Church Membership

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by desertjim, Sep 6, 2012.

  1. desertjim

    desertjim
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    Hi All,

    I wanted to toss this out and see what comes back.

    A regular attender, but non-member, cannot vote in church business meetings; cannot handle the church finances, but is allowed to handle God's word as a Sunday School teacher.

    I've been praying about whether or not to speak with the pastor about it. I certainly don't want to "be" the pastor or involve myself any deeper than I should. I hold no particular position in the church other than a being faithful, praying, giving member.

    Suffice it to say I have said enough to ask your thoughts on the matter.

    BTW, we are a new church and the pastor has just drafted the constitution which will be voted on Sunday night. Nothing in the constitution addresses this situation, other than that the pastor can decide who preaches and teaches within the body.

    Although I've been in church most of my life, have held various positions within the local bodies, this just seems unthinkable to me, but I certainly don't claim to know everything about the local church.

    In His Service,

    Jim
     
  2. annsni

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    It may be that it's such a new church that they don't even have enough members to teach.
     
  3. saturneptune

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    Every local church is autonomous and sets their own policy. That issue certainly should have been in your bylaws and Constitution. There should be how new members are received, and a description and qualifications of all church offices, including Sunday School teachers. In most local churches I have had experience with, one must be a member to teach a class. Why is the person in question who is teaching or wants to teach not want to join?

    A Constitution cannot cover every situation that will arise, but qualifications of church offices is basic, something that should have been included before the vote.
     
  4. desertjim

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    It's just something that in 60 or so years of church membership I have never seen happen and it's really been bothering me.

    There "are" some circumstances involved, like the teacher is a friend of the pastor and we use his property in which to meet three times a week for which he charges a reasonable fee.

    I feel the pastor is caught between a hard place and a rock, but I feel he is compromising. This, IMHO, is not something to be compromised.

    Still, just because I have never seen it doesn't mean that it doesn't happen in other churches.

    Just keep the issue in prayer and me also, that God will reveal a solution. The one I pray for is that the man join the church along with a bunch of family members.

    Thanks for your input. I appreciate it.

    In His Service,

    Jim
     
  5. jeclark

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    Member /teacher

    My brother Jim, as a pastor, in our church we do believe in membership for all our teachers. However with that said I was wondering if this was a church plant and maybe things are just now getting underway. I was curious about your mentioning you have to be a member to vote in church business. This means there are some guidelines already established. What I suggest is to simply speak with your pastor and ask him about the qualifications to teach. I am sure if this is a new church they will set up some guidelines in the future. My personal view is they need to be members for this holds accountability and shows commitment. Plus I believe it is Biblical 1 Corinthians 12:28-30;Ephesians 4:11-12 grace and peace.
     
  6. Tom Butler

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    Jim, you could also approach the teacher and ask him directly why he has not become a member. A church is a covenant community. When one joins a church, he becomes part of that community. Wonder why the teacher hasn't done that. Wonder why the pastor allows him to teach when he doesn't want to covenant with you.
     
  7. Salty

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    Actaully, I would approach the pastor first. I would also be curious as to why this man does not want to join.
     
  8. Crabtownboy

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    Jim,

    This is an area that many churches are struggling with. It seems that many in the young adult generation who are regular attendees and participants see no reason to become members. We have several in this category. One who is extremely intelligent, very hard working within the church, both intellectually and physically, made this comment, "I see no reason to become a member. It would make no difference in my loyalty or willingness to work." As a church we are attempting to find some type of middle ground in this gray area. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
     
  9. drfuss

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    I think Baptist churches put too much importance on membership when their practices concerning membership are very inconsistant. For instance, a member can stop coming to church for a couple of years for no good reason; and start coming again and be accepted for activity in the church. We have members who have gotton upset about something and stopped coming to church for years; but when the Pastor resigns, they start coming again including having a lot to say in business meetings as well as becoming active for a while. Yet those who think membership is so important, see no problem with this. Yet, if a Christian starts coming faithfully and supports the church, they cannot teach or serve in the church until they join.

