I once recommended to someone on the church’s ‘Membership Committee’ that we begin to visit all of the people who were still listed among the church’s members, but who had not attended any service of the church in as long as 15 years, and encourage them to attend faithfully or remove them from church rolls. The suggestion got around to others, and the responses ranged from typical resistance to change to disturbing ignorance of biblical teaching: ‘we just don’t do that here’, ‘people don’t want to be told what to do,’ ‘who are we to take people off God’s roll?’
That was years ago, and nothing has changed. Only thirty to forty percent of the church’s ‘membership’ attends on any give Sunday, and no one seems to care.
Fortunately, the Southern Baptist Convention, the denomination to which I and my church belong, has taken steps to address the regenerate membership issue by passing resolutions encouraging churches to admit only those who exhibit signs of regeneration and to return to the practice of church discipline, in which the church actually demonstrates concern for the ability of its members to live a Christian life.
With the types of resistance that are entrenched in most SBC churches, one wonders how long it will take for the Convention’s non-binding resolutions to have any effect upon local congregations. George Barna and other researchers of Christian culture have found that so-called Christians behave no differently than those claiming no religious faith at all: trickle-down cannot occur soon enough, it would seem.