August 9, 2006
Your members are those for whom you regularly take responsibility for admitting them to the Lord’s Table. Pure and simple, that’s what it boils down to.
Marcus Loane described the members of Richard Baxter’s church like this: “They thronged the Church [St. Mary’s Kidderminster] and sat spellbound as he [Baxter] declared the Word of Truth until the fear of God came down with power. It soon became necessary to erect five capacious galleries to house the large congregation and the time came when he could say that not less than one third of the townsfolk had passed from death to life. ‘I know not a congregation in England,’ he wrote in 1658, ‘that hath in it proportionately so many that fear God.’Kidderminster was the only church in which he ever dispensed the Lord’s Supper, and that only to those who would consent to discipline . . . .” Marcus Loane, Makers of Puritan History (1961), p. 184.
Membership means regular admission to the Lord’s Table. (I’m side-stepping the issue of visitors for now). Who are those who are regularly allowed to commune? Who are those who are submitting to the leadership of this local congregation? Which persons are those who are the responsibility of this congregation to know, encourage and rebuke, as for example the Corinthian congregation was to take responsibility for the man in I Cor. 5.
Membership, at root, is regular admission to communion.
Would you guys agree?