The seminar went well this morning. The only thing upsetting was the fact that there were fifteen confirmations of people who said they were going to be there when they were called on the phone mid-week. There were four of us who actually showed up. The scary thing is that if I hadn't given Margaret a call yesterday evening I would have been another one of them. Because I had told Danette that I would be there but it hadn't registered to me that they had changed Saturdays. Originally the seminar was scheduled for next Saturday. But that's frog jump weekend and so they upped the date and Danette called everyone telling them the date change and confirming who would be there. If I hadn't realized that she had called for confirmations a week early I would have just shown up next weekend puzzled at why no one was there when I went for the seminar. But I got to thinking, Why would Danette call a week early to confirm my participation? Then it dawned on me that she may have told me that the date was changed and I just hadn't caught that. Thank goodness I called Margaret!!! But I wonder how many others just thought that Danette was confirming participation but she was also notifying the date change. I blamed it on my hearing because there was a lot that Danette said that I didn't hear but I wonder if, with that many not showing up, they just didn't catch on about the date change. Well, whatever. I just felt bad for pastor because I'm not sure he would have given up a Saturday for just four people. One thing I've noticed is that I can hear the phone better if I use the one I got from the phone company. I have to have the TV muted to hear but I was able to converse with Margaret over the phone just fine yesterday and she speaks very softly. I also called Christine last night on that phone and I only needed her to repeat one thing and even that I had heard I'd just wanted to make sure I understood. If I continue to have good results on this phone I'll get back on the prayer chain. I have always been on the prayer chain but I dropped out a couple months ago because I just felt that I wasn't living up to what I promised. I mean, it was almost always Margaret that called me and she's so soft spoken that I'd never catch the person's name and most times I'd miss what the problem was and so I'd just say, "Lord, You know who that was for and You know what the problem is and I just place that before You and ask that You be involved in it." Well, for some reason that started to bother me and so I had my name removed from the chain. But if I can now hear on this phone for the hearing impaired I'll get back on the chain because that is a ministry that I really want to be part of.
Seminar was on membership in the church. It was very interesting and informative but I felt it was a little light on the responsibilities that go along with membership. Dan covered all the bases I just thought they could have been emphasized a little stronger. When you become a member of a church you are committing to several things. You are committing yourself to supporting that church physically by being there to help out on quarterly work days by replacing light bulbs, raking or weeding flower beds, fixing a water leak, cleaning the gutters, or any number of other physical things that periodically need attention. You also promise to be there as a church member to vote on how the church is to function, who will be the leaders, and other things that happen in the life of the church.
You are committing yourself to support the church emotionally by praying for her and for other members within the church body who need prayer. You are committing yourself to care about the church and her members.
And you are committing yourself to support the church financially with your tithes and offerings. And that commitment is there whether you make it to church or not. You are promising to pay your tithes and offerings on a regular basis: weekly, monthly, yearly or any other schedule you set up. I give weekly but I think most people give monthly but the important thing is to support the church regularly. If I miss a Sunday, I give twice the normal amount the next Sunday. It helps me cut down on my absences by knowing that I need to attend on Sunday to give my offering. I have tithed weekly since becoming a member of my church. Right now my church is struggling financially and I upped my tithe to 11%. I know that doesn't seem like a big increase but considering that my income hasn't increased, and considering on how low that income is, an extra 1% was a significant increase for me to pay.
I mention all this because of several things. One, about 6 months ago I volunteered to go over each month's attendance list and send "We Miss You" cards to any family that missed four weeks in a row (an entire month). I became aware of the absentee rate. Two, I became aware of the number of people who want to remain a member of my church but never attend. Why are they members if they aren't going to attend? Why do we have ghost members, what's the point? The least we can do is come up with an Active and an Inactive membership roll. Let's get down to the actual figures, down where the rubber meets the road. And finally, I became more aware of the finances involved in running a church. Churches don't run on thin air. Churches have monthly bills just like households do. That money has to come from somewhere. I mean, how can a church know what to invest in when they don't know what funds they're going to have to invest? Do you see my point?
This is one of the great dilemmas of the Church. One of which I've just recently become aware. The Church needs to be able to depend on her members for support. But when half of her membership is absent ... well, you can see my point. It really showed up in the numbers for April. For instance there were 41 households that missed all four Sundays in April. (Nearly twice as many as any other month.) And when those 41 households are absent, the money becomes tight. In our case, very tight. I don't know why I never realized this point before. And before I started keeping track I guess I just thought the church existed on thin air. But when you have that high a number of absent households it can seriously impact the funds of that church. But it reaches even farther than that. Are those who are absent still praying for the Church even when they aren't attending? I'd wager to guess, No. Are they making it a point to show up for the quarterly business meetings? Again, I'd guess, No. It's not all about money but money certainly comes in to play. But if no one shows up on Church workdays, small repairs get pushed aside and they end up getting worse or the church has to consider hiring a general contractor to take care of these needs. The church can't just let itself deteriorate until it falls apart. These points really need to be stressed to the members of every church. We all need to take our responsibilities to heart and live up to our obligations.
Another thing I wanted to touch on today is what makes up my own denomination; what do we believe. Basically we hold to six affirmations:
1. The Covenant Church affirms the centrality of the Word of God.
2. The Covenant Church affirms the necessity of the new birth.
3. The Covenant Church affirms a commitment to the whole mission of the church.
4. The Covenant Church affirms the church as a fellowship of believers.
5. The Covenant Church affirms a conscious dependence on the Holy Spirit.
6. The Covenant Church affirms the reality of freedom in Christ.
If you can agree or believe in these six affirmations, then you could become a Covenant Church member. All those silly rules and regulations that churches seem to be in the habit of espousing, are just that, silly. Whether or not you wear makeup, dance, consume alcoholic beverages, wear pants or skirts and dresses, whether you believe that the KJV is the only Bible translation, the role of women in the church and so many other things are just silly. Let's get down to the basics and worship together, down where the rubber meets the road! All this other stuff is just fluff. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we would condone alcoholics or child abusers. There are limits but within these six affirmations we have built a strong denomination.
One of these days I will write out my own journey on the road that led me to Christ. My testimony. My witness. Whatever you want to call it. Last month's seminar was on writing this testimony and I'm sorry to say I haven't even started to write mine and that was a month ago!!! I am a great procrastinator in many areas of my life and sitting down and writing it out has just escaped me temporarily but I will get around to it and when I do I will share it with you.
I will watch for Christine again tomorrow and hopefully she and I can come up with some firm plans to meet and study together. I have decided on Romans. The entire letter! From start to finish. But I will be light and easy the first time through and not get into deep theology at all. But she does need to come to an understanding of just what a Christian is and how a Christian walks her walk. If I do nothing else but teach her how to read the Bible and then stop and reflect on what she's read, I will have had great success. Because that's what it takes to be a Christian. You have to be able to read the Bible and understand what it means for you right now, Today! May 10th, 2008! If I can teach her how to read and meditate on Scripture she'll be able to figure out the rest of her walk for herself. Continue to pray for her that God will protect her from the likes of Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons until such time as she's strong enough to stand in her own defense.
We had a beautiful day today with a fairly strong warm wind. I needed a sweater when I left the house at 9:00 this morning but when I left church at noon it was way too warm and taking it off was the first thing I did when I got to my car. We're supposed to be going into a warming trend. I think we will be very glad that we prepped the cooler.
I washed my car when I got home today. I figure it's time to instigate the Saturday rule around here. Saturdays are for washing and cleaning cars except in the wintertime. So now my car will be nice and clean when I go to church in the morning.