During the Reformation period, many were asking about how to recognize the true Church. Martin Luther described seven marks of the Church; Holy Word of God, the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, the Sacrament of Holy Communion, Holy Absolution, Holy Ministry, Holy Prayer, and the Holy Cross. Where those are present, true faith can be found. For a fuller understanding of Luther's Seven Marks of the church, see Luther's Works, Volume 41, "On the Councils and the Church," especially pp 143-166.
In 2009, pastors and laity formed The Seven Marks Society (SMS). The original purpose of the SMS was to develop orthodox resources for individuals and congregations to use with reasonable confidence to transmit the orthodox faith. At the same time, there has been a desire to encourage prayer among lay members of Lutheran congregations in North America.
Quotations are from Luther's Works, Volume 41 (LW)
Page references are from CONCORDIA The Lutheran Confessions Concordia
Publishing House Second Addition, Copyright 2005, 2006 (CLC)
The Seven Marks Society seeks to focus on the nature of the church. We seek to remain faithful by focusing on what is essential.
First of all, The Seven Marks Society is committed to a life of obedience to the one true God. To sustain this life of faith, We are committed to prayer in the Name of the Triune God.
The Seven Marks Society is a loosely organized group of pastors and lay persons who seek to remain in true faith. By seeking to keep this Guide, you are a member of the Seven Marks Society.
This is not a secret or separatist group. It seeks to be a leavening agent for the Church.
We encourage open, clear communication with the pastor of the congregation. We do not seek to add to the workload of the pastor nor do we want to be seen in competition with the pastor.
From The Guide Seven Marks Society Second Edition
1. We will seek to read the Holy Scriptures daily.
2. Select a Bible reading guide and use it consistently. For example, many worship books contain daily lectionaries.
3. Begin with prayer, asking for the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
4. Read the scriptures prayerfully.
5. Reflect on the passage. Here a good study Bible can help you to deeper understanding.
6. Consistent reading is more important than the amount read each day.
7. Read the introduction to the Book of Concord, (CLC pp. 3-12)
From THE GUIDE SEVEN MARKS SOCIETY Second Edition