Home > Uncategorized > Linkathon 2/1, part 3

Linkathon 2/1, part 3

Here’s an interesting article from 9Marks touching on church membership, focusing on members who may want to leave the church. Bobby Jamieson tells pastors

keep a close eye on the back door, too. Make sure that the sheep can’t simply open the gate themselves and disappear from sight. Refuse to allow people to resign into thin air, both for the sake of your church’s witness to the gospel and for the good of every single sheep—especially those who tend to wander off.

Jamieson frames his argument mainly in regards to a “troubler” – someone who, for example, may be looking to avoid discipline.

The upshot of all this is that a church should not accept a member’s resignation who is not doing what Christians do—in this case, regularly assemble with a church.

His four implications of that idea:

1.The troubler … needs to either reconcile with that church or join another one where he can be more content. He can’t simply resign his membership and sit on his couch on Sundays. If that’s what he intends to do, FBC Smallville’s response should be church discipline, not “See you later!”

2. Churches’ membership procedures should reflect the fact that the church, not the individual member, has authority to accept and dismiss members. A member cannot unilaterally resign. A member can submit their intention to resign to the church, and the church will either accept or reject that intention.

3.Churches’ governing documents (constitution, by-laws) should reflect the fact that individual members do not have the unilateral right to terminate their membership. Instead, that prerogative belongs to the church. Therefore, the church has the right to refuse someone’s resignation and pursue discipline instead. It’s important to have this clearly stated in a church’s documents for both pastoral and legal reasons.

Here’s an example of the kind of language I’m talking about, from the constitution of the church I’m a member of (Third Avenue Baptist in Louisville):

“Clause 3. The church shall have authority to refuse a Member’s voluntary resignation or transfer of  membership to another church, either for the purpose of proceeding with a process of church discipline, or for any other reason the church deems necessary or prudent.”

One important note: Numbers 2 and 3 in this list should probably be well established before a church attempts to resist someone’s resignation, whatever the circumstances.

4. The pastoral specifics of how churches handle individual resignations will vary. For members who have moved out of the area, I’d suggest that a baseline requirement on this front might be something like “they intend to join another evangelical church in the immediate future.”

Your thoughts? Right on, or too strict, or something else?

The ladies at Wartburg Watch are not fans of this approach….

Other links:

In the wake of the Elephant Room, Tim Schrader asks if we can all get along.

Patrick Kyle contrasts the Andrew/Mars Hill church discipline situation with his own church discipline experience in his Lutheran church.

Althea Butler pushes back at Eddie Long’s coronation.

Pete Wilson says Christians should, when they disagree, do so amicably.

Karen Spears Zacharias: “I just wish to God that pastors everywhere would keep to their own bedrooms and out of ours.

RELEVANT Magazine‘s Caryn Dahlstrand Rivadeneira on the rise of Christian libertarianism. (HT)

Rick Patrick asks if the Southern Baptist Convention is gradually being Reformed.

Terry Mattingly looks at the religious/faith angle of Joe Paterno’s final memorial service last week at Penn State.

Robert Crosby on the evangelicalization of American Pentecostalism.

Dr. Winn Griffin on why one should read and study Scripture (part 1, part 2, and part 3 of an ongoing series).

The Under Much Grace blog looks at another Christian group, its issues with abusive practices and their affects, specifically on child rearing and a tragic event which happened eight years ago.

 

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. BrianD
    February 3, 2012 at 1:05 am

    A personal note: I recently left a Reformed church which has a members’ covenant similar to those found in 9Marks-affiliated and -friendly churches. My resignation was accepted without incident. I was not under any kind of discipline, nor did I leave to avoid such. My parting was cordial, and I wish my former church all the best, while I search for a church that likely will be evangelical in nature, but not specifically Reformed.

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