Wednesday, August 20, 2008

from iMonk interview with Dr. Nathan Finn about church membership

Question 6. Charles Spurgeon took one night a week and personally interviewed every person who came to join his church. What does this tell us about the role of the pastor in dealing with the issue of meaningful church membership?

Dr. Nathan Finn:
I believe that pastors should interview every individual who desires church membership. I am not opposed to training other church memberships to participate in some steps of the membership process, but it is ultimately the church’s pastors who are accountable before God for that particular congregation. Pastors have to both model meaningful church membership (as they should model the Christian life in general) and labor to preserve meaningful church membership insofar as is humanly possible.

How does this apply in bigger churches where members or would-be members are never likely to even meet one of the pastors? Would Dr. Finn say that pastors who set up a membership process in which a full-blown Pelagian is accepted as a covenanted member of the church have somehow fallen short of the accountability necessary for properly screening incoming members? Do those who consider Spurgeon a hero and an example of pastoral care follow his example? I hope that most of them do but I am too cynical to suppose that all of them do. But the prospect of the pastor or priest of a particular flock personally getting to know something about each person who expresses interest in membership of a local community does seem prudent.

It is interesting to point out for the sake of rhetorical effect that when Paul writes his epistles he is writing to church settings in which not much is said about specific procedure. In 1 Corinthians we arguably get a scenario in which those who have the gift of interpreting tongues are said to be necessary before someone speaks in tongues. While this is held in Pentecostal and charismatic teaching to refer to a particular custom where someone speaks in tongues and not necessarily in a language and another person speaks what the utterance means, this can also refer to a polylingual setting in which if a Christiain visiting from Germany comes to the United States and has a word he or she wishes to share that they can't benefit the body unless someone who knows German is there. I don'twish to diminish what might be called the supernatural reading of the text but I think the principle of Paul's admonition applies at every level. And in both cases one has to know who has the gift of interpretation and the only way for that to even be verified is for actual linguistic mastery of some kind to be around.

Which is to say that for this advice to be followed the people in the church must know each other well enough to even practice what Paul advises. And how may pastors and priests know that a spiritual gift is being abused if they are not aware of what gifts are available?

I think Finn's idea is a positively great one and I would imagine church leaders who recognize that they will be held accountable before Christ Himself will want to ensure that on the day that He questions them about the work they have done as shepherds that they may be able to give an account that within the mercy given them and with the responsibility before them they endeavored to actually know those people whom they were given care for. I don't know what it will be like on the day that a pastor of a megachurch stands before Christ and is asked by our Lord, "So, how did you help Jane Doe in her time of need?" Whenever you helped the least of these and all that.

Monday, August 18, 2008

nothing much

I should get to sleep by now since the work-week beckons but I want to dash off at least SOMETHING.

You know that lengthy treatise on Koshkin's cross movement thematic development approach for his sonata for flute and guitar. I'm not posting it. Not that I don't want to write it but it just occurs to me that if I go to all the trouble of breaking down how melodic ideas get developed within and across the sonata's movements I'd just be posting something someone could rip off and I would rather it be contributing to my OWN coursework, graduate degree or what-have-you than witlessly posting a score analysis of something still under copyright that some unscrupulous student with a deadline might rip off.

So, uh, if I DID post such an article rest assured I would include bibliographic and discographic materials you'd have a pretty damned hard time replicating and would put in some pointless name-dropping of people I'm sure you don't know or who, if you DO know them, know me too and would flunk you're sorry ass.

Okay, too acerbic perhaps.

But I DO still owe more than just a cursory plug for the years' old CD plug I did for the Corona Guitar Quartet's awesome album of guitar music by Jonas Tamulionis ... I just have to concede that my own compositional work and life in general has usurped that goal! Sorry Volkmar, I hope you can forgive me! But I've pitched your CD to local journalists already so I'm hoping a few people have picked up your CD.

Okay, gripe regarding third party vendors. If you find someone selling a used copy of say, The Prince's Toys, Koshkin's first CD on Soundset Records. I would advise you to skip PLEASE go directly to here instead:

Order directly from Frank. It's the nice thing to do and since Koshkin has focal dystonia and can't record or perform anymore it's handier than buying something from the big river company. Don't get me wrong, I order from them aplenty but sometimes I prefer to go directly to the artists or producers of the smaller CDs.

I mean, sometimes the only way I find out about things is because, say, Atanas Ourkouzounov emails me about a new CD that just came out (will review in another venue at some point, no worries, though I might review it here).