Church discipline letter goes viral - Non-attenders upset

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Jim's picture

In an interview Wednesday, Broers claimed Pedigo has not been to the church in 20 years and wondered why he was so “bent out of shape” about the letter.

About 100 people attend the church on a regular basis, Broers said. Having several hundred people on the church membership roll not attending sometimes prevented the congregation from meeting a quorum during business meetings, according to Broers.

Additional letters were set to go out to more members who do not attend regularly, but Broers requested those wait for a rewording of portions.

Beth Gentry Carder stopped attending the church around a year ago due to work reasons. She said she wasn’t mad about the letter, but was mad at the way it was handled. She doesn’t want to return.

Donn R Arms's picture

They are right to expect church members to participate and to discipline those who do not---however, this was a horrible way to handle it. The first question is, how did they get to this state with so many on the roles who did not attend. The church has been failing it's members for some time it seems.

Instead, each truant member should get a visit from the pastor and one or two deacons:

"Mr. Smith, I am Pastor Jones of XYZ Baptist church (just in case the member did not even know who his pastor was). We are here to ask for your forgiveness. When you joined our church we made a commitment to you to watch over you and care for you, and we have failed you in this. Will you forgive us?"

Then a conversation could be had about Mr. Smith's situation.

Donn R Arms

Ron Bean's picture

#1 The imperative of maintaining your church's membership roll and of contacting members whose attendance becomes irregular. 

#2 The imperative of personal contact and loving confrontation with members whose commitment to membership starts to fade.

#3 A pastor who "unfriends" or "blocks" fellow Christians on Facebook may be acting juvenile.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Rob Fall's picture

Years ago I served as Church Clerk. Every couple of years we would prune the membership roll. There were only six or seven names involved at a time.

In San Francisco, folks would join then move or otherwise disappear into the crowd. The names came from returned (No Forwarding Address) mailings the church sent out during the year.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Bert Perry's picture

What about visits saying "hey, we miss you" and the like before things come to a head?  Are we so busy with programs that we don't have time to make disciples?

In this church's defense, they were going to take it on the chin no matter what they did.  In many parts of the South, one's church is often seen almost as an inheritance one gets from Mom & Dad, and as a result many see the church as more of a social club than a church.  So to bring in Biblical notions of fellowship, and the lack thereof, and to actually keep track of who comes "to the club", is going to be a hard sell.

All the more reason to listen to Donn!

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Ron Bean's picture

One of the best safe guards to these kinds of problems is to make sure new members understand the depth of commitment the church expects from them. I've even heard church membership commitment described as "almost like marrying the church". 

While there's no replacement for face-to-face meeting(s) detailing the level of commitment expected of members, I've seen "paper" attempts made like:

-a member must not be absent for more than 6 months, unless providentially hindered. (I had a member who faithfully came once every 6 months.)

-a member must not be willingly absent from the Lord's Table because this demonstrates disobedience to a clear command form the Lord. (Never enforced.)

Funny story: When Mark Dever first came to CHBC he had to do a massive cleaning of the membership roll. After purging the hundreds of dead members they began to try to find members who were living but who address was unknown. It was suggested to Dever that, "The problem isn't that we don't know where they are and can't find them. The problem is that they know where we are and WON'T find us."

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan