Church Letters

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Salty, Sep 23, 2013.

  1. Salty

    Salty
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    Many Baptists churches wil send for a letter when a person wants to change membership.

    Just what is the purpose of requesting a letter. Many Baptists churches will only request a letter from another Baptist church. Some IFB will not request/accept a letter from a SBC church and ect.

    Has your Baptist church ever requested a letter from a non-Baptist church?

    Actually, I think we should! IMHO, the purpose of the letter is too ensure that the member has a good standing- regardless of the denomination.

    Suppose you requested a letter from a Presbyterian church - this member wants a charistimaric type of worship service - ie he has been speaking in tounges out loud during the preaching

    or

    from a COC - and the comment said - this person has been trying to "sneak in" Baptist doctrine for the past two years.

    or

    from a pentecostal church - his membership has been put on the discipline list, until his court case -for a misadeanor has been resolved

    NOTE: these are all fictitious "letters".

    SO, should we require a letter of reference from a non-Baptist church?
     
    #1 Salty, Sep 23, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 23, 2013
  2. Mexdeaf

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    Good questions, Brother Salty.

    I've been through the NT many times and never seen a church letter, unless you count Paul's introductions/recommendations of the brethren to each other in several of his letters.

    I have mixed feelings on them. Having been a missionary, my experience has been that churches in Mexico generally did not use letters, and went by personal testimony and observation.

    In our new church plant, we have agreed to require all desiring membership to take a six week class based on the book I Am A Church Member as a prerequisite for membership. If someone brings us a letter, or desires to join by such, membership will not be automatically granted.

    I know that might not be popular with some, but in this day and age the purity (and hence, unity) of the church must be a priority.
     
  3. Zaac

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    I believe there is a Biblical precedent as church letters are nothing more than lters of recommendation attesting of someone's Christian walk and character. Baptists,unless I'm mistaken, only exchange letters with other Baptist churches.

    In writing to the church at Rome, Paul says I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, 2 that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well Romans 16:1-2

    Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you? 2 You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our[a] hearts, to be known and read by all. 3 And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. 2 Cor. 3:1-3
     
  4. JohnDeereFan

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    We do the same thing (except our class is much longer and we use a different curricula). It isn't that we don't trust the word of the previous church just that we want to make sure everybody's on the same page.
     
  5. Zaac

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    I think that it is wrong, personally, that we require of people something God does not.

    Recommended, perhaps. But definitely not a requirement.

    If God has accepted a person into His church, who are we to add something outside of what He requires to join our church family?
     
  6. thisnumbersdisconnected

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    I'm sure there are churches that might include something like this in such a response, but I think it highly unlikely. Regardless of attendance, tithing, obedience, etc., most such responses identify the member as being "in good standing" which essentially means he/she once joined that church and doesn't generally give any indication of what has happened since.

    As to whether we should receive responses fro other denominations, I agree, we should. Doctrines of the churches we attend don't truly reflect what we ourselves believe, as I'm sure most of us could find things to complain about in the things our church teaches.
     
  7. Mexdeaf

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    Our sentiments exactly.
     
  8. Mexdeaf

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    I believe that the NT teaches that church membership is a privilege, not a right.
     
  9. saturneptune

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    I believe you are correct. There are many examples by Paul of reasons to put someone out of fellowship with the local church until they repent and are restored. I will disagree with one point you made. I am totally against indoctrination classes, communicant's classes, memorizing bylaws, etc as a prerequisite to membership. Acts clearly states they were accepted as members the same day. I would have no problem requiring the courses after membership is established.

    On church letters, I really find no example in the NT, except maybe Paul sometimes vouching for the character of an individual such as Timothy, and the situation in Philemon. Letters are kind of like the sinner's prayer, no where to be found.

    Our church sends out letters and accepts letters to Baptist churches of like faith and order. They do not respond or ask for letters from other denominations.
     
  10. Revmitchell

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    My position is that those classes serve as an aid to new members to help them understand what they are committing too.
     
  11. saturneptune

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    How do you relate that to the verses in Acts? Do the courses at your church come before or after membership? Just asking for information, not necessarily disagreeing.
     
  12. Mexdeaf

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    That- and to prevent a "country club" or entitlement mentality.
     
  13. Revmitchell

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    Which verses in acts? Before, that way they know what they are committing too before they make the commitment.
     
  14. saturneptune

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    Acts 2: 41-45 is one example. Another in Chapter 3

    "41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

    42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."

    3000 were added that day (in chapter 3, added daily). Then, after they were added, in verse 42 they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, after they were added.

    Honestly, it is not a real big issue with me, and as I said, I have no problem requiring the course of indoctrination of the local church after membership.
     
  15. Revmitchell

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    My position is that we need to be careful when we use 1st century precedence. What I believe is that it does not mean that this is the only way to do it. In other words it is not a "thus saith the Lord".
     
  16. JohnnyReb

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    Letters...classes....courses???

    Thank God for my little country Church where the head of the Church is Jesus Christ and not a governmental system of hurdles to jump through.

    Classes so new people know what their getting in to?? My gosh there not joining the Marines. Church buildings have a door to enter and depart through if they are not happy.
     
  17. Revmitchell

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    Yes! The whole church is now corrupt. We have new member classes its all over the Lord can come tonight!
     
  18. Zaac

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    Yes the privilege of being grafted into the Tree is done by God Himself. So who are we to require something else? Church membership comes via God.

    We can recommend. But I don't believe that I've seen any right given to add requirements. A letter is a recommendation. It is not a requirement.
     
  19. Zaac

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    An AID to new MEMBERS would definitely be a good thing because we do want to make sure new members know what we believe and how to remain in good standing in the congregation.
     
  20. Zaac

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    :applause: AMEN!!!
    About 8 years ago, I left a church in part because of disobedience over this issue and several other things. During a church leadership meeting, we were told that it would now be required for prospective members to take a new members class. I asked if any body else had a problem with God taking us as is into His family but us putting up hoops for folks to jump through to join our church? I then asked if there was a BIBLICAL precedent for making such a requirement. The minister of education deferred to the pastor who said no.. I asked then why are we doing it? Never did get a straight answer.
     

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