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….
In the wake of the Elephant Room, Tim Schrader asks if we can all get along.
Althea Butler pushes back at Eddie Long’s coronation.
Karen Spears Zacharias: “I just wish to God that pastors everywhere would keep to their own bedrooms and out of ours.”
Wartburg Watch posted on how to leave a “Mark Driscoll-like church”.
Skye Jethani: “Books and blogs are filled with recommendations about how to reverse the exodus of young adults, and I have no silver bullet solution to offer here. But I do want to explore one area I believe many churches have overlooked- vocation.”
Ben Irwin’s open letter to friends in the pro-life movement.
Rachel Held Evans reviews Peter Enns’ book The Evolution of Adam.
Thabiti Anyabwile: “if you’re from outside the African-American community, think very long, hard, and carefully about ever calling some African Americans to take your position in defense against other African Americans. It’s disastrous for everyone, and, frankly, you won’t begin to pay the deeper costs over the longer period that your African American friend will.” (HT to Frank Turk at the Phil Johnson Pyromaniacs link posted above).
Chaplain Mike Mercer offers a ‘better way’ of church discipline (the comments are well worth your while).
The Mars Hill Refuge blog has made its debut.
Fred Clark: “Any approach to “church discipline” that doesn’t allow for grace is bound to be as gracelessly cruel as that obscene “Mars Hill Church Church Discipline Contract.”… But then part of the response to Driscoll also needs to be to remind him that the invitation to grace stands waiting for him as well — that forgiveness, even for him, is necessary and available and possible and within reach.”
Wenatchee the Hatchet has a long, and solid, reflection on the matter (and his time at Mars Hill Church).
A former member of Mars Hill reflects on his experience (and it isn’t positive, FYI).
On to other subjects:
Professor Ben Witherington – who tragically lost his daughter to a pulmonary embolism – reflects on the goodness of God and what not to say to those who grieve the loss of a loved one.
Terry Enns discusses what makes a heart hard.
Aaron Armstrong on what kills a ministry faster than anything else.
Jim Elliff on when pastors aren’t able to pastor.
Jonathan Fitzgerald: “In 2012, there is no explicitly evangelical candidate where, just four short years ago, Republicans chose John McCain, whose evangelical street-cred was bolstered by his choice of Sarah Palin as running mate, and gave second billing to Mike Huckabee, an evangelical pastor.”
Joe Carter, Ted Kluck and Matt Morin debate whether “cage fighting” – known generally as mixed martial arts – is ethical for Christians.
Michael Clawson’s paper on neo-fundamentalism within American evangelicalism was posted on Roger Olson’s blog.
David Fitch asks if the “neo-Reformed” are Reformed or Puritan and if that even matters.
David Sessions riffs on Doug Wilson’s review of Mark and Grace Driscoll’s book Real Marriage (caution: mild language, and discussion of a specific sexual practice as addressed in the book and by Wilson).
Rachel Held Evans on why she’s not discouraged by Mark Driscoll’s popularity.
Russell Moore: “(Carl) Henry, then a young rising star in the Christian firmament, issued a jarring manifesto calling for a theologically-informed and socially-engaged evangelicalism. Henry warned that American Christianity, on the Right and on the Left, was headed for irrelevance, toward being the equivalent of a wilderness cult. His agenda wasn’t simply an updating of style and presentation (although he had written a book on church publicity). The issues at root were about misguided views on the kingdom of God. He was right. And he still is.”
More from Scot McKnight on the Hebrews warning passages.
Father Ernesto Obregon’s story illustrating why it’s not a good idea to lock a cat inside your suitcase 🙂
Tony Campolo’s reflections on the Arab Spring and the persecution of Christians.
In which I catch up here after not posting a thread in several weeks…
This week, we’re starting off with the Mother of All Links – part one and part two of the story of Andrew, a former member of Mars Hill Church in Seattle who was placed under church discipline, as posted on Matthew Paul Turner’s blog. Andrew does not paint a positive picture of his experience nor of the church’s response; you be the judge.
Now, onto a certain book that’s gotten a lot of attention lately….
More reviews and commentaries:
Eugene Cho (you’ll definitely want to read the comments)
Warning – the book apparently discusses certain topics in an manner that readers may not be comfortable with or feel is appropriate for public discussion. The reviews address (and critique) those discussions, so keep that in mind as you read the reviews.
More commentary on Driscoll, mainly on his book Real Marriage: Ben Irwin (HT), David Fitch, Jonathan Martin, Dave Faulkner, Dianna Anderson, Darryl Dash, Matthew Lee Anderson, Matt Redmond, Joy, Wenatchee the Hatchet and Driscoll himself.
Back to non-Driscoll links:
Frank Viola interviews N.T. Wright.
A solid introduction to Eugene Peterson (at a non-Christian website).
Owen Strachan riffing on Mark Steyn: “Travel, good food and drink, and entertainment are in; children, sacrifice, and building something lasting are out. This is true of the West writ large, it’s true of many young Americans, and it’s influencing the church. We’re reminded that we are called to something greater by God, to build grand and exciting and world-defying institutions like the Christ-driven family and the local church.”
How do you not notice a three-inch nail shot into your brain????? 😯