THE WORD/MARCH 1992 Page 6
THE DUTIES OF CHURCH MEMBERS TO THE CHURCH
A sunny deck and a steamer chair and nothing to do but lie in it, with the sea to watch, and the throb of distant engines lulling you to sleep, and your every comfort cared for — that is all well enough for a week or two. But would you be willing to sail the seas your whole life long as nothing but a passenger? The boredom of it would prove intolerable. There are thousands of men who spend their lives in sailing the seas, but they are members of the crews of the ships that hear them, alert with interest in their work and proud of their skill. The officer on duty on the bridge, the steersman, the engineer, each knows he is helping to make the great ship go. The trouble with many church members is that they remain mere passengers, year in, year out. They never find any way to help to make the ship go. They are mere baggage, and sooner or later they find themselves bored by the voyage.
In this list of duties of a church member to the church let us put first one duty which, if it is performed, should sooner or later involve most of the other duties.
1. Find Something to Do for the Church.
Do not be content merely to sit in a pew “That which is not expressed, dies:’ And Orthodox Christianity finds precious little expression in mere pew sitting. Do something in person. Write checks if you can, but never let that take the place of first-hand service in the work of your parish.
Are you an accountant? Somewhere there is bookkeeping to he done, and done in a better way than it has ever been done before. There are charts to be made to visualize for the members the budget and work of the church.
Are you a writer or editor or advertising man, or have you literary ability? Find how publicity can be made more effective in your parish. Volunteer to edit the calendar, or a weekly or monthly bulletin or parish paper to be mailed to the parishioners.
Arc you a stenographer? There are always letters, minutes, addressing and mailing of notices and bulletins.
Have you artistic ability? Think of what attractive posters might do to call attention to the meetings and work of the church. Note improvements needed in decoration of Sunday School rooms and meeting hall.
Have you musical ability? Somewhere in your parish it is needed — in an orchestra, or in the choir of the church, or in a junior choir, or in special programs.
Have you dramatic ability? Those in charge of young people’s work will be glad to have your help. Are you a carpenter or a mason? Somewhere in the church is an improvement that the council will be glad to have attended to.
Are you a business man or lawyer or banker? There is heavy work each year in the financial canvass and in the making of budgets. The priest knows people facing business trouble, who need some disinterested person to help them to see through their difficulties.
Are you a physician or dentist? Doubtless you do much charity work already. But the priest occasionally has cases of distress laid on his shoulders, and would be glad to know that you are willing to do needed work from time to time as a member of the parish and the Church’s ministry.
Women with homes rather than businesses will find waiting for them such work as helping with the social program for the young people, including the furnishing of homes for entertainments; calling on new members, invalids, and old people; and befriending friendless persons. . . an experience which will prove immensely broadening and interesting. Men are needed from time to time as ushers, and women to take charge of the church kitchens and sometimes see that the church is given that kind of housecleaning which not one male sexton in a hundred is capable of conceiving, let alone of carrying into effect. Flowers need to be furnished for the Altar. Altar linens and coverings need to be made and cleaned. Decorations need to be made for special occasions. Phoning and addressing sometimes threaten to consume hours desperately needed by the priest for the preparation of services, sermons, and other duties. Nurseries maintained during the Divine Liturgy will allow parents of young children to attend, There are old people and invalids who will be glad to attend church if some one will drive them there and home again. There are women’s aid societies and men’s brotherhoods needing loyal workers.
We have left to the last the most important part of the work of the church, that of the Church School. For, “what shall it profit the Church if it gain the whole world and lose the coming generation?” Teachers are needed, as well as substitutes, secretaries of records and supplies, musicians, and leaders of young peoples clubs, Scouts, Camp Fire Girls, and guilds. Many parishes are looking also for older folk to act as counselors to young people and older boys and girls in working out their own programs. There is probably a summer Church School in June. If you feel unprepared for such duties as these you may receive the necessary help and training from your pastor.
For young people, the obvious field of service open to them is in the working with young people of their own age and also with boys and girls who are somewhat younger. Often the best possible leader for a group of boys and girls is some one only “a few jumps” ahead of them in experience. Such a leader may require advice and help from older folk, but often only such a one can supply the understanding and enthusiasm needed. And often the willingness of a younger person to engage in such work will prove more impressive to boys and girls than the volunteering of some older person. Church and Vacation Schools, Scouting, youth groups, and other such organizations can he immensely encouraged by the leadership of young people.
Young boys and men can be of untold help to the priest in the worship services by becoming servers or “Altar Boys.” Teen-age boys sometimes think they have “outgrown” the position of server, , . but one can never be too old to serve in the Sanctuary at the corporate worship of Almighty God.
“Silver and gold have I none:” said St. Peter; “but what I have, that give I thee,” Find what ability you have and give it.
The first thing the church needs from you is active service. If you give it, you will find yourself, not a bored passenger, but an alert, enthusiastic member of the crew.
(TO BE CONTINUED)