Friday, January 18, 2008

Not Everything is Black and McWhite - pt. 1.3

Vince: How does Trinity EFC “strongly encourage membership,” exactly? (see previous post)

That is a good question. The way we ’strongly encourage membership’ occurs in a variety of ways. We do not hide the fact that we believe that every committed believer should be a member of a local church. In our ‘Welcome Packet’ (I don’t like the word ‘packet’) we publish the four means to our mission - the first one being membership. We have a process by which we try to get every new attender into our Discovery Class. During this class we stress the importance of membership.

As I said in the first answer: we have a running database of every regular attender. Part of my responsibility (and joy) is to contact and follow up with each of these people to ask them about their progress in these four means to our mission. The first question I ask them is about membership. If they are not a member I discuss our process of membership with them and communicate the importance of membership as it relates to their commitment to the body.

If they are unwilling to become a member at Trinity Church we do everything we can to help them find a church in town where they can become committed in the way that church requests. Although it may sound like it, we do not force membership on anyone. If someone is unwilling to become a member and they want to continue attending the church we accept them as a brother/sister. In that process, however, we communicate to them that they are forfeiting their ‘rights’ of being under the same type of care that a member may receive.

For instance, if a member and someone who refuses to be a member approach the church with a need, the priority goes to the member. I am glad to say that we have only had one long-time attender refuse to be a member. We hold membership as a privilege and we see it as an important, public commitment to the body.

Our view of membership is not a secret. We are honest about our desires and follow up with people who are on the outskirts.


david rudd said...

devil's advocate:

vince says, "we communicate to them that they are forfeiting their ‘rights’ of being under the same type of care that a member may receive."

what about someone who says, "I am willing and desire to pursue the other three 'means', but i have a biblical conviction against membership."

is it appropriate for an elder/pastor/church to withhold biblical care from someone simply because they are not participating in a "less than biblically mandated" practice?

this would probably never happen, but i wonder how you'll respond...

Vince said...

well - good thoughts devil, i mean david.

the problem is that each of these would be on a case by case basis. i guess my question for this person would be - where do you find biblical support against something that isn't in the bible? how can you have biblical convictions against membership when membership is not an explicitly biblical practice? show me where you see support against membership in the bible and i would like to talk through that with you.

out of compassion we would care for those in real need but - just like in the scenario i gave in the post - if we had two people, a member and a non member come at the same time our allegiance is to the member first.

i think you'd agree.

i am still curious - don't you all have membership? you are a baptist church - you have to have membership!

david rudd said...

good answers.


1) we're not really a baptist church.

2) if we were, we would say the Baptist distinctives are:

Biblical Authority
Autonomy of the local church
Priesthood of the believer
Two Ordinances
Individual Soul Liberty
Saved Church Membership
Two Officers

I can only buy 3 (maybe 4) of those as "non-negotiables" so i'm clearly not a baptist.

Regarding membership, that emphasis of that statement is on "saved" not "membership". it is saying "if you have membership, they must be saved". it is not saying (in it's original intent) "you must have membership".

so there.

more later probably, i need to read the latest two installments.