Thursday, October 21, 2010

Active Members?

Sometimes we will talk about active members. Active membership.

I think this is poor language.

Why? Membership in the Church is not determined by or centered around my activity. To be in the Church is to be in the Body of Christ - it is to be an attendee, an recipient of Communion, a participant in the things of worship.

When we speak of "active" we aren't focusing on the worship life on a congregation. I have people who are very active - who will help out with social events and the like - but attending worship... eh, rare. But they are "active"... they are serving and showing love.

But that's secondary, not primary. We've made it primary with our language.


Zach said...

Love this! Before arriving at confessional Lutheranism, this was my lot in life. My experience with the Church was hearing pastors subtely compare how some people were working really hard, how they were active. This partly depressed me, but mostly angered me. I haven't been in Lutheranism very long, and haven't heard this rhetoric yet, but I sure hope I do not! It was this kind of stuff that heaped a lot of unnecessary guilt on myself and other. Thank you for this post!

Rev. Eric J Brown said...


It comes up most when a congregation turns in on itself. . . when it's budget is tight, when attendance is down and we get worried about keep ourselves afloat - when we start worrying about the specific institution. It's also when I like to throw in hymn 645.

Built on the Rock, the Church doth stand/
Even when steeples are falling/
Crumbled have spires in every land/
Bells still are chiming and calling/ calling the young and the old to... rest/
But above all the souls distressed/
longing for rest everlasting.