I think I am going to think very seriously before baptizing any more babies of people who are not members or becoming members through catechesis. Several respected theologians I know would disagree, and say that the problem is not with baptizing but with pastoral care after baptism. Whatever. The point is, what’s the point of baptizing a baby that is not going to be raised a Christian or one that is going to be raised in a heterodox church? Would you believe that none of the babies I have baptized since I became a pastor (mine being the only exceptions) are now in the Church? One of them was at the request of the grandparents, who about had a cow when I hesitated. The parents were attending Faith family Church in Keokuk, and they didn’t baptize infants, so they asked me. I did it, trusting the wisdom of others, and I think now that I shouldn’t have.
The sad part is, we have all these people on our list of “Persons or Souls belonging to the Congregation.” Many of those were the children of non-members, baptized as infants, and now we have no idea who or where they are. What am I supposed to do with them on the membership roster? Count them as baptized members? I don’t think anyone can understand the kind of membership mess I have here, although you could get some idea by looking at the statistical data for my congregations (which some have and criticized me for not doing a better job–thanks a lot! As if it doesn’t already weigh on me enough. Some people are just like District Presidents. And no, I’m not talking about you PTM).
So, what do I do? I have GOT to get a handle on this membership thing. I don’t even know where to start. Do I start with the communicant “membership” first, and then go to baptized? What is baptized membership anyway? Is it equal to “List of Persons or Souls belonging to this congregation”? They don’t teach us this stuff at seminary, but they might be advised to. Suffice to say, I don’t know who my sheep are that I am supposed to be caring for.