Accepting Members at Your Church

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by saturneptune, May 23, 2013.

  1. saturneptune

    saturneptune
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    Our pastor has been out for three months because his wife is very sick, so we have been using supply pastors for Sunday, and we deacons have been doing the Wednesday night Bible study. Brother Tom, here on BB, lead the study last night which was fascinating.

    For the most part, it had to do with accepting new church members from other churches that may differ with your core beliefs. For example, would your church accept a person who came from a Baptist church, had the proper baptism, but their church practiced speaking in tongues? Then, he asked the same thing about a Baptist church that believed one could lose their salvation? How about if a person presented themselves for membership from a Methodist church that had been immersed from their choice? What about a church that believed in Calvinism or free will and your church was the opposite? How about a baptism from the Church of Christ that is immersion but also is part of salvation?

    Each church is different. My point in all this, which differs with Tom is, I do not believe in a delay for membership for communicant's class, learning the bylaws, or investigating someones background. I believe the book of Acts teaches that "members were received the same day." The person that wants to join is responsible for understanding what the local church they want to join believes.

    Any comments directly or indirectly are appreciated.
     
  2. Rippon

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    It would be best to have a class for potential new members. In that class the Baptist Confession of 1689 could be used. It sums up major doctrinal planks. I think it is an excellent way to introduce new members to a Calvinistic Baptist church.
     
  3. Salty

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    and if your church does not subscribe to the BC 1689 :smilewinkgrin:

    Saturn, I understand your acceptance of the experience of Acts. However, our churches are set up a bit different. Yes, "The person that wants to join is responsible for understanding ..." but in our present day society, many do not understand- and I believe it is our responsibility to show them the Bible truths.

    So if a person coming on promise of letter from a Baptist church - but did believe in speaking in tongues, and did not think that immersion was necessarily, would you vote to accept them?

    What other beliefs would make you hesitate to vote in a member.
     
  4. Tom Butler

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    SN and I maintain a friendly disagreement over new member classes, etc. But we are not that far apart on the essentials.

    Here are some more of the questions I raised for discussion at our Wednesday night Bible study. Full disclosure, some of these questions were originally asked in an article by R. Charles Blair, who is a preacher,educator and association administrator in Western Kentucky. To be honest, I stole some of these questions from him.

    Would you accept someone for membership who was immersed following his profession of faith, but whose church practiced infant baptism?

    What about from a church which believes one may lose his salvation?

    What about from a church which practices believer's baptism, but also believes one may achieve sinless perfection in this life.?

    What about from a church which holds that holds that pastors are to be men, but women MAY also be ordained to the ministry?

    I raised these questions partly because of a situation which apparently affects a large number of Baptist churches. It is, that on any Sunday morning, we'll be tickled to death if 40-50% of our members show up. The natural question is, how did we get to that point? What did the congregation do or not do which resulted in that situation. What did we teach or not teach?

    Whatever the answer is, in my neck of the woods, it is the easiest thing to get onto a Baptist church roll--and darn near impossible to get off that roll, unless you die. And even then, it may be a long time before we find out about it, since he may have long ago disappeared from our radar.

    SN's view regarding new member classes, etc., is the prevailing view in our church. I am in a definite minority.

    I'd be interested our Baptist Board folks have similar situations. And I'd also like to know how you handle the situations I mentioned earlier in this post.
     
  5. Tom Butler

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    Where all those questions ultimately lead is, what is a true New Testament church? What are the marks. What are the distinctive doctrines and practices.

    And, what beliefs and practices would disqualify a congregation from being called a New Testament church?

    Because, you see, if a church believes and practices error, then it also invalidates that churches claim of authority to baptize, and to administer the Lord's Supper.
     
  6. saturneptune

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    If known in advance, I would say the two you mentioned, also eternal security. In practical terms, you are correct. Usually when someone presents themselves for membership, there is very little known about the church the person is coming from, or for that matter, what the candidate was like as a member there. Our only point of disagreement is, when the burden falls on the church for proof, it promotes the prevailing mindset of laziness among Christians. I would not dare present myself for membership in a new church unless I not only understood their doctrine, but knew the internal workings, such as cliques, power plays, and the like. It is a two way street, but the idea of someone coming forward because the sanctuary is pretty or the preacher is a good speaker or the congregation is friendly is sad. So the local church takes all the responsibility to contact the originating church, and a reply comes back saying they are good people. They then join the church and the new member has been spoon feed the entire process without any effort on their part. I just do not think that is right. So, waiting for a reply from a church does not solve the problem, and what you end up with is another pew sitter.
     
  7. saturneptune

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    We are a mixed church when it comes to Calvinism. Tom can correct me if I am wrong, but besides us two, there might be three or four more. Within the local church, we never have the kind of arguments that arise on this board between free will and sovereignty.
     
  8. annsni

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    We do have a membership seminar where we present the church's beliefs and practices and also get to know some of the people who might want to become members. Going to the seminar doesn't mean you'll become a member but it's a way to find out more about the nitty gritty of the church.

    I don't see once a person went through that seminar that they would want to join if they had vastly different views on things. Of course we only really address the essentials and from there, there is liberty so we have Calvinists and Arminians in the church - and even both on the staff. :) But for bigger issues, I don't know that they would want to partner with us if they had a vastly different view on things.
     
  9. canadyjd

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    I require everyone to agree with me on every issue before they can join. So far, this has worked very well. The unenlightened left. All those that didn't leave for other churches are very nice and supportive...although mother has occasionally heckled me during my sermons.

    I have thought about using church discipline toward her, but I need two or three others to go with me...my wife doesn't want to get involved (I think she secretly agrees with mother) which is leaving me a little short handed.:tonofbricks:

    Tuff issue. First, we find what scripture says, and it does appear to indicate believers were added to the rolls the very day they made their profession of faith. (anywhere in Acts...)

    Scripture is also clear that the expectation for those making a profession of faith is a transformed life and a commitment to clearly defined doctrine. (I Cor. 15) Paul tells us what is of "first importance".... that Jesus died for our sins, according to the scriptures, that He was buried, that He was resurrected and that He was seen alive by more than 500 people.

    I say if our new converts can agree with that, then the rest of the doctrines we can work out with fear and trembling, in humility and love, understanding that at our very best we are as lowly as worms, as dumb as sheep, and as temporary as a mist that rises in the morning and is burnt off by the sun.
     
  10. Tom Butler

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    Despite the fact that we have differing opinions among our members, we have avoided division and conflict by separating out those issues, which we do not deem to be tests of fellowship.

    For instance, we have pre-tribs, post-tribs, and possibly a mid-tribber in our membership. We get along with each other just fine. We can certainly discuss them and debate our differences, but we're not going to get bent out of shape about it.

    Our church is a grape juice church. I'd have no problem with using fermented wine at the Lord's Supper, but I will not make it an issue to argue about. Unless, of course, somebody wants to substitute hamburgers and Pepsi.

    What we do agree on are the essentials, and we have a wonderful unity around those doctrines and practices.

    We may have a continuing conversation about these issues, because I would like to see them settled before we have to deal with a real situation. Some are already settled by our doctrinal statement, but it doesn't cover every situation I brought up.
     

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