Friday, June 16, 2006

Friday's Challenge: A Sad Blow to the Pure Church

Of the many highlights of the SBC Convention in Greensboro this week, perhaps one of the saddest was the failure of the Convention to consider the proposed Resolution on Integrity in Church Membership offered by Tom Ascol. The resolution essentially proposed a further step in church reform by calling Southern Baptist churches to keep accurate membership rolls by removing the roughly 50% of the non-attending 16 million+ that are reported by the Convention, and by urging them to return to faithful practice of church discipline.

Ascol has offered some helpful reflections for those reform-minded among us. The resolution should be a no-brainer to folks who want a church comprised of regenerate, gospel-loving, service-attending, life-sharing, evagelistic, God-glorifying, sold-out followers of Jesus Christ. But sadly, only some 25-40% of the messengers at the Convention voted in favor of hearing the resolution.

Here's the Friday challenge... despite the decision at the convention, will all who love the Lord's bride work for her purity by faithfully praying for and bringing reform to the membership practices of our local churches for the Glory of God? Below is the proposed resolution from Ascol. Read it and let me know what you think...

Resolution on Integrity in Church Membership
Submitted by Thomas Ascol

Whereas this 148th annual session of the Southern Baptist Convention marks the 26th anniversary of the conservative resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention; and

Whereas at the heart of this resurgence has been a determination to return to an unashamed commitment to the inerrancy and infallibilty of the Bible as the written Word of God; and

Whereas the Baptist Faith and Message states that the Scriptures are "the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried" (Article 1); and

Whereas the inerrant, infallible Word of God instructs us not to bear false witness (Exodus 20:16), but to put away lying and to speak truthfully to his neighbor (Ephesians 4:25); and

Whereas in 2004 the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Church Profiles indicated that there are 16,267,494 members in Southern Baptist churches; and

Whereas well over one half of those members never attend or participate meaningfully in the life of any local Southern Baptist church and are thus no different than non-members; and
Whereas the ideal of a regenerate church membership has long been and remains a cherished Baptist principle; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED that the messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina, June 13-14, 2006, urge Southern Baptists to repent of our failure to maintain responsible church membership, and be it further

RESOLVED that we urge the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention to repent of the widespread failure among us to obey Jesus Christ in the practice of church discipline (Matthew 18:15-18), and be it further

RESOLVED that we plead with pastors and church leaders to lead their churches to study and implement our Lord’s teachings on this essential church practice, and be it further

RESOLVED that we encourage denominational servants to support and encourage churches that seek to recover and implement our Savior’s teachings on church discipline, especially when such efforts result in the reduction in the number of members that are reported in those churches, and be it finally

RESOLVED that we commit to pray for our churches as they seek to honor the Lord Jesus Christ through reestablishing integrity to church membership and to the reporting of statistics in the Annual Church Profile


Stephen said...

I watched on the live interent feed as this resolution was defeated. Indeed, very sad. God bless Tom Ascol for his resolve and purpose to work for a reforming church.

Mathew Sims said...

I thought it was interesting from reading on Tom's blog that he thinks his standing up against the prohibition hurt his chance at passing the resolution--which is a shame if it is so.

Mathew B. Sims
Soli Deo Gloria