Bishop and Christian*, February 2018

For very many people in our current society, joining something—anything—is a foreign concept. People simply do not join groups, clubs, or organizations as often as they used to. If they are going to join, they want to know what sorts of benefits they will get in return. And they want to know if they will be forced to take on burdens and responsibilities, and whether those will be worth the cost of joining.

What is true for organizations in general is also true for churches, and perhaps even more so. Whereas the benefits of joining this or that club or group may be obvious, the benefits of joining churches are not as apparent. And when people do not see the point of actual membership, they are, of course, unlikely to become a member.

This lack of interest in joining churches is what makes Peter Speckhard’s little book called Connected to Christ: Why Membership Matters so important. In just over 100 (5×7) pages, Pr. Speckhard (a nephew of our own Mim Schwich!) makes the case for, as the title states, why membership matters. It is a very succinct book, but I was surprised at how in-depth it is for its length.

Pr. Speckhard lays out why membership in a local congregation is required because the Body of Christ is physical and located in time and space, as well as throughout history and eternity. But he also points out the benefits and responsibilities of members of the Christian Church, which are carried out in the local congregation.

Connected to Christ is not only the best explanation and defense of membership in a local congregation, it’s the only one I know of written by a Lutheran. If you’ve ever wondered why membership matters, or struggled with the question of why you are a member here (or anywhere else), I would encourage you to pick up and read this short book. You can find it at cph.org or amazon.com.

Pastor Winterstein

*St. Augustine (354-430 AD), Bishop of Hippo in North Africa, said, “For you I am a bishop [overseer]; with you I am a Christian.”

Bishop and Christian*, July 2016

You Are What You Read (Part 2)

Last month, we considered the goal of the Scriptures in giving us Jesus and transforming us into His Image—not so much by how we read the Scriptures, but by how they read us into the salvation story of the Father and the Son and the Spirit. They read us by the Law, then they read us into the Creed through creation, the Son becoming man, and the Spirit creating faith to trust what Jesus has done for us. We are taught how to pray, and we learn how God has chosen to give us Jesus with His saving work from cross and empty tomb through Baptism, Absolution, and Supper. Then we are sent back out into the world, having received the Love of God in Christ, to serve our neighbors in love by what God has given each of us to do (vocation).

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