On the back of our worship bulletin, in the staff section, there is the heading “Ministers” and across the column it reads, “The Whole Congregation.” It looks good, it may sound idealistic, but we are not trying to be cute; at Brookings Presbyterian we believe in “The Priesthood of all Believers” and this means that we are all called to use our gifts in some ministry to build up the body of Christ known as the Church.
For us to accomplish that mission statement we have been discussing and reviewing this year, we must be a ministry of all our members, not just a ministry of the Pastor, Session, or Board of Deacons.
Faith is learned, experienced, strengthened, and enjoyed, as we share faith together. In case this sounds radical or scary we need to remember that this vision is exactly what the Presbyterian Book of Order describes in its discussion of active membership.
G-1.0301 The Meaning of Membership “In Jesus Christ, God calls people to faith and to membership in the Church, the body of Christ. Baptism is the visible sign of that call and claim on a human life and of entrance into the membership of the church. The baptism of children witnesses to the truth that God’s love claims people before they are able to respond in faith. The baptism of those who enter the covenant of membership upon their own profession of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior witnesses to the truth that God’s gift of grace calls forth a response of faithfulness. Thus, the triune God, incarnate in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, gives to the Church not only its mission but also its understanding of membership.
G-1.0304 The Ministry of Members “Membership in the Church of Jesus Christ is a joy and a privilege. It is also a commitment to participate in Christ’s mission. A faithful member bears witness to God’s love and grace and promises to be involved responsibly in the ministry of Christ’s Church. Such involvement includes: proclaiming the good news in word and deed, taking part in the common life and worship of a congregation, lifting one another up in prayer, mutual concern, and active support, studying Scripture and the issues of Christian faith and life, supporting the ministry of the church through the giving of money, time and talents, demonstrating a new quality of life within and through the church, responding to God’s activity in the world through service to others, living responsibly in the personal, family, vocational, political, cultural, and social relationships of life, working in the world for peace, justice, freedom, and human fulfillment, participating in the governing responsibilities of the church, and reviewing and evaluating regularly the integrity of one’s membership, and considering ways in which one’s participation in the worship and service of the church may be increased and made more meaningful.
Now I realize that we currently have some “Active Members” who may recognize they have not been active according to the definition offered by the Book of Order. These members may feel that they have not gotten much out of their membership, worship, fellowship or educational opportunities. If you fit into this category then my purpose in writing is not to shame you or suggest that anyone remove their membership from the “active” list, but rather to suggest we each examine the criteria for membership and ask ourselves how faithful we have been to the covenant we made with God when we joined Christ’s Church. If we are going to fulfill the potential God has given us, as individuals and as a congregation, to love one another and offer healing to our community, we will need the gifts and energy of all our members. I look forward to working with you and discussing with anyone interested, ways we may become a more dynamic and faithful congregation.