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On Resolution Number 6 at the SBC

June 24, 2008

First off, I feel like I’ve officially become a part of Southern Baptist life with a blog post title like the one above.

But, an exciting resolution passed at the recent Southern Baptist Convention that looks something like this:

SBC Resolutions
6. On Regenerate Church Membership And Church Member Restoration June 2008
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).

Resolutions with the SBC are somewhat tricky in the sense that this is not a new requirement for all churches in the SBC but rather a strong exhortation. However, it is a great step to having church membership actually mean something. The only questions are 1) what took so long? and 2) will it make a difference? To the first, I understand that other victories – such as the battle for the Bible – needed to be won before something like this would make sense. As for the second, I have seen many say that nothing will change but I really see this as a challenge to pastors to actually have a biblical model for church membership. More than anything, this resolution makes me even more thankful that we attend a church where nothing has to change when it comes to church membership.

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