Church Membership for those no longer in the church?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by piaairline, Jul 17, 2007.

  1. piaairline

    piaairline
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    Hello,

    I wonder what is commonly practice by churches with membership system when the following happens:

    1. A member has been attending another church for 1 year
    2. A member has moved out of the area

    Do you remove the membership? Do you renew their memberships?

    Thank you.
     
  2. EdSutton

    EdSutton
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    Don't know, exactly, as we have "cleaned up" the church roll, a time or two over the last several years. Probably just when someone gets the idea that "it is time", and then/or the church decides to do so in a business meeting.

    However, I'm pretty sure God's copy of the church roll is always exactly up to date, so I personally don't let it bother me one way or another.

    Ed
     
  3. webdog

    webdog
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    I always qustioned the biblical requirements for "membership", anyway. I see nothing in the Bible stating we have to sign papers stating which local church we are "members" in.
     
  4. tinytim

    tinytim
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    For us we simply put them on the inactive list... then we have a way to bring them back active if they choose to be...

    But while they are on the inactive list, they have no power to make decisions.. so it is no big deal...

    Just keep them on the inactive list.

    Webdog, I have also questioned membership, but I settled on this...
    1 Corinthians 14:40 KJV
    (40)
    Let all things be done decently and in order.

    And in order to do this you would have to have some sort of membership role in order to keep order and decide who gets a vote in matters of the church.

    It also allows for church discipline.
     
  5. Scarlett O.

    Scarlett O.
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    I think it's fine to "purge" the roles every now and again by calling inactive members and finding out if they are attending somewhere else.

    However, I don't believe that a church should take them off the role unless they request it.

    The problem would be avoided to a great degree if these members were contacted regularly by phone, cards, visits, and etc. in the first place. We have started a campaign at my church of the Sunday Schools contacting even the most inactive of members each week, just to check on them and as them we the Sunday School or church can do anything for them.

    Some people become inactive because they joined the church and were then forgotten by the church.

    Getting their names slapped on our roles isn't the goal. But once they are, they are just as great a responsibility as the lost people out there.
     
  6. tinytim

    tinytim
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    I agree with you here...

    I know it is a headache... but I have seen so many church splits by cleaning up the role.

    When you contact them and they don't want to come, but want their names on the roll... keep after them about what it means to be a church member...

    Some have the mistaken understanding that in order to get to Heaven they must be a member... So you may be able to reach a lost person.

    For if they are trusting the church role instead of Christ to get them there, they will end up in Hell...

    So keep after them...

    It may be tough.. but their soul is worth it...
     
  7. saturneptune

    saturneptune
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    The games played with church membership rolls never cease to amaze me. The one that really gets me is the ones who stay on the church rolls decade after decade in order to claim local church membership in an obiturary when they die. That in itself shouts of no understanding or relationship with Jesus. Frankly, I could care less who knows where I went to church when I am dead. As Ed said above, the roll you better be on is the Lamb's Book of Life. This is so short sighted and self centered it is almost comical if the consequences were not so tragic.

    With local church membership comes the responsibility to be a living, vital part of the ministry. That would include attendence, giving, working for the Lord, fellowship, and whatever else the Lord tells you to do.

    What would happen to my job if I acted like the majority of church members?

    I could go along with Tim's idea of an inactive member roll. This has to be kept on top of, as churches that let rolls go wake up one day and find names that the oldest person cannot remember, then the next month you see the name in an obiturary claiming membership at your church.

    I also agree with Scarlot that every and repeated attempt must be made to bring them back into fellowship. Like above, this is an ongoing effort that cannot give in to laziness.

    It is up to each church to decide how to police its rolls, whether church discipline or some other means. A church avoiding its responsibility because someone on the rolls is the 5th cousin of an active member is not a reason.

    As a final thought, for those of you who advocate closed communion (not me) and use the local church roll as a standard for participation vs self examination, I would think of all people you would want to keep clean rolls. Think about the state of some of the chruch rolls you know of, then think of that being used as a holy standard.
     
  8. preachinjesus

    preachinjesus
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    We purge our roles frequently. We check on members and follow up. Also, our membership is designed to be an intentional process. We don't let anybody join...but anybody can join. We have several steps along the way to be part of our membership, particularly with signing our membership covenant.

    Also, we don't post our membership numbers but our actual attendance. We have died to having a larger membership than attendance, and would actually like to see larger attendance than membership. Membership is a poor barometer of health. :)
     
  9. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
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    Two questions here:
    1. Why is it their decsion whether they stay on the roll or not? Is a church not the guardian of its own doors?
    2. Why do we have to keep after absentee church members, particularly when they have made clear by their absence that they want nothing to do with us? Why should a believer have to be begged to come to church?
     
  10. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
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    People who join our church agree to a covenant that they will join another church in a timely fashion if they move away. If they stop coming they are called on. If they do not return within 3 months, they are moved to inactive status, meaning that they cannot vote or speak in congregational meetings. If they do not return by the next annual congregational meeting they are removed with prejudice (meaning just a short step away from discipline).

    When someone voluntarily absents themselves from church, they are willfully and perpetually disobedient to the Scripture and are negligent towards the body. That is a matter for which church discipline is appropriate.

    Church membership is clearly taught in the NT. Every believer is to be in fellowship with and under the teaching and discipline of a NT church.
     
  11. preachinjesus

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    I'd respectfully suggest a modification and change "membership" to "involvement"...and I'm the assimilation guy for our church. :)
     
  12. saturneptune

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    I agree with PL on this one. Even if not taught, membership implies a commitment not seen in the word assimilation. We already have enough excuses for not supporting the church.
     
  13. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
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    How do you discipline someone who is "involved"? How do you know who is "among you" from whom to choose deacons (Acts 6)? The truth is you can't. Membership is involvement, but as SaturnNeptune points out, there is a commitment level of membership not found in "involvement."
     

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