What do you think about this?

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I came across this news story and thought I would share it with the board. What do you think?

Shape up or ship out, Scottish pastor tells members. A Church of Scotland pastor has written a letter to his congregation of 600 members only 200 of whom regularly attend services saying they must act more like Christians or else leave the church. "There is a clear need for members to significantly raise their level of giving," the Rev. Daniel Hawthorn wrote. "Membership entails committing a realistic part of your income for church work." The letter also tells members they should improve their prayer life, increase their Bible reading, and be more diligent in telling others about their faith, The Daily Telegraph of London reported.

In the letter, Hawthorn advised each member to reflect on whether he or she wanted to remain a church member and said he would prefer, if necessary, a smaller membership consisting of people who take their faith seriously.

Most of his parishioners, at Belhelvie Church in Aberdeenshire, criticized the notion. "The church door should be open to anyone at any time. The church is threatening us by saying we can remain members so long as we attend and worship regularly and pay up," said one. Another told the Telegraph, "Surely this goes against everything the church stands for? It is almost as if they are attaching conditions to Christianity. I always thought the church door would remain open to anyone."

A spokesman for the Church of Scotland said, "It's a common thing to examine the communion roll from time to time and this would seem to be a move to encourage more people to take a more active interest, but it looks as if Belhelvie has gone one step further by issuing this letter."

-- Anonymous, November 05, 2003


I agree with the idea of a committed relationship which is what he is asking for. Jesus also said, "Those who are not for me are against me." He said, "If you love me keep my commandments." and Where your stuff (treasure) is, that is where your heart lies also." Therefore a "Christian" who does not support his church with the tithe and offerring really does not love God first. The AME Church also espouse the same thing, we are not enforcing our ownb rules. Be Blessed

-- Anonymous, November 05, 2003

This points up the difference between membership and attendance. Anyone is allowed to attend. Members have obligations. Our church has membership candidates sign a covenant that includes a committment to tithe, attend regularly, become involved in ministry, and refrain from gossip.

As far as "attaching conditions for Christianity", there are conditions to being a Christian. They're different than the conditions for church membership, but there are conditions.

-- Anonymous, November 05, 2003

The Church of Scotland sounds no different thatn the Sanhedrin Council. There are no legal restrictions which would prevent something like this from occuring in the US but the likelihood is very remote because of the political fallout. Ain't happening in my or your lifetime so let's move. It's interesting to note that the New Testament does not mandate any membership credentials other than living by the Two Great Commandments. QED

-- Anonymous, November 07, 2003

The Scottish preacher's dilemma is certainly a relevant one in many church congregations, even many in the AME denomination. It seems that what some take exception to is the dictum to "Shape up or Ship out!" It's the "ship out" part that many don't like as it seems to go against the purpose and calling of the church. If the many church members whose names are on the roll seldom attend or support the church, it is necessary and right that they be enjoined to "shape up" and honor their commitment made to the Lord when they joined the church. The Corinthian text (2 Cor. 13:5)that enjoins a personal examination of your faith certainly goes a long way toward underscoring the individual need to plumb the depths of one's "personal commitment" to the Lord and consequently to the local congregation. The gospel of Luke, while not directly addressing the laxity of church membership, in the texts Luke 14:26, 27 & 33 have inherent in it's truths grounds for teaching and admonishing the faithful of any congregation that there is an exclusionary element in being a disciple of Christ that eliminates your discipleship if your commitment is not as it should be. Every quarter, the Presiding Elder asks of the membership, "How many have left without certificate?" People will leave your congregation and not tell you they have left. People will "say" they are members of your church, but you hardly ever see them from year to year. Their names are on the "Inacative" list. In the spirit of Galatians 6:1, we endeavor to relaim them by personal visit AND official letter. If they desire to be removed from the official membership list of the congregation, they are removed and in effect,are no longer members of the local congregation. If they wish to remain as valid members of the congregation then they are enjoined to come and RENEW their membership vows (the specific 6 questions printed in our Hymnal that admits to Full Membership in the AME Church) We can only and should only monitor Local Church Membership. We can never remove ANYONE from the Church of God, regardless of their membership status. Our Lord's parable of the "tares among the wheat" when taken as an example of membership in the Church admonishes us that at the "time of harvest" there will be an accurate and honest adjustment.

May God's Pewace bless one and all.

Rev. Harold L. Turner Zion AME, Delaware, Ohio

-- Anonymous, November 11, 2003

It may sound to simplistic, but "What Would Jesus Do"? I cannot believe that Jesus would even be having this discussion. He only had one church and one faith, faith that He was the Son of God, period. We should spend as much time and effort into seeking those who are outside the church and welcoming them than asking them to contribute financially. When people believe in something strongly enough they will support it either with their time or money. Money is not the only thing that supports Christ's ministry. Christ didn't say to give me your money. He said the laborers are few. We need to work with the gifts and not all have been given the gift of wealth. Does this mean that the homeless, poverty stricken cannot be members? I would like to be there when the Scottish minister hands out the first letter and he turns to see Jesus standing there. To me the feeling in his heart at that moment is the answer to whether the letter should have even been considered, much less sent!

-- Anonymous, November 12, 2003

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