Thursday, November 04, 2010

North Carolina association adopts regenerate church membership resolution

Branton Burleson, pastor of Christ Covenant Community Church in Hendersonville, North Carolina introduced a resolution on regenerate church membership to the Carolina Baptist Association of Southern Baptist churches last month at their semi-annual meeting. After printed copies of the resolution were distributed to the messengers, it was adopted unanimously.

The resolution is based on the one adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention in its 2008 annual meeting in Indianapolis. It is great to see pastors, churches and associations continuing to affirm this vitally important biblical principle which Baptists have historically advocated. Perhaps the Lord will use this kind of attention on the issue to provoke ongoing biblical renewal in our churches.

Below is the text of the resolution adopted by the Carolina Baptist Association.

On Regenerate Church Membership and Church Member Restoration
October 2010

WHEREAS, The ideal of a regenerate church membership has long been and remains a cherished Baptist principle, with Article VI of the Baptist Faith and Message (2000) describing the church as a “local congregation of baptized believers”; and

WHEREAS, A New Testament church is comprised only of those who have been born again by the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the Word, becoming disciples of Jesus Christ, the local church’s only Lord, by grace through faith (John 3:5; Ephesians 2:8-9), which church practices believers’ only baptism by immersion (Matthew 28:16-20), and the Lord’s supper (Matthew 26:26-30); and

WHEREAS, Local associations, state conventions, and the Southern Baptist Convention compile statistics reported by the churches to make decisions for the future; and

WHEREAS, The 2009 Southern Baptist Convention annual Church Profiles indicate that there are 16,160,088 members in Southern Baptist churches; and

WHEREAS, Those same profiles indicate that only 6,207,488 of those members attend a primary worship service of their church in a typical week; and

WHEREAS, The Scriptures admonish us to exercise church discipline as we seek to restore any professed brother or sister in Christ who has strayed from the truth and is unrepentantly in sin (Matthew 18:15-35; Galatians 6:1); and

WHEREAS, The messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, June 10-11, 2008, urged our churches to maintain a regenerate membership by acknowledging the necessity of spiritual regeneration and Christ’s lordship for all members; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That we humbly urge our churches of the Carolina Baptist Association meeting at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Hendersonville, North Carolina, October 26, 2010 to maintain accurate membership rolls for the purpose of fostering ministry and accountability among all members of the congregation; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we urge the churches of the Carolina Baptist Association to repent of any failure among us to live up to our professed commitment to regenerate church membership and any failure to obey Jesus Christ in the practice of lovingly correcting wayward church members (Matthew 18:15-18); and be it further

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

RESOLVED, That we humbly urge the churches of the Carolina Baptist Association and their pastors to implement a plan to minister to, counsel, and restore wayward church members based upon the commands and principles given in the Word of God (Matthew 18:15-35; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15; Galatians 6:1; James 5:19-20).

2 comments:

Bob Cleveland said...

For an Association to adopt it is an easy thing, and is meaningless unless the local church does likewise, and acts on it.

If the local church adopts the position represented by the resolution, the Association's action is irrelevant.

Here's hoping the action is more meaningful in NC than it was for the SBC two years ago. Like they say, no raindrop thinks it's responsible for the flood.

Branton said...

Bob,

In one sense, you are absolutely right that this action "is any easy thing, and is meaningless unless the local church does likewise, and acts on it." I couldn't agree more.

However, while my greatest prayer has been that individual pastors and churches in our association actually act on this resolution, I found great satisfaction in the increase in awareness of these problems. Most of the messengers at the meeting were average church members who wanted a copy to take with them. Adopting such a resolution as an association at least gives a historical record that such a step was made since it will now be printed in our annual book of reports. It also gives our individual churches a document to (hopefully) use in order to draft a similar resolution for their church or to simply use this one as a guide for their church.

Time will tell how much difference this action made, but as for me and my church, we will continue to serve the Lord and to labor for healthier churches in the Carolina Baptist Association.