Friday, October 31, 2008

SBC VP Bill Henard on active church membership

Bill Henard is the pastor of Porter Memorial Baptist Church in Lexington, KY. He was elected First Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention in June of this year. Recently he preached a message entitled, "Getting our Faith and Church to Connect: Expectation," based on Acts 2:41-47.

Pastor Henard addresses the problem of inactive members in this message. He proposes contacting the 2500 inactive members of Porter Memorial and addresses the problem of having only 1000 of its 5000 members showing up on Sunday. He starts getting specific in his application around the 23:15 mark.

While much more biblical insight could be shed on this subject than is possible in one sermon, and the problem is much more serious than perhaps was suggested, I am very grateful that Pastor Henard addressed this issue in a straightforward manner. He "wants membership to mean something." Amen. He has given the church something important to consider and think about by admitting the reality behind the statistics and calling for some practical, corrective steps (such as requiring a new members class for membership).

This is the kind of honesty and integrity that needs to become widespread throughout the SBC. Until honestly admits what is true of its membership, it will not be in any position to start addressing any problems that exist in the way that membership is regarded. He rightly points out that our refusal to address the "inactive" membership problem suggests that we really don't care about people.

Pray for Pastor Henard and Porter Memorial Baptist Church. May the Lord continue to lead them forward in reclaiming meaningful membership, and may their example inspire courage and conviction in other pastors and churches to do the same.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Survey of Comments on Resolution #6

There have been many comments on Resolution #6 that was passed at the Southern Baptist Convention last week. Daily newspapers as well as religious news outlets have run stories about it. Several Baptist state papers have published the Baptist Press release about it and some have offered further commentary. Of course, many blogs have also commented on it.

Denny Burk told how the resolution was immediately useful in his ministry at First Baptist Church, Dallas:
"I am very grateful that the messengers voted in favor of this resolution. In the weeks leading up to the convention, I had been preaching through 1 Corinthians at the Wednesday evening worship service of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas. On June 4, we made it to 1 Corinthians 5 and the topic of church discipline. I exhorted the members about the clear command that God gives to congregations to practice discipline.
By God’s wise providence exactly one week later, the convention passed resolution 6. That very night I was able to read the resolution in toto to the folks at First Dallas. I feel confident that the messengers to the SBC really served our church with the passage of this resolution."
Beyond these, I have received many phone calls and emails from pastors and concerned church members who are grateful to have the resolution as a tool to help teach their congregations about regenerate church membership and discipline.

While some think that the passing of the resolution is meaningless and a few (I have only heard about two) think that it is a bad thing, most of the responses that I have read or heard have been overwhelmingly positive.

For your convenience, below is a compilation of the sources that have been pointed out to me that have commented on the resolution (please feel free to add any others not mentioned here). Some of them discuss it at length, others touch on it briefly. What the 50 links below indicate is that the issues of integrity in church membership, regenerate church membership and church discipline are being widely discussed. The resolution is helping to get the conversations going in places where it might not otherwise ever be started. That is hopeful. And it is an encouragement to pray that the Lord will cause Baptists everywhere to reread their Bibles as they ask a simple question, "What does God call a local church to be?"

Baptist Press
Wyman Richardson
Strange Baptist Fire
Justin Childers
Thabiti Anyabwile
Denny Burk
Ted Olsen (Christianity Today)
Kelly Randolph
Ken Keathley
Nathan Finn (again)
Mike Corley
Tim Brister (again)
Associated Baptist Press
Kevin Rhyne
Norman Jameson
Micah Fries
The Charlotte Observer
Chadwick Ivester
The Tennessean
D.J. Williams
Kevin Schaub
Drew Dixon
John Killian
Danny Akin
R. Philip Blinson
Mark Kelly
Tim Rogers
Scott Gordon
Mike Lumpkin
Michael DeBusk
Terry Delaney (again)
Steve Weaver
Jerry Pearce (Southern Baptist Texan)
Anglicans United
Church Executive Magazine
Louisville Courier-Journal
Patrick McGill
Sweet Tea and Theology
Ben Wright
Tennessee Baptist and Reflector
Jim West
Seth Polk
Justin Nale
Don Brown
Wes Kenney
Ed Franklin
The Lakeland Ledger
Terry Leap
Arthur Sido
Ed Stetzer

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Churches inflate their statistics? Who would've thought...

World Magazine reveals that the number of participants that many churches report don't add up in an article entitled, "Numbers Racket" in the December 1, 2007 issue. You can read part of the story here, but you must be a subscriber to read all of it. If you don't already subscribe to this excellent magazine, this is an excellent opportunity to do so.

Here is an interesting quote from the article:
Dan Gilgoff covers the evangelical movement for U.S. News & World Report and is the author of The Jesus Machine. He told WORLD that in his experience, megachurch pastors "notoriously inflate membership" numbers. The reasons? "Media attention, political influence, and money," Gilgoff said (emphasis added).
Somebody should address this situation, maybe by submitting a resolution or something to call attention to inflated church rolls and calling for integrity in the way the numbers are reported. ;-)

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