Church Membership

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by ChuckS, May 14, 2002.

  1. ChuckS

    ChuckS
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    Pastors I have a question for you.

    Sunday Morning you have a "family" come forward to unite with your church as members. They all profess to know Jesus as Lord and savior and have been baptized Great! right? Well you know these folks and know that the mom and kids are related but the man is a long time live in boyfriend. (How long? does it matter?) Do you present these folks as candidates for membership and let the church vote? What do you do as pastor at this moment?

    Chuck Schobert
     
  2. td

    td
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    Hey Chuck, why don't you ask a hard question? If it was me, I'd say fine, they can be CANDIDATES, however, we'll talk about MEMBERSHIP after the wedding!
     
  3. Pastor Larry

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    I guess my question would be, how is it that they came forward for membership under the impression that it would be acceptable? Was there not previous interaction between teh pastor and the "family" to address the issues of sinful living and to explore salvation?
     
  4. Ernie Brazee

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    Why can't some people understand simplicity?

    Just tell them you will stop by during the week and visit with them to discuss it. Just because they come forward is no reason to vote immediately! Use the common sense God gave you!

    Ernie
     
  5. SaggyWoman

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    We don't vote on members for our church.

    They have to go through a series of steps. Like a membership class, for instance.

    At any rate, "welcome" the family, don't vote, and talk to them.
     
  6. Pastor Larry

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    How do you receive members if you do not vote on them? This seems to be very unbaptistic. Is someone placed over the congregation who has the authority to admit members into the body?
     
  7. SaggyWoman

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    The way we receive members:

    1.) They make a statement or profession of faith before the church.

    2.) If they need to be baptized, they are baptized.

    3.) They must take a church membership course which goes over the basics of our beliefs and where we are headed.
     
  8. rlvaughn

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    Saggy,
    (1) Is any statement of faith or profession acceptable?
    (2) Who decides if they need to be baptized?
    (3) At what point are they considered members and who decides that?
     
  9. SaggyWoman

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    1.) No, not any statement of fait is acceptable.

    2.) The pastor decides if they need to be baptized, based on believer's baptism.

    3.) The church voted that the person must go through a church membership course. When the person goes before church, is correctly baptized, and takes the membership class, they are members.
     
  10. TomVols

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    Ernie is right. I absolutely detest this idea of a person or family coming forward and they have to be voted on right then and there. Potential new members must be examined. Sadly, this is not practiced in the overwhelming majority of Baptist churches I've seen.
     
  11. jcrowe

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    Is this biblical? I mostly lurk here some don't butcher me to bad, but does the bible talk about voting a person into the church? If so, please point it out to me. If not, then why are our churches doing this?

    jcrowe
     
  12. Dr. Bob

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    Good question. In the primitive church (Book of Acts) the congregation made decisions as a body. Many instances - neat study if you've a mind to!

    Congregational government - voting on budget, pastors, missions, new members, etc - is typical of Baptist churches because of that. They may be overseen by elders and ministered to by other gifted members of the body, but the body corporate IS an entity and that body is called upon to make decisions.
     
  13. rsr

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    Dr. Bob:

    I believe in congregational polity, and choosing members is at the heart of that.

    But ... is there any instance in the New Testament where a congregation voted on membership?
     
  14. onevoice

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    I totally agree with Ernie.
     
  15. AVL1984

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    I, too, believe Ernie is right on this one. In our church we are not voted on until the quarterly business meeting. We can come by statement of faith, baptism or letter. If no letter is issued by the church the people are leaving, and they prove to be faithful in attendance and are active in the church, they become members by statement. If they need to be baptized, the pastor talks to them about baptism. They are not immediately baptized. They are instructed on what baptism is, and the church makes sure there is a testimony of salvation. In other words, the pastor visits.

    B.T.
     
  16. TomVols

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    So true. This was one of the most profitable studies I've ever done. The congregational nature of the NT church stands in stark contrast even to what many Baptist churches do today who have their "deacon boards" and really act more presbyterian than Baptist. Such a shame.
     
  17. Jim1999

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    Acts chapter six, I think, lays out the principle of the congregation voting on matters concerning the church. It was the selecting of deacons...and verse five: "And the saying plesed the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen......"
    The parameters were set in verse three...."of honest report,,full of the Holy Spirit, and wisdom....It is obvious the membership met these requirements beforehand.
    I think we are too quick adding members to the local church body, almost as if we are looking for statistics.
    In all my churches, new members were received at the mid-week prayer meeting. We asked them to give a word of testimony, then the congregation voted on their acceptance. As Pastor, I did not vote. It was up to the congregation, not me.
    I guess this is what makes Baptists unique; congregational polity. The preachers of old (acts 6:4) knew their role; given to prayer and to the ministry of the word.

    Jim
    PS..from another post I read. H.E. Fosdick was indeed a master craftsman of the sermon. Sadly he mastered the social gospel, led the way in modernism, denied the Lord Jesus Christ and his sermons came straight from Hell; they took you nowhere and left you there.
     
  18. VoiceInTheWilderness

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    I definately agree with Br. Ernie.

    To those who do not first interrogate the candidates, what would happen if they had been disciplined from their previous church?

    Personally we would not accept an individual or family unless they were in good standing/fellowship with the church they had come from.

    Also, what if the folks desiring membership were living in outright sin in the community. Shouldn't the membership be able to voice some objections to their being admitted to the church?

    I cannot understand how any church could receive new members without a congregational vote. I not suggestinng that this vote be done any particular way, (cannot support with scripture) could be at any meeting, or even a business meeting, but a vote is definately the Baptist Norm.
     
  19. Abiyah

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    I have never belonged to a congregation where I
    was voted into membership, but my husband is
    a member where he was voted in.

    I was booted out of the previous congregation
    for refusing to continue to take my wedding ring
    off when I went to church and for saying that I
    was going to wear my watch on a chain instead
    of on my wrist. My husband left that congrega-
    tion about nine months later, and they sure did
    not see him as a member in good standing when
    he left.

    By your evaluation, then, neither of us would be
    able to join a new congregation, but I thank my
    God that our congregations did not see things
    that way. I had been attending my new congre-
    gation's services for a number of years already,
    though, and the pastor knew I had been kicked
    out and why.

    My husband is reading along, and he said that
    when he joined, he was asked to revoke all pre-
    vious church memberships. He said he had no
    problems doing that. 8o)
     
  20. Don

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    How about questioning them as to why they weren't in good standing first? I believe this is what Wilderness was trying to get at, but didn't actually say.

    You see, by that standard alone, I wouldn't have been accepted into the church I'm in now, and I wouldn't be accepted into any church, because the pastor of my previous church won't even give me the time of day, much less a report of "good standing." Yet five other families have realized that I was the one that was correct about the situation, and have subsequently left that church as well. If we went by that standard alone, those families wouldn't be able to join a church, either.

    We must be careful to remember that there are always two sides to a story.

    The other side to this is that a church might give a report of good standing about someone; but their standard of "good standing" might be somewhat different.

    The best we can do is like Ernie said: Visit with them, ask some pointed questions about their salvation and their beliefs, and go with that.
     

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