Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Dever on Membership

With the Deacons, I have been reading Mark Dever's book,The Deliberate church. Here is a powerful word by Dever on Membership.
"Most local Rotary clubs will take a persons's name off the membership roll if he fails to attend the meetings for an extended period of time. Yet many churches will allow a person to say on the membership roll for years after he or she has stopped attending! Membership should mean more in the church than it does in a Rotary club. One of the best ways to reinforce this is to teach n why membership in the local church matters. No one is saved by either church membership or attendance. But membership in the local church is a church's external, public affirmation that the member is continuing to give evidence of genuine Christian conversion.
Biblically if a member shows prolonged negligence in gathering with God's people, how can he say he loves them? And if he doesn't love them, how can he say he loves God (cf. 1 John 4:20-21)? Pastorally, if a member who could attend continually neglects to meet with the people of God, church leaders simply are no longer in a position to externally witness the fruit of his life, and for that reason can no longer externally afffirm his conversion by uninterrupted membership. Evangelistically, meaningless membership damages the corporate evangelistic witness of the church in the surrounding community. Members usually go AWOL to cover up more serious sin; but they are committing that sin as people who are still likely to be known by others in your community as members of your church! In other words, they are sinning in ways that make your church look hypocritical o the unbelievers in your community.
Most seriously of all, when we allow prolonged nonattenders to keep their names on the membership rolls, we actually help deceive them into thinking they are saved when their behavior is in fact calling their salvation into question. If membership is the church's public affirmation of a person's conversion, then to leave a nonattender on the rolls could very well be damningly deceptive. What's more, if you are the pastor of your local church, then God will hold you in some sense accountable for the spiritual well-being of every member of your church (Heb. 13:17). Do you really want to be held accountable for the spiritual well-being of a member whom you have not seen at church in four years--or worse, a member you've never even met? Everyone loses when we allow nonattendance to go unchecked. It doesn't serve you well, it doesn't serve the nonattender well, it doesn't serve the church's reputation well, and it doesn't serve God's reputation well. For all these reasons, it is wise to remove from the rolls those members who have shown prolonged negligence in meeting with God's people."
The Deliberate Church on pages 47-48

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