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Messengers pass amended membership resolution -- updated
Wednesday, June 11, 2008 - 9:30:00 AM

Messengers moments ago passed an amended version of the regenerate church membership/church member restoration resolution. Among the most significant changes, the new resolution adds four paragraphs and calls on the SBC "to repent of any failure" regarding church membership practices.


The amendment was proposed by Tom Ascol, a messenger from Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Fla. His amendment passed on a show of ballots by roughly three-fifths of messengers, and the final amended version of the resolution passed nearly unanimously.


An amendment by Malcolm Yarnell, a messenger from Texas, also passed, adding references to believer's baptism and the Lord's Supper and a scriptural reference concerning church discipline. The Committee on Resolutions and Yarnell came to an agreement concerning that change and it passed easily. But the committee opposed Ascol's amendment, saying that many pastors -- including pastors on the committee -- already are practicing responsible membership and it would be unwise to call on all pastors to repent. Ascol urged passage of his amendment by saying "if we need to repent of anything” in the SBC, it's “how we have failed to maintain biblical standards” in membership.


[A full version of the amended resolution will be posted when it is obtained.]


The two additional WHEREAS paragraphs from Ascol's amendment follow:





"WHEREAS, the 2007 Southern Baptist Convention annual Church Profiles indicate that there are 16,266,920 members in Southern Baptist churches; and

 

"WHEREAS, Those same profiles indicate that only 6,148,868 of those members attend a primary worship service of their church in a typical week; and"

 

The two additional RESOLVED paragraphs from Ascol's amendment follow:

 




"RESOLVED, That we urge the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention to repent of the 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"

 


The resolution as originally presented by the Committee on Resolutions stated:

 

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 describing the church as a “local congregation of baptized believers”; and


WHEREAS, A New Testament church is composed 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); 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 Scriptures admonish us to seek to restore any professed brother or sister in Christ who has strayed from the truth and is in sin (Matthew 18:15-35, Galatians 6:1); now, therefore, be it

 

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, June 10-11, 2008, urge churches to maintain a regenerate membership by acknowledging the necessity of spiritual regeneration and Christ’s lordship for all members; and be it further

 

RESOLVED, That we humbly urge our churches to maintain accurate membership rolls for the purpose of fostering ministry and accountability among all members of the congregation; and be it finally

 

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


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