Membership & Baptism

MEMBERSHIP

At Cornerstone, our members are those who have proclaimed faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins, have professed this faith through baptism, and have entered into covenant relationship with those who make up Emmaus for the purpose of declaring and displaying the gospel to each other and to the world.

When Cornerstone enters into covenant membership with you, we are testifying that to the best of our knowledge, you are a follower of Jesus. This should be a very encouraging affirmation! When you are doubting, when you find yourself in sin and shame, when you fear that God's salvation is not for you, covenant membership serves as a reminder that there is an entire faith family that testifies (to the best of their knowledge) to your salvation. 

Likewise, when you are in sin, and your sinful heart refuses to repent of the sin and seek forgiveness and healing, the covenant members of the church walk with you, in grace and truth, to help you see your sin, confess your sin, and turn from your sin before it destroys you. This is an act of gracious love and why we find much value in covenant membership. 

HOW LONG DO YOU RECOMMEND WE ATTEND CORNERSTONE BEFORE JOINING? 
We suggest waiting 6 months to join. Like any relationship, it takes time to get to know one another. 
WHAT IS COVERED IS DISCOVER CORNERSTONE MEMBERSHIP CLASS?

Our beliefs, values and commitments, practices and affiliations.

WHAT IS THE PROCESS TO JOIN CORNERSTONE?

If you are interested in considering membership at Cornerstone of Lakewood Ranch, the process is as follows: 

1. Sign up & attend Discover Cornerstone Weekend

2. Apply for Membership. Please fill out the membership form for each adult in the household prior to signing up for an elder interview. 

MEMBERSHIP INTERVIEW & COVENANT

3. Once the forms have been submitted, Schedule an interview with an Elder

4. Session approves individual membership. Membership is official at this stage of the process. 

5. Sunday morning membership induction.  

WHEN ARE THE DISCOVER CLASSES OFFERED? 

We offer the Discover Cornerstone classes two times per year in March and SEPTEMBER. Please click here to learn more

IF MY MS OR HS STUDENT WOULD LIKE TO JOIN, WHAT IS THE PROCESS?

At this time, youth age who would like to become members of the church should request an interview with one of our elders:

REQUEST AN INTERVIEW


BAPTISM

Baptism opportunities occur 4 times per year (January, May, September & November). Adults interested in membership who have never been baptized will be baptized when they join Cornerstone of Lakewood Ranch. Children of adults joining can also be baptized on the Membership Induction Day if their parents so choose. Parents who are already members can schedule a baptism for their child(ren). 

WHAT  IS BAPTISM? 
Baptism is a sacrament ordained by our Lord Jesus Christ.  In baptism two things are communicated. First, baptism signifies our union with Christ and our participation in all of his saving work (cleansing and forgiveness of sins, regeneration and new life, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit). Second, baptism signifies our initiation into the Christian life and consequently the community of God.
OUR PRACTICE OF BAPTISM
At Cornerstone we regularly baptize two groups of people.  The first group consists of the infants and children of members of Cornerstone. This practice is commonly referred to as ‘infant baptism’.  The second group consist of adults, youth, and children who profess and have demonstrated faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and desire to becomes members of Cornerstone.  This practice is commonly referred to as ‘believer’s Baptism’.  
IS THERE ANY BIBLICAL SUPPORT FOR BAPTIZING INFANTS? 

In the New Testament, baptism replaces circumcision as the sign of the covenant.

Colossians 2:11-12 teaches that baptism is the full expression of circumcision. The covenant of circumcision required that the infant male be circumcised as a newborn infant (Genesis 17:12), and this covenant was to be an everlasting covenant (Genesis 17:13). Physical circumcision is clearly no longer in effect (Galatians 6:11-18), but the covenant it represents is still in effect (Romans 2:29). The new outward sign of this “everlasting” covenant with believers and their children is baptism (Colossians 2:1112). Therefore, we believe it follows, then, that baptism is to be administered to the children of believing parents.

 Acts 2:38-39 describes baptism with virtually the same language and terms with which Genesis 17:9-14 describes circumcision. The promise connected with baptism in Acts 2:38-39 explicitly includes the children of believers, as did the promise connected with circumcision in Genesis 17:9-14. No mention of a required age or profession of faith is made with respect to such children.

