2008 SBC Resolution On Integrity In Church Membership

Dr. Tom Ascol is planning to re-submit his Resolution on Integrity in Church Membership at this years annual convention.

I hope that it will get passed this year. Keep in mind that resolutions are non-binding things. No SBC church is required to follow any resolution passed at the annual meeting. Having said that, most churches are well served to follow the resolutions.

At my church, we have begun to examine our membership roles and to clean them up. We have over 600 “members” but on any given Sunday morning service we have about 80-85 people in attendance. Sunday evening and Wednesday evening drop to about 40 or so. The pastor has had volunteers call people on our role who are not attending to see if their status can be determined. (For example: Are they attending somewhere else? If not, are they willing to come back or not? Etc.) There were many that the contact information that we have is no longer correct so we can’t find them. From this, we are going to move these non attenders off the active roles and onto an inactive list. We are also planning (at some point) to try reach out to those that might be open to coming back to see if we can bring them back into the church.

What do you all think about this issue? Is it something that we should worry about or is it an issue not worthy of the time and effort?


2 Responses to 2008 SBC Resolution On Integrity In Church Membership

  1. Greg says:

    Please read the following. It has much to do with resolution 6.

    Why should The Nehemiah Project be presented to every church in the Southern Baptist Convention?

    In his book, Visioneering, Andy Stanley details the four components of an effective vision: 1) The problem, 2) The solution, 3) The reason something must be done, 4) The reason something must be done now. I am firmly convinced that we have a problem, that there is a solution, that something must be done to correct the problem, and that it must be done now. In the following text, I have used the process detailed by Andy Stanley to cast a vision for The Nehemiah Project.

    Several years ago, God laid a burden on my heart. After looking through our membership rolls, I found out that more than half of the people on our church rolls were no longer connected to our church. To me, that was a problem. I asked to have a meeting with my Pastor. In our meeting, I asked him the first of three questions, “As a church, when do we quit caring for our members?” His response was to say that we never quit caring for our members. Once he gave that answer, I immediately followed up with the second question, “Then why do we have more than 600 names on our membership roll but have only 250 people here for our Sunday morning service?” The third question I asked was “Why should God give us any more sheep if we are not willing to take care of the sheep He has already given us?” After doing some research, I found out that the typical church in America had half of its membership unaccounted for or missing. We were no different than other church in our town, state, or nation. To me, this is a problem.

    The solution to our problem was based on principles found in the book of Nehemiah. Nehemiah received a burden from God about rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem (Nehemiah 1). He waited on God to provide the right opportunity (Nehemiah 2). He implemented the plan that God had laid on his heart (Nehemiah 3). “So the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty and two days. And it came to pass, that when all our enemies heard thereof, and all the heathen that were about us saw these things, they were much cast down in their own eyes: for they perceived that this work was wrought of our God (Nehemiah 6:15-16).”

    Likewise, God placed a burden on my heart about rebuilding the membership walls of our church. If every person was important to God and we had promised to be a good shepherd to every member, then how could we not attempt to find those that were presently unaccounted for? With the election of our new Pastor, I believe that God had provided our church with the right opportunity to proceed. The plan was simple. We called it The Nehemiah Project. The first thing that we did was to develop an Information Sheet. This consisted of all the information that we wanted from our members. This included name, address, telephone number, birth date, and other information that we deemed necessary. Just as Nehemiah had divided the rebuilding of the wall among the various families / groups that were living in Jerusalem, we divided the rebuilding of our membership wall among the various Sunday School classes. Just like with the church, most Sunday School classes had twice as many people on the roll as they had in attendance on Sunday. The best way to accomplish this task was to ask every Sunday School class to get a completed Information Sheet on every member of their class. In addition, we gave people in our worship service who had not attended Sunday School the opportunity to fill out an Information Sheet. For an entire month, we asked everyone in Sunday School and in the worship service to fill out an information sheet. At the same time, a small group of people – myself, our Pastor, our Sunday School secretary, a few Deacons, and other persons burdened for The Nehemiah Project – attempted to find those members that were not part of a Sunday School class or who did not currently attend our worship service. We were able to find 600 of the 660 names from our membership list. Our Sunday School had grown by 60% (from 145 to 230) and our worship attendance was up by 40% (from 250 to 350). The remaining 60 members, whom we could not find, are still part of our flock. We had simply run out of places to look for them.

    Do not forget that the book of Nehemiah is NOT about rebuilding a wall. It is about bringing His people back into a right relationship with Him! In the same way, The Nehemiah Project is NOT simply about finding our church members. It is about bringing His people back into a right relationship with Him! When we are unified before the Lord and obedient to His commands, He will bring revival. Remember His promise in II Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” God is obligated to fulfill His end of the promise if we are faithful to fulfill ours.

    After seeing first-hand the condition of Jerusalem, Nehemiah came before the people and said, “Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach. (2:17)” The reason Nehemiah gives for rebuilding the wall is “that we be no more a reproach.” The condition of the wall around Jerusalem was a “reproach” to the Jews before their God. But wait just a minute! The Jews were forced out of Jerusalem. They lost the battle with the Babylonians and were taken into captivity in Babylon. There was nothing the Jews could have done to keep the wall from becoming broken down and the gates from being burned. But it was still a reproach to the Jews before their God. In the same way, I believe that having church members on our church rolls that we know nothing about is a reproach to us before our God. We may have been unable to prevent those members from leaving our churches. They may have walked away on their own but it is still a reproach to us before our God. Think about it this way. Imagine that you have four kids. You and your spouse were going on a second honeymoon. You leave your kids with me for the weekend. When you returned late Sunday, I cheerfully greet you at the door. But I now have only two of your kids. I do not think it is a big deal. I know where half of your kids are located. Why are you so upset? The kids left. I did not make them leave. I am sure you get my point. Every child of God is important to Him.

    In addition to the Biblical basis previously mentioned, another reason that something must be done can be seen by taking a look at the most recent statistics from the Southern Baptist Convention. For the first time in recent history, total membership, Sunday School attendance and baptisms all dropped from 2006 to 2007. This should be a wakeup call to the SBC, the various state conventions, local associations and to the local churches.

    The fact that half of our church membership is unaccounted for is not a new problem within the church. Anyone connected with the church for decades know that the problem of “non-resident members” has plagued SBC churches for years. So the question must be asked, “Why now?”

    I am convinced that the time is right to present The Nehemiah Project to every church within the SBC. At the 2008 Southern Baptist Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana, the delegates adopted a resolution “on regenerate church membership and church member restoration.” In the resolution, it is stated that “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.” That means more than 10 million Southern Baptists are missing each week. The last statement in the resolution states “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.”

    The resolution is a great idea but it does not give the church a method of actually going out and finding those missing members. I believe that The Nehemiah Project provides the “how to” portion for the resolution. Can you imagine if every Southern Baptist church in the nation went out and actually tried to accomplish the spirit of the resolution by implementing The Nehemiah Project? Without a method to find those missing members, most churches will not even try. With a method, however, we could impact this nation for Jesus Christ. Just imagine…missing members would be restored, individuals would be revived, churches would grow, and God would be glorified!

    The problem is that the average church in America has half of its membership unaccounted for or missing. The Nehemiah Project provides the solution to rebuilding our membership walls. The reason something must be done is that having this many members unaccounted for is a “reproach” before our God. And lastly, the reason something must be done now is that God has divinely guided our convention to make this a priority in the coming year. Can you imagine what could happen if every church in America would attempt to rebuild its membership walls? I believe that revival would be sure to follow.

    For more information about The Nehemiah Project you can email gregorykfleenor@yahoo.com.


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