Pre-membership Screening

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by dh1948, Mar 14, 2005.

  1. dh1948

    dh1948
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    Opinions, please, on what you think about the practice of screening people who present themselves for membership in your church. The screening process has as it purpose to weed-out those people who have anything in their past or present which might become public and bring shame to the church.

    I do not practice this, but I have heard of a church that does. Just wondering if any of you have ever heard of such a practice.
     
  2. Hardsheller

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    You mean like SIN?
     
  3. Jeff Weaver

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    Well, question is, who is left to decide?

    Wonder how long of a questionairre Philip gave to the Eunch before he baptized him?
     
  4. Bro. James Reed

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    You absolutely MUST question them about some things.

    I'm not talking about stuff that happened in their past, but you also don't know, without asking, what is happening in their present.

    We had a man several years ago who had attended services for several months at our church. He came forward one Sunday and asked to join. We did not know this man well enough to know what his present state was without asking him a few questions first. Upon questioning, it was brought out that he was living with a woman with whom he was not married. At that, the church had to turn him down for membership. We told him if he recognized that this was not the correct spiritual conduct for a member, quit living with her or got married, and then wanted to come back later and be baptized, then the church would approve it then. He never came back.

    I doubt that Philip had to worry about whether the Eunuch was living in sexual immorality or not. ;)

    I would never dig into a person's past to see how they used to live. That is none of our business.

    Their lives do not fall under the authority of the church until they come forward asking for membership. From that time forward is the only space of time that the church can "judge" their conduct as unbecoming of a church member.
     
  5. PastorSBC1303

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    James, I would agree with your post. I think it can be a helpful thing.
     
  6. Dr. Bob

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    We have a detailed questionaire and they must sign both an agreement in joining AND an agreement in "dissolution" - how they will leave if/when such a time comes.

    Screening is mandatory. If I had my way, it would include police and credit checks. Hey, this is my FAMILY I'm protecting. These are people that I will live and die with/for. I want to know that we are ONE and not just playing some verbal game.

    But I'm odd . . . :rolleyes:
     
  7. ccrobinson

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    We don't have a detailed questionnaire, but we do have a section in the church's constitution that outlines what we believe. We just amended our constitution to add that anybody wanting to join our church has to sign off that they believe what we believe, as defined in our church constitution.

    We did this because of a recommendation from the Christian Law Association.
     
  8. Circuitrider

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    In one church I pastored, maybe we should have checked out our prospective members. A lady with her husband and sons joined by baptism after getting saved. Then a few months later this woman was convicted of embezzling money from her employer a couple of years before getting saved. :eek: We knew nothing of this until the police arrested her. She did come before the church and ask our forgiveness and then she had to serve 6 months in jail and repay the money.

    At the same time we wonder if Paul had a questionaire for the Corinthians, some of whom he said had been....fornicators, idolators, adulterers, effeminate, abusers, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, extortioners.... ;)

    Our screening should be a clear testimony, a testimony of baptism or baptism enacted, or a letter of referal from another church, and for all a time of proving (we never put people into places of leadership until they have proven themselves faithful for at least a year). Paul said, "Lay hands suddenly on no man...." Paul told Timothy regarding deacons..."And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. [​IMG]
     
  9. dh1948

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    CCRobinson: Regarding your statement, "...anyone wanting to join our church has to sign off that they believe what we believe..."

    Does this also apply to people who join by profession of faith? If so, how can these people have enough knowledge to know what they believe about biblical doctrines?
     
  10. WallyGator

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    In the PDC model, I believe prospective new members must complete a course (101) before they can become members. This period can last up to a year in some fellowships. I tend to agree with Dr. Bob on this one. However, I've beaten my head against a brick wall for 35 years in most SBC churches.
     
  11. Salty

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    Dr Bob, Would like to see a copy of your quetionaire.

    Thanks,
    Salty
     
  12. J. Jump

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    I would like to see a copy as well if possible.
     
  13. FBCPastorsWife

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    Me too Dr. Bob!!!
     
  14. Shiloh

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    Certanily! Especially in the day we are living in now. Preachers I talk to most places are just changing members every now and then. I ALWAYS call a pastor when I get someone from another church in one of our regular services. When someone desires to join our church they are questioned by the deacons before they are brought before the church, but then...I to am odd!
     
  15. MikeinGhana

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    What kind of legal and finacial liability does an incorporated church have when its member gets into trouble? Is each member somewhat liable for finacial troubles of the church? Does it work the other way as well? Is this not the basic idea that drives the unregistered church movement in America? Just thinking out loud.
     
  16. Shiloh

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    Mike, "What kind of legal and finacial liability does an incorporated church have when its member gets into trouble? Is each member somewhat liable for finacial troubles of the church? Does it work the other way as well?"
    -------------------------------------------------
    Mike, When a "church" is incorporated and has a law suit brought against it they can only attach the assets that belong to the corporation. However if the "church" is not incorporated, they can go to the record book and attach the accets of the wealthiest member.
     
  17. Deacon

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    I'm no legal expert Mike, but the process of incorporation provides protection from financial liability for the church's members.

    A church that isn't incorporated has no such legal protection against it's debtors or litigants.

    Oh and me too, Dr Bob!
    We are working through the process of revising our constitition.
    I'm spending the day going over "What we believe".
    Then the bylaws, uggggh

    Rob
     
  18. steveo

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    Even though some bad will slip through, we also added a clause to our bylaw that states the pastor and someone the church votes in will meet with the prospective member and then come back with a report, and then the church votes for their membership in the next months meeting. The bible says their will be sheep and goats but we should do our best to protect the flock. We already had a couple that tried to join and sneak in living together and we found out when we visited them. My dad also told me there was a church that a group joined and then tried to take over and I think it was muslim, so we need to be careful.
     
  19. Rhetorician

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    To all who have an ear:

    I thought one of the "Baptist Distinctives" was a regenerate church membership; i.e., creedo-baptism vs. paedo-baptism.

    If we want to maintain this historical Baptist uniqueness; then we are compelled to make some effort along these lines so that not every theological "Tom, Dick, or Harry" is not taken for membership just b/c they show up and want in.

    Seems to me that it is much harder to join the "Moose, or the Goose, or the Who Got Loose Lodge" than it is your nominal Baptist church, whether IFB, or SBC, or whatever!

    Angry exhortations expected?

    Food for thought!

    sdg!

    rd
     
  20. Plain Old Bill

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    Okay so what would be a qualifying credit score?
    What would be the limitations on the rap sheet?Perhaps an FBI pnvestigation would be in order.Maybe a written enforceable contract would be in order.
     

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