Resolution on Regenerate Church Membership

Starting Monday I want to discuss the regenerate church membership resolution the SBC passed this week in Indianapolis. Let’s get the discussion started by examining the amended version of the resolution passed the last day of the Southern Baptist Convention, “On Regenerate Church Membership and Church Member Restoration.” The resolution is as follows:

WHEREAS, The ideal of a regenerate church membership has long been and remains a cherished Baptist principle, with Article VI of the Baptist Faith and Message describing the church as a “local congregation of baptized believers”; and

WHEREAS, A New Testament church is composed only of those who have been born again by the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the Word, becoming disciples of Jesus Christ, the local church’s only Lord, by grace through faith (John 3:5; Ephesians 2:8-9), which church practices believers’ only baptism by immersion (Matthew 28:16-20), and the Lord’s supper (Matthew 26:26-30); and

WHEREAS, Local associations, state conventions, and the Southern Baptist Convention compile statistics reported by the churches to make decisions for the future; and

WHEREAS, the 2007 Southern Baptist Convention annual Church Profiles indicate that there are 16,266,920 members in Southern Baptist churches; and

WHEREAS, Those same profiles indicate that only 6,148,868 of those members attend a primary worship service of their church in a typical week; and

WHEREAS, The Scriptures admonish us to exercise church discipline as we seek to restore any professed brother or sister in Christ who has strayed from the truth and is in sin (Matthew 18:15-35; Galatians 6:1); and now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, June 10-11, 2008, urge churches to maintain a regenerate membership by acknowledging the necessity of spiritual regeneration and Christ’s lordship for all members; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we humbly urge our churches to maintain accurate membership rolls for the purpose of fostering ministry and accountability among all members of the congregation; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we urge the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention to repent of the failure among us to live up to our professed commitment to regenerate church membership and any failure to obey Jesus Christ in the practice of lovingly correcting wayward church members (Matthew 18:15-18); and be it further

RESOLVED, That we humbly encourage denominational servants to support and encourage churches that seek to recover and implement our Savior’s teachings on church discipline, even if such efforts result in the reduction in the number of members that are reported in those churches, and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we humbly urge the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention and their pastors to implement a plan to minister to, counsel, and restore wayward church members based upon the commands and principles given in Scripture (Matthew 18:15-35; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15; Galatians 6:1; James 5:19-20).


2 Responses to “Resolution on Regenerate Church Membership”

  1. 1 Searching
    June 16, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    Pastor Ryan, I am looking forward to your perspective and discussion of this resolution and the convention overall. Am I mistaken or is there an unhealthy preoccupation by the convention with disciplining the membership of the SBC? Why? I wonder, once again, if this is not a backwards approach to a condition mostly created by such resolutions and preoccupation with the “don’ts” instead of focusing on God. If it’s all about Him then why do so many spend so much time on the behavior of mankind? I grew up with parents who, trying to do their best with what they knew, raised their children with negative reinforcement instead of a balance of affirmation and correction. Always telling me what I did wrong and never letting me know what I did right and how much they loved me. It took me a long time as an adult to realize the damage that did and correct it. My concern with the SBC and the “Church” as a whole is the same as my childhood and the ultimate damage being done as evidenced by the membership versus the attendance numbers. Do we as humans often take a negative approach to things because of our continuing efforts to bring God here and conform Him to our understanding instead of going to Him and being conformed to His image and will? Can we not understand our position to God because of our sin nature without that being the solitary focus of our maturation process? Can we not learn about our loving Father without feeling beat up and punished after most worship experiences and study sessions? There is language in the resolution that peaks my curiosity which refers to the practice of “lovingly correcting wayward church members”. The latter part of the referenced verse (Matt 18:15-18)is as significant as the first and that is that we must be certain that what we go to our brother with is a Kingdom issue and not a doctrine of man, right? How much of what the “Church” resolves to is doctrines of God and not doctrines of man? Scripture can be used in many ways to support or condemn almost anything. The greatest misuse of scripture is when it becomes a club. I personally have been attacked by well intending church ministers over a doctrine that they were passionate about but that could not be indisputably supported with scripture. What are the checks and balances for such issues? Just some questions as we examine the convention and this resolution in relation to the local church. Thank you Pastor!

  2. 2 Lee
    June 18, 2008 at 8:31 am

    I believe the resolution is long overdue. I also believe the resolution recognizes what CrossPoint is already doing. The covenant signed by every member is a commitment to God and the body of Christ (the church) that should not be taken lightly. I also believe recognizing non-participatory membership communicates wrong doctrine, implying innactive faith is still faith – Biblically, it is not:

    James 2:14-20 4 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe- and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?

    Revelation 3:15-22 15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'”

    What use is correction if it is not correct? Correct doctrine leads to correct relationship. Correct relationship results in the inevitable empowerment for correct action. Kudos to the convention and to you for supporting it.

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