Every person who steps onto our property at 100 Saint Helena Avenue is our welcome guest. Each can expect to find friendliness, cleanliness, and safety with us. On Sunday mornings, families with small children should enter at the door closest to the parking lot. Just inside they’ll find our fully-staffed and-eqipped preschool suite. Others may enter at any door until fifteen minutes after services begin, when all doors to the building except the main entrance (the double doors with the cross-shaped windows) are locked. We want everyone to know that, while every person of good will is welcome to come and seek God with us, we remain committed to security on the property. We want everyone to be able to hear, believe, and live the good news of Jesus.

Those who have come as guests several times are people we consider our friends. Because we’re friends, we’ll enroll you in a small group like Sunday School, and do our best to know you more and serve you well. Because we’re called to love you, we’ll strive to include you and show you the love of Jesus. Eventually, after a few weeks or months, that love will move us to seek to move you toward full engagement in the church family as a covenant member. There is no cutoff point, no set maximum time for someone to remain at the “friend” stage. We just want you to know that we’ll always aim for what God says is best for you. And God says it’s best for you to have a church family.

Not members like in a club; members like in a body, as the Bible describes in 1 Corinthians 12. Jesus wants each of his followers to be a fully-functioning part of a church body, a faith family where we can help each other, strengthen each other, encourage each other, pray for each other, correct each other, (sometimes just) put up with each other, forgive each other, assure each other, and (above all else) love each other.

Of course, loving others is a fine idea until you actually have to deal with real people; real people require real love, not just the make-believe stuff. That’s why Jesus wants each of us bumping up against other believers in a church family. Baptist Christians have long believed that those family-type relationships will best flourish where there is an explicit covenant that spells out what we can and should expect from each other. So membership in Dundalk’s First Baptist Church means committing yourself to covenant.

Please understand, we’re not saying people have to be perfect to be part of the church. No way. All of us are people broken by sin, both our own sins and others’ sins against us. All of us are accepted by God only by his grace, at the cost of his Son’s death for us on the cross. Yet Jesus is not dead! He is alive, and that means we are alive with him. That doesn’t make us perfect people, but it does make us different people: different from who we used to be, and committed to growing even more different than we are now.

The Lord Jesus wants you to be a fully-integrated part of some church family somewhere. We deeply want you to be part of our covenant family, Dundalk’s First Baptist Church. So come on! We’re waiting to call you part of our family.