Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Church Membership.

The first rule of Church Membership is you will attend services.

The second rule of Church Membership is you WILL ATTEND services.

The third rule of Church Membership is you will strive to grow in knowledge by reading good books and showing up to bible classes.

The fourth rule of Church Membership is when you go to bible classes, you go to learn, not demonstrate how smart you are.

The fifth rule of Church Membership is you will be polite - you are a member, not a boss, not a tyrant. You don't become a Church Member to beat on other people - that's some other club.

The sixth rule of Church Membership is you will support your congregation with cash and talents and time.

The seventh rule of Church Membership is you will remain an active member as long as is required - i.e. death or the second coming.

The eighth rule of Church Membership is this: if this is your first time as a Member of an LCMS congregation, you have to take an extensive theology class.


Anonymous said...

Not sure about the 6th rule...certainly you think this will flow as a result of the gospel, but I'm not sure the NT makes it into the law that you do here. Frankly, I think the church could use more Mary's and less Martha's (and then maybe you wouldn't need your 5th rule). The first two are good and important since that is where the Means of Grace can be found, but really, aren't the vows that one takes sufficient upon becoming a member sufficient? The 8th rule is definitely one that should be applied more frequently.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Actually, if you join a congregation in the LCMS, you promise to support that congregation with your time, talents, and treasures. Part of Christianity is supporting those who preach and keeping the preaching places (i.e. Churches) open.

And this is in the catechism as well - check out Luther in the Table of duties on what hearers owe their pastors.

Anonymous said...

I must be missing something because I don't recall making such a vow when I converted (perhaps that was the fault of local congregation) and don't see it in the Table of Duties either. My point is not that Christians don't have an obligation to financially support the pastor and the church, I completely agree. However, I do think some churches think that every member needs to assist with every potluck, dog and pony show that the church or pastor finds beneficial. It seems we've lost touch in many cases that the only thing that matters is the Divine Service - too much of the other business isn't necessarily a good thing. But, when your rule says time, talents, and treasure this layman thinks that i need to serve on every committee that you ask me to.

Mike Baker said...


I'm pretty sure that the passage against idleness in II Thessalonians chapter 3 is a pretty clear instruction against
"free loading" in the Christian community. We are not to grow weary in doing good and bear one another's burdens.

So, in your potluck example, if one does not work... let him not eat.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...


On page 33 of the current Agenda, a member who is joining the congregation is asked:

Will you support the work our gracious Lord has given this congregation with your prayers and the gifts God has given you?

The work of the Congregation is chiefly the Divine Service. Members have a responsibility to see that it goes on. That requires funds. Simple as that.

Also, with the table of duties - the 2nd question, what the hearers owe their pastors.

1 - The Lord has commanded that those who preach the Gospel should receive their living from the Gospel (1 Cor. 9:14)

2 - Anyone who receives instruction in the Word must share all good things with his instructor. Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. (Galatians 6:6-7)

3 - The elders who direct the affairs of the Church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, 'Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,' and 'The worker deserves his wages.' (1 Tim 5:17-18)
( note: "honor" here doesn't just mean respect - you don't double respect. Your "honor" was your share of the booty - in the Iliad, when Bresies is taken from Achilles, he complains that his "honor" has been taken - because she was the prize the Greeks had given to him for his valor in combat. This use of honor still shows up in the word "honorarium". That is why it talks about wages right after it)

4 - We ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in Peace with Each Other. (1 Thess 5:12-13)

5 - Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you. (Hebrew 13:17)
( note here - my authority is the authority of preaching and teaching - not organizing potlucks)

In those 5 verses, 3 of them directly deal with financial support.

Now, do we focus too much on volunteerism - perhaps. You shouldn't have to help with "every" thing - but if you have talents, they should be put into use. You should aid as time allows. That's part and parcel of being a member of the Church.

It sounds like the problem isn't you, it sounds like others aren't using their time, talents, and treasure.