What is a Confessions Reading Group?
A Confessions reading group is a set time of the week where members join with their pastor and read the Book of Concord and discuss it. The pastor does not need to prepare ahead of time. He is simply there to clarify matters along the way as the group takes turn reading parts of the Lutheran Confessions. Some sessions will find the group reading a few pages of the confessions while other times there may be such lengthy and profound discussion and Bible searching that only a paragraph or two are read.
It would be good to have the publicity for the group always state that the group is sponsored by the Brothers of John the Steadfast chapter but that the entire congregation is welcome. You may have some nights when only one or two people show up or you may have more than a dozen. It would be good if the chapter members attend regularly.
Pastors: The confessions reading group is an excellent breeding ground for elders and church officers
A helpful resource:
Historical Introductions to the Book of Concord, by F. Bente, Concordia Publishing House – This book provides detailed historical background to each of the ten confessions in the Book of Concord.
How Do We Start One?
The “Defending the Faith Chair” of the chapter needs to talk to the pastor and arrange for an appropriate time. Better yet, the pastor can take the initiative and set up a meeting with the Defending the Faith Chair. You many want to meet on a weekday evening, make it an early morning business man’s (and/or woman’s) breakfast meeting at a local restaurant or even schedule it for Saturday morning. If there is a layman who the pastor can trust and respect to lead the group, it could even be an alternative Sunday morning Bible class.
What Other Study Groups Might The Chapter Sponsor?
Men’s Bible Breakfast
Spiritual Heads Group (This group would focus on studying scripture that helps men be better leaders in the home and at church. Look for resources coming out from BJS on this.)
Large Catechism Study (read and learn the Large Catechism)
A Testimony from Layman James Harter
Would you, and your church, want to have a richer understanding of our Lutheran Confessions? Is the studying of our Confessions only for 7th and 8th grade students in Catechism class? Does Catechesis stop when we leave grade school?
The Lutheran Confessions, taken from the Book of Concord are 10 special statements of faith that we use as a basis of what we believe. Far more than mere historical documents, they are still viewed today by Confessional Lutherans as a definitive statement
of what it means to be Christian and Lutheran. Since we believe that the Lutheran Confessions are drawn from, reflect Holy Scripture, and are a summary of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, they are the standard by which all teaching and practice in our churches must be judged.
At Bethany Lutheran Church, we currently have a Confessions Reading Group every Tuesday. In that class, led by our Pastor, Timothy Rossow, we read from the Bible and the Book of Concord. Usually, class members take turns reading from the Lutheran Confessions. Our pastor will often times instruct us to turn to certain passages of the Bible and read those passages aloud. We are truly blessed as class members to be a part of this class. It not only gives us the opportunity to learn more about our sacred faith, but it refreshes our Pastor’s knowledge and faith in God’s Holy Word!
I would encourage my fellow Lutherans to start a Confessions reading group in their church. You, as members, can set the standard of when, where, and how often you meet. I truly believe it will have a blessed effect on your whole church. In a day where some of our synod’s leaders seem to underestimate the importance of our Confessional Heritage in favor of a more “seeker sensitive” approach to worship and teaching, it is, in my view vital that we become more knowledgeable of our Confessional Heritage as Lutherans. What better way to do so than to get into the Holy Scriptures and our Lutheran Confessions. It is a class that will bond you with your fellow members and your pastors in our blessed, sacred, and precious faith.