From the Pastor: “Cleaning” The Church Rolls?
Dear TVBC Family,
Hope this finds you well on this November day that feels like spring!
I wanted to take a moment to update you on something that we presented in the July business meeting. At that meeting, I informed you that we were working on intentionally reaching out to our inactive church members to help us “clean up” the church member rolls. We have 371 people on the church membership rolls that have not been active at least once (e.g., attended Sunday service, Wednesday, etc.) in the past year.
Judy has been working hard this past month to prepare letters to these members. (The letter is at the bottom of this e-mail after my signature.) Those letters were sent out in the past week to nearly 371 people and roughly 150 households.
What’s the purpose of “cleaning the rolls”?
As the letter below details, we aren’t doing this to be mean or not love those who are inactive. In fact, that is the very reason we are doing this! Anyone on this list is welcome back at any time.
Of course, there’s no place this side of heaven where we’d love to see them more than back with us in church at TVBC. This doesn’t mean they aren’t going to church somewhere now. We certainly pray they are!
We just know these 371 who signed the church covenant and pledged before God at one time (some decades ago, some in recent years) aren’t coming to church where they promised to invest.
So, again, pastor, why do this?
1 – Above all, we do this because God’s holy name and glory is at stake in this fallen world. Remember that Paul was passionately concerned about who was associated with the church at Corinth (See 1 Cor. 5).
2 – At TVBC, we do this because we believe membership matters. And, as such, membership in our church should reflect, as best as possible by God’s grace and strength, membership in Christ’s eternal Kingdom.
This means that we don’t take in or let go of members lightly. It’s a serious matter before the Lord. Simply “removing someone from the rolls” will always be handled with the greatest carefulness and biblical integrity before the Lord, even if the member himself or herself has been unconcerned.
3 – We do this for those inactive members on this list. For instance, if they became a member of another church and that had never been relayed to us, then we were simply making our records accurate.
But if they are going nowhere to church, or to some non-evangelical, Gospel-centered church, then they need to be reminded of the Gospel that they once declared and the promises they once held.
4 – We do this for the active members, too, at TVBC. All of us who serving and are active now need to be retold of the importance that Christ takes the church—both local and universal. Such a time as this also reminds us of our of the priority of our participation.
Hebrews 10:24-25 warns believers not give up the assembling of ourselves. This is why Paul also wrote in all of his letter with the understanding that Christians would be active and present in their local church. After all, we a family, a building, and the Body of Christ.
5 – We do this for the health of our local church at TVBC. Just as an absent employee that is constantly forgiven and not reprimanded for habitually being late or absent, it is eternally more not good for a church like ours to have so many of its members “AWOL.”
Honestly, it is dangerous and misleading. If we have hundreds of members that are absent, it conveys the incorrect message about what it means to be a member of the body.
6 – As pastor-elder-teachers at TVBC, we are those that must give an account to God one day for our shepherding (Heb. 13:17; 1 Cor. 3:11-15, etc ). And we need to know who we are accountable for in the local church. Remember that God took Israel’s spiritual leaders to the fire for repeated unfaithfulness (Ezek. 34, etc.).
If you have any questions, please let me know.
Church discipline in cleaning the rolls correctly carried out is one of the most potent evangelistic devices God has given us. This process reminds us about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the true nature of saving faith, and the urgent need to follow Him.
Have a great Wednesday in the Lord’s name!