“Piper… continued to express his jubilation over the church’s decision on Monday”
This is kind of off topic, but I thought this church had attendance in the thousands, and, yet, when they call a pastor, only 792 members are present to vote? Where are the other 2200 or 3200??
It's actually not that uncommon for votes to be significantly below attendance. I studied parliamentary procedure at BJU and our teacher recommended a quorum of 10% of the membership. Why? Because churches are notorious for people not showing up to announced business meetings.
Yea, but on the day that you are calling a pastor to eventually replace John Piper? Only 800 adults out of church of thousands, and probably 3 times as many adults as showed up at such a significant business meeting?
I agree with you - the turnout is kind of shockingly low. That being said, the necessary quota for any kind of church business meeting at my church is 1/3 of active voting membership...so not all attendees (we've run anywhere between low 90's to 130+) are eligible to vote.
"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells
(Most) Baptists really take congregational assent on matters like this very seriously. Given the notoriously low attendance at meetings, doesn't it make more sense to move to some kind of mail-in or online vote, or to extend the voting period over several days so that more people can weigh in?
Maybe in small Baptist churches this would be just a hassle, but in mid-size to large churches, I think some changes could increase participation.
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Back to Bethlehem Baptist.
In sum - my view: Bethlehem has planned and executed an orderly transition!
Information on Jim
I was a member at Bethlehem for about five years, and I was one of those who attended business meetings. In reality, 792 is a big turn out compared to the average attendance of other business meetings that I attended.
The church membership might actually be less than 3000, I'm guessing. As 2-3 times as many attend the church who don't go on to become a member. I think that's a fault of the church there, but it's a fact nonetheless. If I remember right, at one time it was around 1800 members (back in 2009 or so). So that's a good turnout from the members.
But a bigger point is the good transition that has come from this, as Jim mentions. I was impressed by the unanimity of the elder board and also the percentage of the ones who voted. The whole process went amazingly well, considering how some of the church business matters have gone in years past. I believe it truly did blow away everyone's expectations.
The interesting thing to note will be how the church fares once Piper is gone. How many are attending just because of his notoriety? I hope that the church continues thriving after he leaves (in mid-2013), and that they all grow through the process - as the church is more than just one man.
Striving for the unity of the faith, for the glory of God ~ Eph. 4:3, 13; Rom. 15:5-7 I blog at Fundamentally Reformed. Follow me on Twitter.