This is the final lesson in a series of instruction on biblical church membership. Part one Membership Minimums can be found here: http://leecreekbaptist.org/wp/?p=52 It deals with the basic requirements needed to join a church. Part two Membership Matters can be found here: http://leecreekbaptist.org/wp/?p=99 It shows the biblical teachings of church membership and why it is important.
In our final lesson we will deal with the practical issues of maintaining a healthy church membership. As we have seen in our previous studies the Church was designed by God to show forth his glory in the Earth. How can this be done when most churches have members who hold no resemblance to their heavenly Father. The church must work hard to help cultivate holiness in the lives of it’s members. This is done through discipleship, fellowship, and accountability.
The church has a responsibility to it’s members just as the members have a responsibility to their church. It is common practice in our day to let a person join a church and remain a member there forever, regardless of their current religious beliefs, lifestyle or lack of attendance. This is a recent trend and not a historical pattern. It is a sad commentary on this generation that these principles seem strange of different when they were common in every Baptist church 100 years ago. Many in our generation have never heard of church discipline. (the process outlined in the Bible by where the church tries to correct and restore a wayward member back into the fellowship) While we may be concerned why someone would leave a church and seek their return. Often times they don’t return, and they are left on the roles of the church. Over time a church’s membership can swell to ten times it’s attendance.
Such was the case here at Lee Creek. The church was established in 1994 and by 2012 it had a current membership of almost 300. However only fifty of them attended on a regular basis. Most of the other 250 were unknown to the congregation. Many were added as children and had moved away or had different last names. So what do we do about it? Turn a blind eye and let this continue farther? No, we chose to take action. We contacted all the people we knew and encourage them to return to church. We mailed church newsletters to every address we had with an invitation to come back. We found out that some had passed away, some had joined other churches, others had no intentions of returning to any church, and many were never able to be located.
In order to keep this from happening in the future we took some steps to prevent it. The very requirements given to join the church should be maintained while you are a member of the church. We as a church affirmed these five principles and set up some guidelines to keep us on task and faithful to each other. Here are our resolutions:
#1 Believe: Only believers are allowed to join the church and remain in the church. The only biblical way to know this is by their profession of faith and fruit. We will accept your profession and we will do all we can to help you lead a fruitful Christian life.
#2 Baptism: Only baptized believers can join and remain in the church. Before we baptize anyone we want to here their profession of faith in Christ publicly. If someone can not tell what Christ has done in them, they are not yet a candidate for baptism.
#3 Agree With Our Doctrine: We as a church have affirmed the 1742 Philadelphia Baptist Confession of Faith as a general summary of our doctrine. This document is not authoritative or binding but it helps us clearly show our beliefs.
#4 Accept The Leadership: A complete list of these expectations can be found in the 1742 Philadelphia Baptist Confession of Faith Ch 27 points 9,10 & 11.
#5 Attend: Those who are able to attend and refuse to do so should be contacted by the church in a loving way to resolve any problems. If this process fails, after one year of absence they will be removed from the church membership.
Some may view these resolutions as harsh or unloving but that is certainly not their design. We want to be upfront and honest about what we believe and where we stand on church membership. It is not a trivial thing in the eyes of God and it should not be trivial in our eyes either. We want every member of LCBC to grow in their knowledge of and service to God. May we never have anyone on our roles whom we do not know and love or anyone with whom we did not try to reconcile with. May God be glorified in His churches.