    Some Christians (particularily those in the military) want to keep their membership at their home church which is out of the area.

    If you are going to make membership important, then keep the membership rolls updated so it actually means something. Otherwise, it seems hypocritical to me.

    What about those who have membershps in two of more churches?
     
    #9 drfuss, Sep 7, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2012
  10. Tom Butler

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    You make some good points. However, I think that the problem is not the placing of too much importance on membership, but the placing of not enough importance. That's what produces inconsistency regarding delinquent church members and long-term absentees.

    This same mindset also is the kind which would allow dual membership.
     
  11. Yeshua1

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    good point! Could be like a church planting group...

    Would say an established church would say that only members should be involved in the teaching in the church though...
     
  12. desertjim

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    The reason he doesn't join the church is that he is really "down" on the mainline churches of today. I understand that most churches are not preaching the pure unadulterated word of God, which isn't sugar coated. That's all well and good, but it seems he thinks they are ALL like that. The pastor feels a little along those lines as well. Well, so do I. However, I'm a member and I'm committed to the church and the people in it. I feel that if someone refuses to join, he isn't really committed to me or the church. That's why he doesn't join.

    As to why he is allowed to teach, is what bothers me. He is a friend of the pastor from their previous church. That's fine. We all need close friends. He also owns the facilities in which we meet and charges a reasonable fee for our use. I love the man as a person, friend and brother. But I simply don't feel that he is "totally" a part of us.

    Maybe I'm making too much of it, so I'm earnestly praying that God will reveal to me how big a deal it really is. Is it a big enough deal to look for another church? Is it a big enough deal to speak with the pastor about it?

    What makes it so sensitive for me is that I have taught SS for years and the pastor knows that and knows that I have made myself available for it because I feel God has called me to teach. So, it just wouldn't look right for me to pursue the issue lest it look like a self-serving quest. It isn't, for sure, but it might seem that way and hurt my relationship with the pastor.

    Well, I think that gives me the answer. "I" shouldn't be concerned about "I", but about the church. I won't worry about that anyone thinks because God looks upon the heart.

    Keep me in prayer.

    Regards,

    Jim
     
  13. Tom Butler

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    Paul spent a lot of time in his first letter to the congregation at Corinth talking about church membership, particularly in chapter 12.

    He described FBC Corinth as THE body of Christ, and members in particular (12:27)

    The analogy, of course is with the human body, and how each part has a particular purpose. And he points out that when one member of the body hurts, the rest of the body hurts, too.

    You can see how, if one wants to operate independently of the body, the scriptural analogy breaks down.

    There is also a practical reason for church membership. It keeps one from getting lost in the shuffle (or should), provides a means of contact with each member, and provides a means of assuring that those who seek to influence the direction of the church are eligible to do so.

    It should raise a warning flag when one seeks the company of church members,desires to teach those members, but refuses to place himself under the authority of the congregation.

    And it should raise a warning flag when the pastor is willing to permit it.
     
  14. drfuss

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    It ppears that we agree.

    If membership is to be important in Christians participating in the church, then churches should be consistant. When a member returns to the church who has been absent for a specified period of time (say 3 months) for no good reason, that member should be treated like someone who has just started attending the church. Before being treated as a member, the missing member should have to rejoin the church, including being required to do what a new attender has to do to become active in the church (like a new member class, etc.).

    If a member who has been missing for the period of time for no good reason, is allowed to come back and participate like a a regular member, then don't consider membership to be important if it is not applied to everyone. To be consistant, the importance of membership should apply to everyone.

    I know of no Baptist church that applies the same membership requirements to everyone. It looks like membership is only important in areas where it is convenient, and therefore is not really important in most Baptist churches.
     
