Christ Lutheran Church Stover, MO
Christ Lutheran Church
Monday, November 12, 2018
Loving GOD Through Worship and Service
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Pastor Tuura

 

Membership Lists

 

By Rev. Tom Tuura

Pastor of Christ Lutheran Church


At our Sunday evening Bible Study we were discussing membership in the church. What qualifies a person as a member? That’s a good question. Is it who you are? Is it where you live? Is it where you came from? These questions have been asked and discussed over long centuries of time. Is there a definitive answer? Yes there is. The Bible answers that question. The church is the body of Christ. This is reflected in passages throughout the New Testament, such as 1 Cor. 12:27. Lets take a brief step back, and look at what Christ said in Matthew 16:18, “...on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” So the first principles are the Words of Christ, “I will build my church”. We see here the first person voice and the possessive “my”. That’s the foundation dear reader. Everyone has an opinion about the church, but here we leave them at the door. There’s no opinion here. It is what it is. Practically who are actual members of the church? Again looking to the New Testament, we read in Acts 2:47, “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” Now the road from the second chapter of Acts to 505 West 2 nd Street in Stover is an admittedly long road. But the truth still applies. I guess it comes down to membership lists. God has a book of names, called the Lambs book of life. Revelation 20:12-15 “And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” This is God’s Church membership list. You and I want to make good and sure our names are in that Book of Life. Our membership list hopefully overlaps that one very closely. But the problem is we can’t tell, because only God sees our hearts. History has shown that there are people who outwardly associate with the church for various reasons. And its the pastor’s as well as fellow member’s role to challenge one another to repent according to Acts 2:38 “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent and let everyone be baptized...” and to put their faith and trust in Christ. So how is it with you? Are you trusting Christ alone for your salvation, for your church membership? If you are a church member on this earth, but not a member of Christ’s kingdom through a living faith, what value is that? In our 125 th history book, are all of the various constitutions of our church. This book is proving very valuable to us today. Each time there was a denominational merger there was a new constitution ratified; 1930, 1962, 1987 and 2011. The exception is our current constitution which is a result of not a merger, but a denominational change due to false doctrine in the denomination. Looking at the earliest constitution (undated) regarding membership it reads: “Paragraph IV Who wants to become a member of the parish, will have to follow these rules: “3. That he lives a clean Christian way of life and for his sins and misbehavior he does repentance.” “Paragraph VII those who wish to join the parish must announce to the pastor first. He then has to find out if there are any misdeeds according to Paragraph IV that must be removed...” So back to our list here under the water tower. There are many reasons to join our congregation. And reading our current constitution, there are a couple of options for membership. They are confirmed membership and associate membership. This is from page 10 of our current document. 8.01 Members of this congregation shall be those baptized persons on the roll of this congregation at the time that this constitution is adopted and those who are admitted thereafter and who have declared and maintain their membership in accordance with the provisions of this constitution and its bylaws. 8.02 Members shall be classified as follows: 1. Baptized members are those persons who have been received by the Sacrament of Holy Baptism in this congregation, or having been previously baptized in the name of the Triune God, have been received by certificate of transfer from other Lutheran congregations or by affirmation of faith. 2. Confirmed members are baptized persons who have been confirmed in this congregation, those who have been received by adult baptism or by transfer as confirmed members from other Lutheran congregations, or baptized persons received by affirmation of faith. 3. Voting members are confirmed members. Such confirmed members, during the current or preceding calendar year, shall have communed in this congregation and shall have made a contribution of record to this congregation. See Bylaws Section 1. 4. Associate members are persons holding membership in other Lutheran or Christian congregations who wish to retain such membership but desire to participate in the life and mission of this congregation, or persons who wish to retain a relationship with this congregation while being members of other congregations. They have all the privileges and duties of membership except voting rights and eligibility for elected offices or membership on the Congregation Council of this congregation. 8.03 All applications for confirmed membership shall be submitted to and shall require the approval of the Congregation Council. 8.04 It shall be the privilege and duty of members of this congregation to: 5. Make regular use of the means of grace, both Word and Sacraments; 6. Live a Christian life in accordance with the Word of God and the teachings of the Lutheran church; and 7. Support the work of this congregation through contributions of their time, abilities, and financial support as well as biblical stewards as an expression of gratitude and obedience and in the acknowledgment that all we are and have come as gifts from God. Its interesting to note that the associate member paragraph was new to the 1987 constitution, ratified when the ELCA merger occurred, our previous affiliation. It appears it was then transferred word for word to the current document. We have many people who have an interest in this kind of membership, due to their current church situation. See the pastor or deacons if you are interested. A word about the office of pastor. Each constitution has specific items for this office. In addition, I have taken sacred vows before our AFLC upon my ordination. But most importantly, I serve Jesus Christ as undershepherd of His flock. So my concern is primarily for your soul. Of course I want you on our membership list. But my accountability before God is to do whatever I can to make sure your name is written in the Lamb’s book of life. We will all sit down at the wedding supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:7-9) “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, Write: Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb! And he said to me, These are the true sayings of God.” It is inconceivable that anyone’s name not be found in the book of life. Do you want to join the church? Its much more than a piece of paper.

 

"That's My View From The Blackberry Patch Pulpit" 

-Pastor Tom Tuura