The Next Big Southern Baptist Debate: Purging the Membership Rolls (Christianity Today blog)
Complete text of amended membership resolution (Baptist Press)
I am not a Southern Baptist but I have been close to many over the years (most of my family is SBC) and have kept up with the headlines for many years. While I applaud the move (and agree with many that Tom Ascol’s resolution was not only stronger but closer to the biblical teaching), I wish that many more in independent Baptist circles would also return to biblical church discipline.
Sometimes the problem is with the pastors who can sometimes be so focused on “growth” (meaning numerical growth) as to lose sight of the importance of faithfulness and obedience. Other times, the problem is not with the pastors but with the people in the pew (some of whom are also concerned about numbers) who often would rather remain faithful to their friends and family members who no longer frequent church than to be faithful and obedient to the Word.
I remember one meeting in our church when I was a new Asst. Pastor, not yet ordained, where we were doing this very thing (removing non-attenders from the church roll) and one man stood up and said that we were on the verge of great things and if we did this people would be mad and we would not be able to grow. It apparently did not occur to him that it is better for the people removed to be mad at us than to be out of step with God by being willfully disobedient to his Word. (Besides, why would it matter if these people are mad at us when they don’t come to church anyway?)
As Kim Riddlebarger points out, the same problem affects both the SBC and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod: They’re losing the saved in the name of reaching the lost. The result is, they end up not reaching the lost but losing the saved. I would say the same is true of many churches not of those two groups who are so caught up in seeker-sensitive methods that they lose sight of what the church is and to whom it belongs.