I used to pastor a Southern Baptist church. Under the right circumstances, I could probably do it again, though I am very much at home in the Evangelical Free Church of America. The news this year from the Southern Baptist Convention wasn’t good as regards membership, evangelism, etc.; all of the numbers are in the article below.

The Next Big Southern Baptist Debate: Purging the Membership Rolls

The good news, though, is the passage of the resolution referred to in the article. As Mark Dever, himself a Southern Baptist, as well as Thom Rainer, head of Lifeway, point out, meaningful membership is essential to the church taking its place seriously. This is a key reason that one of our seven core values at Red Oak is just that: meaningful membership. My thesis is that it’s too hard to really feel “at home” in most churches, and too easy to be a member. We’re trying to exactly reverse that, and I believe that God will be honored as we do.

When I pastored that SBC church in the early ’90’s, one of my proudest accomplishments was “growing” the membership roll from 470 to about 125 (and that was still an inflated number, frankly). The previous pastor (a tremendous Christian man, by the way) believed that a church should never remove members from the roll. He couldn’t have been more wrong, IMHO. We had people on the membership roll who hadn’t been to the church in decades; what is the value of maintaining the fiction that these people were actual “members” of the body? None. Zero. Zilch. Now, hopefully, SBC churches will take the resolution seriously and do what should have been done all along.

3 responses »

  1. Todd says:

    Agree with you on this one oh great one. It is easier to become a member of the average Church than it is to become a member of the local Sams or Costco. Shame on us for selling our members short on their commitment to the local church.

  2. Graham says:

    There is the practice in the Church of England whereby every 6 years (the last time was 2007), the electoral roll for each church becomes invalid, and has to be drawn up again. Often a drop in membership as people who are no longer involved don’t fill out the form.

  3. Byron says:

    Though I’m not a huge fan of much of what I see the CofE doing, this seems like a better practice than what many churches stateside do.

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