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 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.