My elders are currently studying the denomination’s new Form of Government.
There is always a small number of people who can’t get enough of this sort of thing, but ordinarily studying one’s constitution is not terribly exciting stuff. And it’s not typically why people agree to be elders, for which I’m grateful.
And then, just when I’m ready to be bored silly, just when I start to worry that my elders will be bored silly, I come upon a section about what it means to be a church member, and I get really excited.
Take a look at this. This is a description in the new form of government of what it means to be a member of the Presbyterian Church (USA). No, not a deacon. Not an elder. Not even a minister of word and sacrament (I know we don’t call them that anymore, but you know what I mean.) This is about your typical, run-of-the-mill church member:
- 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.
What about that last one –“reviewing and evaluating regularly the integrity of one’s membership”! We should all take honest looks at ourselves? Really?
I don’t know that I’ve ever served a church where the membership even came close to this, and the truth is, I’ve served some wonderful congregations. And yet, wouldn’t you want to belong to a church where people aspired to this?