest of the body to receive them as such, which includes mutual submission in the giving and receiving of the gift of Christ that is in each one.

That is how we talk about these things in my congregation.
 

Susan777

Puritan Board Sophomore
I am not a NAPARC officer, but my experience as a visitor in a NAPARC church (a URC) was that in order to take communion I was required to sign an affirmation that I was a member of a church and that I affirmed the three forms of unity and/or the Westminster standards.
Interesting. When I visited a URC years ago I didn’t have to sign anything but I had to meet with the consistory and affirm my belief in the Real Presence, which I happily did.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
I am not a NAPARC officer, but my experience as a visitor in a NAPARC church (a URC) was that in order to take communion I was required to sign an affirmation that I was a member of a church and that I affirmed the three forms of unity and/or the Westminster standards.
Most PCA churches are much looser than that - the pastor fences the table (and some are much better than others with that) but it is on the partaker if he wrongly consumes the elements.
 

De Jager

Puritan Board Freshman
Interesting. When I visited a URC years ago I didn’t have to sign anything but I had to meet with the consistory and affirm my belief in the Real Presence, which I happily did.
I would not expect all URCs to be the same. They are by definition independent reformed churches. It is not a denomination like the PCA.
 

Susan777

Puritan Board Sophomore
I would not expect all URCs to be the same. They are by definition independent reformed churches. It is not a denomination like the PCA.
I didn’t realize that. So there’s no court system to adjudicate errors or complaints? What then is the function of a classis?
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
I am a Ruling Elder in the PCA and our local church has had some significant issues with heavily involved, communing non-members that continue to refuse to become members. They are Reformed-ish Baptists and don't want to become members for that reason,
Assuming that the session adopts the broad rule as permitted by the Constitutional standards of the church, the only question would be whether they are members in good standing of an evangelical church.
I understand that being a member in good standing has a wide range of understanding probably. It seems that a person who refuses to attend the Church they are members of without good reason should be considered to have issues concerning the matter of good standing. Maybe we even need to define what membership in good standing looks like.

These people are not just visiting or passing through it seems. There is a disconnect somewhere in this situation.

BTW, I was a member of Trinity Presbyterian PCA in Brownsburg for awhile around 2005 I think and I was a Credo only Reformed Baptist.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
BTW, I was a member of Trinity Presbyterian PCA in Brownsburg for awhile around 2005 I think and I was a Credo only Reformed Baptist.
No problem(fn1) with Baptists joining PCA churches, they just can't serve as officers. As far as 'members in good standing', that call is really one for the baptist church in which they are claiming membership. If Fellowship Family says they are members in good standing despite not attending or giving, I'm not sure I'd second guess their informed judgment.

fn1: Except the well discussed issue of not bringing their infant children before the church for baptism. Discuss and stall for a decade or so, and that should work itself out....
 

Jake

Puritan Board Junior
Interesting. When I visited a URC years ago I didn’t have to sign anything but I had to meet with the consistory and affirm my belief in the Real Presence, which I happily did.
This was my experience communing with a URC church, right down to the "Real Presence" question which threw me off a bit. They were fine when I explained when I basically believed it was "really and indeed, yet not carnally and corporally, but spiritually...the body and blood of Christ."


To the bigger question around NAPARC churches and openness of communion, I've found in some PCA, RPCNA, URCNA churches I had to meet with the session before partaking, ranging from an interview to simply affirming I was a member in good standing of a recognized church. I've only come across OPC and ARP churches doing a verbal fencing at time of administration, though I believe some will require meeting beforehand.
 

PaulCLawton

Puritan Board Freshman
In the URCNA, according to our CO "...Visitors may be admitted provided that, as much as possible, the Consistory is assured of their biblical church membership, of their proper profession of faith, and of their godly walk."

In our local church our consistory seeks to be assured of requirements 2 and 3 above via a short interview with the visitors who also must sign a form, a portion of which is sent back to the visitor's local church. For point 1, we interpret it according to Belgic 29, therefore ordinarily limiting visitors to churches in NAPARC and/or churches with whom the URCNA has established ecclesiastical fellowship.

As has been mentioned above, there is a wide range of practices in the federation, even within our own classis.
 

Jake

Puritan Board Junior
For point 1, we interpret it according to Belgic 29, therefore ordinarily limiting visitors to churches in NAPARC and/or churches with whom the URCNA has established ecclesiastical fellowship.
At the URCNA congregation at which I communed (in California), I had to convince two ruling elders that the ARP Church does in fact exist and that it is a part of NAPARC. The second largest church in NAPARC no less, with a church plant down the road from them. :)
 

PaulCLawton

Puritan Board Freshman
At the URCNA congregation at which I communed (in California), I had to convince two ruling elders that the ARP Church does in fact exist and that it is a part of NAPARC. The second largest church in NAPARC no less, with a church plant down the road from them. :)
That is both unfortunate and a little funny. We actually maintain a list for the elders' reference at the Lord's Supper visitor's table that lists NAPARC churches and those with whom we have ecclesiastical fellowship.
 
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