    #14 drfuss, Sep 7, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2012
  15. Gregory Perry Sr.

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    Just Asking....

    Can anyone here demonstrate or show a Biblical mandate or reason that supports the modern concept (as we normally see it) of church "membership". I'm not suggesting I'm against it but can we support it from scripture (irrefutably). It seems in many cases in our day memebership has become a more "corporate matter" since many churches seem to be run more like business's instead of ministries. We would all agree (or at least I hope we would) that when one is saved they become a "member" of Christ's church, the body of Christ,written down forever in the Lamb's Book of Life....(Amen...Hallelujah!!). That is definitely not the same as being on the "rolls" as a "member" of a local assembly. You can't "church hop" outta that one...amen?:laugh:(regardless of what the Charismatics and many of the Free-wills say) Nor is it tax deductible with the IRS.:tongue3::smilewinkgrin: There is plenty of scripture to support the body of Christ...but membership (as such) in a local assembly...well...I don't know. Correct me if I am wrong. The "rub" occurs when the discussion moves toward excluding someone from service or participation in ministry in an assembly UNLESS THEY JOIN. We need to remember...there will be NO DENOMINATIONS IN HEAVEN.....even Baptist....and I are one! Just my humble opinion...and please...show me scripture and correct me if I am wrong!

    Bro.Greg
     
  16. Tom Butler

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    I have to ask this. Why is a congregation allowing a non-member to set the terms for his relationship with that congregation? Or, why is this congregation allowing its pastor to act unilaterally in permitting this man to dictate those terms?
     
  17. Tom Butler

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    Sorry, I don't agree. Salvation is the gateway to the Kingdom. Water baptism is the door to membership of the local church, which is THE body of Christ. The Universal Church does not exist.

    I recognize that my view is a minority view, but I didn't want you to labor under the pre-supposition that we all see it the same.
     
  18. Gregory Perry Sr.

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    OK

    Ok Bro.Tom...I appreciate your clarification and the civil tone of it but I will just as respectfully have to agree to disagree with you as well:smilewinkgrin:. Water baptism is an act of obedience that identifies one as a born-again follower of Christ set apart from the world. IT is symbolic in nature....only. I can find nowhere in scripture that I am aware of that it signifies membership in anything. That said, as a baptist, I am aware that baptist tradition does recognize the act of baptism as the "doorway" or "seal" of one's membership in the assembly....but ONLY if he/she is voluntarily seeking to unite with that particular assembly of believers. A believer can be validly baptised publically WITHOUT joining any particular assembly at the time. BUT...it is only tradition...not the clear statement or teaching of any passage of scripture that I am (up unto this present time) aware of. If you have any verses/or verse (one would be all I need) then feel free to share them (or it). My personal conviction is that the scriptures make a case for the existence of BOTH the local assembly (NOT a denomination as such) and the universal church which is the fellowship of believers regardless of any divisions or denominations. I am aware of the reality that because (primarily) of sin and divisions/schisms in the body of Christ,the "universal" church will not see much fellowship or agreement this side of heaven. That is just not possible as long as a sin nature exists in all of us...sad but true. For that reason, the local church is the more operative of the two organisms in our time. In my humble opinion.:thumbsup:

    Bro.Greg
     
  19. The Archangel

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    Just a drive-by post here:

    Church membership is vitally important. Most church membership things are done very poorly today.

    Here is a website that is worthy of your time and reading:

    http://www.9marks.org/

    Also, we give these books to prospective members and ask they be read:

    These books we strongly recommend:

    The website, though, will get you pretty close through its free videos and journal articles and presentation of the "9 Marks."

    Enjoy.

    The Archangel
     
  20. desertjim

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    No offense intended, but you post seems to be nothing but a plug for that web site.

    It may be a good site, but it doesn't address the issue.

    IMHO, your advertisement was not ordained by God..........and we should do nothing that isn't ordained by God.

    Regards,

    Jim
     

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