Elders Annual Report to the Congregation for 2019
“By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.” [1 Corinthians 15:2]
Just as the Trustees are charged with maintaining the physical health of the church property, an elder has the responsibility of working with the pastor to see to the spiritual health of the congregation. Just as when a building ages it will suffer from neglect, just so our spiritual condition suffers from neglect. That is why the Apostle Paul includes the words “if you hold firmly to the Word.” That is why the Scriptures encourage us with expressions such as “Remain in my Word” and “Grow in grace.”
When Jesus talked about the Last Days he warned, “Because lawlessness will increase, the love of many will grow cold.” These are the Last Days. As the love for the Word wanes, carelessness and apathy take its place. So Peter warns as he closes his second epistle:
“Therefore, dear friends, since you already know these things, be on your guard so that you do not fall from your own firm position by being led astray through the error of the wicked. Instead, grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” [2 Peter 3:17-18]
Sadly, you will see in this annual report’s changes in membership that a large number of people removed from membership continues to be shown. In most cases, the reason for removal is the neglect of the Word and the gradual decline in interest in hearing and learning what God has to say.
This trend continues. Using attendance at the Lord’s Supper as an indicator, we have about fifty members that have attended very few times, most of them not at all in the past year. We have inaugurated the use of attendance booklets, but haven’t developed the habit of registering our attendance each Sunday. Therefore, the information we are getting from them is inaccurate and so, not very useful as yet. You can help by using and encouraging regular use of the attendance booklets found in the pew.
Some that have been contacted to encourage their attendance and participation in the Lord’s Supper have wondered why this is being done. The answer is simple; this is an act of love that imitates that of The Good Shepherd who seeks his sheep and cares for them. It is a duty that the Lord gives to the church. You can share in this loving work by encouraging friends and family members that need it. You can ask for help and resources from your elder if desired.
What about the rest of us? Can we improve in our hunger for the Word? The use of daily devotions such as our WELS Meditations, Bible study – either (or both) that offered here at St. John or individual at home – are being encouraged. Becoming more regular in attendance and the use of the Lord’s Supper, the use of our church library and the like are resources at our disposal, things that we all need to consider to address what is of primary importance in our lives.
With Pastor John Berg serving our vacancy, I have been asked to be responsible for Bible studies. I will do most of the Sunday classes as I am able. A Tuesday night study (6:45) is also now available.
“Let us not neglect meeting together, as some have the habit of doing. Rather, let us encourage each other, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” [Hebrews 10:25]