Connected to Jesus - Connected to God's People
Connected to Jesus - Connected to God’s People
Membership in a congregation matters. Church membership and attendance throughout the USA has failed sharply in the last few decades. Many of us have on our hearts and minds someone who was raised in the church but has since stopped attending. Some of these people we care about remain on the official membership of a congregation, some don’t claim to be a Christian any longer, and for some church attendance isn’t a priority anymore. Participate in the ministry of Jesus at Our Shepherd Lutheran Church, and live as a witness to the mercy and grace you have received in Christ Jesus.
Christians are baptized into a people, a kingdom, a body, a family of brothers and sisters in Christ. If you are a Christian, then you are a part of a larger group. Our Christian faith is more than just our relationship with Jesus. Of course, you have a relationship with Jesus, but you also have a relationship with all other Christians. In the Lord’s Prayer the plural is important. The first words are “Our Father.” Your relationship with your Heavenly Father is linked to your relationship to your brothers and sisters in Christ. Our Christian faith involves a relationship with God and a relationship with the people God has called into His kingdom.
All Christians are part of the group, the body, the kingdom. How we acknowledge, express, and experience our relationship to other Christians is the challenge. Membership in the body of Christ is through faith in Christ Jesus. We will find ourselves judging the works of other Christians, but remember we are part of the Kingdom of God through faith in the grace of Jesus. We hear about this grace of God through the Word of God. The Word of God is read in private devotions and received in the Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. We receive the Word of God through the preaching and teaching of our pastors. We participate in the Word of God with other Christians through Bible study and worship. St. Paul told the Romans, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17)
You became a part of the Body of Christ through the work of Jesus. You receive the righteousness of Christ as a credit to your life through faith in Christ. So that we may receive this saving faith, God has created the ministry of teaching the gospel and administering the sacraments. Through these instruments of grace the Holy Spirit is given. The Lutheran Church condemns those who teach that the Holy Spirit comes to people without the external Word through their own preparations and works. God works through the ministry of the church to deliver saving faith.
Membership and participation in a local congregation is important and yet challenging. Since Christians are sinners called to holiness, the life we seek to live will not always show up in what we do. This internal spiritual struggle will externally look like hypocrisy. We condemn the very things that we find ourselves guilty of doing. We Christians know that we don’t perfectly walk the talk. A Christian congregation is a collection of people that gather around forgiveness first and foremost. Everyone is spiritually struggling. Join and participate in the ministry of Jesus at Our Shepherd Lutheran Church, and find a community where there is healing and forgiveness delivered in regular shipments through the Word of God.
Look at what it means to be a follower of Jesus in the book of Acts. “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42). Through the last two thousands many things have changed in the church and in the world, but the continuity is clear: teaching, fellowship, and worship.
We remain a gathering of people that the Spirit has brought together to share in the same faith as the apostles and the Church throughout the ages. We believe, teach, and confess in unity with the apostles’ teaching. We care deeply about doctrine. Truth matters.
We continue to devote ourselves to the fellowship. We understand ourselves as members, not individuals. Do not reject, ignore, or become apathetic to the fellowship. Being a participating member in a local congregation is the very least one can do to remain devoted to the fellowship like the people of Acts.
If you want to be like the first followers of Jesus and live in unity with the people of Acts, then you should frequently participate in worship services. The book of Hebrews reminds us to stir one another up to love and good works and, “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:25)