Friday Morning: Mark Dever -- "Membership and Discipline"
[Note: When I return to Indianapolis, I will write a brief article, focusing on my personal reflections on the conference, probably on Saturday or Monday.]
This is the final message of the ATC Conference.
- Where would you go in the Bible to demonstrate that the Christian life is not just about “Jesus and me”—though that is certainly there?
- I think you can demonstrate this in almost every book in the NT.
- In case people think you are proof-texting, use the book of James. [overview of James followed]
- When we're talking about church membership, we're talking about formalizing our relationship with each other. Even in James, we have a unique expression of Christian love (5:14). The elders of what church? His church. Plural elders, singular church--the pattern we see in the NT.
- Two bits of theology we've made referenced to:
- Almost always, the church mentioned in the NT is referencing a local church.
- Matters dealing with the church are mentioned both explicitly and implictly. Local church membership is taught implicitly in the NT. A way you can construct this with people is a membership triangle: pastor, me, other Christians. Then start filling in with verses dealing with those interrelationships.
- I'm assuming a good deal of agreement on this so we're going to spend the rest of our time in Q&A about these issues.
Highlights from Q&A:
- Q: Any distinction between discipline and cleaning the rolls? A: There is no such thing as cleaning the rolls. We do not clean the rolls.
- Q: Talk about your membership class? A: We have six classes, 45 minutes long. First, is statement of faith; second is NH confession of faith/church covenant; third on defense of church membership; fourth on history; fifth and sixth on how we work as a church.
- Q: How do you deal with a regular attender but non-member? A: I encourage them to join or go to a church where they submit to the elders.
- Q: What plan do you have for members who are sporadic attenders? A: We preach against that, pray for them, and confront them when needed.
- Q: Do you give details of moral sins at public discipline? A: We don't give details, just categories.
- Q: How do you lead the elders in regard to congregational care? A: Praying through the membership list, asking about specific people in elders' meeting and following up (Acts 15 "see how they are doing")
- Q: What about deacons who disqualifies himself and the rest of the deacons are not willing to deal with it? A: What Kevin said, put out or come out.
- Q: What is our responsibility as a church to people in discipline who leave the church before the discipline is resolved? A: It depends in large part on what you tell them when they come in to the church.
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