In this article, I want to make you aware of a special project that is being undertaken and then to solicit your prayers on its behalf.
What we have is a small team, led by June Schleimer, who will be identifying & contacting persons who are MEMBERS of First Baptist, but NOT ACTIVELY INVOLVED in the life of the church. That’s Phase 1 of the project. Then in Phase 2, the team will identify persons in the church who are ACTIVE, but not currently MEMBERS.
With respect to those who are members, but not active (Phase 1), we expect to find that most are affiliated with another church, whether here in Harlan or elsewhere. If so, we will bless them in that. However, for those who are not affiliated elsewhere, we will have the opportunity to encourage them, and let them know we care about them.
THE PURPOSE OF THIS PROJECT IS NOT TO PURGE “DEAD WEIGHT” FROM OUR MEMBERSHIP ROLLS! Rather, the purpose is to reach out to those who may be in spiritual jeopardy. In fact, I would argue that a person who professes to know Christ, but is not participating in the life of a church, IS in spiritual jeopardy.
Check out Ezekiel 34 for a glimpse into what the LORD thinks about spiritual leaders who do pursue persons who have “wandered away” from the faith or faith community.
Anyway, the team will need to handle these situations with great sensitivity and will thus need your prayers.
In Phase 2, the team will attempt to encourage persons who are active in the life of the church to take the next step in their faith journey by becoming a member of First Baptist Harlan.
Isn’t formal membership an antiquated idea . . . and unnecessary?
Certainly, the idea of formal membership has been degraded in our culture. There’s no question about that. However, I believe the Bible is actually quite forceful in saying (a) membership is REQUIRED of Christians and (b) is NECESSARY for their spiritual health & well-being.
I expect the membership team will want me to do some teaching on this subject at some point, so I will refrain from doing so in this venue. For now, let’s consider some of the reasons a person may be active with us, but not a formal member.
1. The person may be relatively new to the church and still “checking us out.”
2. The person may not be a Christian and thus not eligible for membership.
3. The person may be struggling over the notion of being baptized by immersion, which is one of the qualifications for membership.
4. The person may think they’re a member when they’re not.
5. The person may not be aware of the procedure for becoming a member.
6. The person may not be aware of the importance or necessity of membership.
7. The person may be rebellious toward God and unwilling to take this step of obedience.
I suspect the team will encounter all of these possibilities, and again, will need your prayers.