Church Membership Requirements in 1900

During the 1970's, I served as the Pastor of the Rockport Baptist Church, Rockport, ME. Recently I came across the 1900 Annual report. I found the following note from the church's pastor to the congregation suggesting ways in which the congregation could act for the betterment of the church and its ministry. I wonder how church members today measure up to this standard?

Dear Brethren:

* Your minister sends you greeting in the name of Christ, and invites you serious and prayerful attention to this question.
   How can we make our church prosper? Can we not do so by giving heed to the following considerations? In the love of Christ please consider them well,
   They are simple rules. They have never failed and never can.
   Their observance will insure good days. If the church is decaying, the decay will soon be arrested; if standing still, it will soon begin to grow; if it is already flourishing, it will grow more rapidly.

1. Attend all the services regularly.
2. If it rains or snows, make a special effort to go.
3. Never miss a prayer-meeting.
4. Invite someone else to go every week.
5. Take part in the meetings.
6. Think of the services during the week, speak of them to others, and pray that they may be attended with divine blessing.
7. Pray for each member so far as you may know them, especially for the sick and poor.
8. Pray for the pastor.
9. Note the absence of members, not to criticize or find fault, but to show then proper attention in case they are sick, to encourage them in case they are cast down, to restore them if they are wandering.
10. Speak to strangers and invite them to come again.
11. Accept gladly any work assigned you, but never show a spirit of envy when others are promoted in the church.
12. Never encourage strife, but be a peacemaker.
13. Never speak of the faults of others to your neighbors, and never to those who have made mistakes, unless it be for the purpose of correcting them and then be sure to do it in love.
14. Give cheerfully according to your ability.
15. Do not speak slightingly or scornfully of the pastor before your children.
16. If the pastor or anyone else is struggling under a heavy load, take hold and help.
17. Never insist on having your own way against the majority, and never insist on over-riding a minority with careless indifference.
18. Make some unconverted soul a special subject of daily prayer. Persevere in prayer, together with judicious effort, until that one shall be brought to Christ.
19. If you know persons who might be gotten into the church, inform the pastor or the visiting committee.
20. Finally, brethren, ‘Look up, not down; look forward, not back, and lend hand.”

   If we knew that such simple rules as these would give us a good harvest, or insure physical health, or make us rich, as well as we know they will make the church prosper, would we not all begin at once to observe them? These things we can all do. No special talent is required. By so doing ye shall bear much fruit.

                                                            Your pastor, GEORGE S. BENNETT

•Adapted from ”Current Anecdotes.”

 

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