 As circumcision was a requirement for the Old Testament household (Genesis 17:10, 12-13), so, we believe, was baptism for the New Testament household (Acts 16:15, 31-33; 1 Corinthians 1:16). Never once are children said to be excluded from a household baptism, except in the case of the Ethiopian eunuch, who obviously had no children.

 There is no biblical command given for believers to cease the application of the covenant sign with their children. 

 In the New Testament, believers’ children were regarded as members of the covenant community.

In Luke 18:15-17, Jesus said that God’s Kingdom belongs to little children (from the Greek brephe, which literally means “baby” or “infant”).

 In Ephesians 6:1-4 and Colossians 3:20-21 Paul addresses children (from the Greek tekna, meaning “child”) as believers in Christ. He speaks to them as he would any saint, regardless of age.

 In 1 Corinthians 7:14 Paul refers to the children (tekna) of believers as “holy” (meaning set apart for God). The word translated “holy” (hagia) is the exact same word used elsewhere by the apostles in reference to believers (translated “saints” – see Ephesians 1:1, for example). The New Testament assumption, then, is that children of believers should be regarded and treated as believers unless or until they prove themselves to be covenant breakers.

 In 2 Timothy 3:15, Timothy is said to have known the Scriptures from infancy (brephe).

 In Luke 1:15, John the Baptist is said to have been filled with the Spirit, “even from his mother’s womb”. The New Testament suggests nowhere that the sign of the covenant (previously circumcision, now baptism) is to be withheld from the children of believers until they make an informed profession of faith in Christ.

IS THERE ANY HISTORICAL SUPPORT FOR BAPTIZING INFANTS? 

It is a well-attested fact that household/infant baptism was the universal practice of the early church. No reputable biblical historian or scholar, whether Presbyterian or Baptist or otherwise, will dispute this fact. Irenaeus (a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of the apostle John) speaks of infant baptism as a universal practice in the early church. Tertullian (end of 2nd century) acknowledged the universal practice of infant baptism. Origen (2nd and 3rd centuries) spoke of infant baptism as the common practice of the early church. These things being the case, were household (and consequently infant) baptism not the New Testament church practice, then the conclusion must be made that a full reversal of the early church’s practice occurred immediately following the death of the last apostle. Because there is neither biblical nor extra-biblical evidence indicating so much as a debate about this issue in the first or second centuries, such a reversal is extremely unlikely. We conclude this in large part because there is a wealth of documentation about virtually every other theological debate and/or alleged ‘heresy’ in the early church.

ARE WE SAYING THAT WATER BAPTISM SAVES CHILDREN?

No.  Nor does baptism guarantee the salvation of older children or adults. In order to be saved, a child must possess his/her own personal faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord.  When a child professes faith at some point after baptism, that is the time in which the baptism and all that it signifies takes full effect. Until that time, the child’s baptism is regarded as the sign of the child’s inclusion in the church community (and all its benefits, except the Lord’s Supper) by virtue.

WHAT IF I STILL DON'T AGREE WITH CORNERSTONE'S BELIEFS ON BAPTISM? 

We encourage household baptism at Cornerstone for those who agree with our beliefs as a church, but we certainly do not require it of those who don’t. Parents who are not convinced of our position are fully embraced as members of our church community. This is an issue about which we are happy to disagree without it being any hindrance at all to full Christian fellowship. We work hard to make sure this ‘non-essential’ issue doesn't become an essential one.

WHAT IS THE BAPTISM PROCESS?

When parents are ready, as early as 3 – 6 months, children can be brought before the congregation for baptism. While Cornerstone embraces infant baptism, we gladly baptize individuals of all ages who have not previously been baptized. As with membership, the requirement for baptism is a profession and demonstration of faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

  1. Request a baptism (Please include name, name of children to be baptized, birthdates and address)  Email: Hilary Nelson
  2. Upon confirmation from the office, read: 'What Christian Parents Should Know About Infant Baptism' by John P. Sartelle. (Office will mail out a copy of the book to your home)
  3. Schedule a baptism meeting with the pastor. This will be done after step 2 has taken place. Katelyn Pisa, our Admin Asst. will schedule this meeting. 

For general questions about baptism, please email: Hilary Nelson