A regenerate, disciplined church…

This is the letter that went out two days ago to church members who have not been in active participation of our church ministries since Oct. 1, 2006. I publish it here with the hope that it might stimulate others to follow suit.


February 27, 2007

Mr. and Mrs. XXX XXXXXX
PO Box 77777
Arlington, TX 76013

Dear XXX and XXXXXX:

Parkview Baptist Church continues to be a place where God’s people grow together in a mutual love for the Lord, for the Word of God, and for each other. As your pastor, I am especially concerned that all of our church members are experiencing the joys of salvation that accompany fellowship with those who have placed their trust in Jesus Christ.

The Word of God teaches that the Lord’s people should not “forsake the assembly as is the custom of some” (Hebrews 10:25). Again and again in Scripture, those who have believed the Gospel are exhorted to persevere in their faith, knowing that their salvation is close at hand. (Matthew 24:13). Believers are admonished to show good works, demonstrating the power of the Lord to transform lives from selfish pursuits unto a life of service to God (Ephesians 4:11-20). We are to be a people who come together for worship and service with glad hearts, rejoicing that the Lord has called us out of darkness and into his marvelous light (Psalm 122:1; 1 Peter 2:9).

With these truths in mind, I want to write you as your brother and friend to tell you how sorely you have been missed among the saints of God at Parkview Baptist Church. This Wednesday night, February 28, 2007, your church family is going to spend extra time in prayer for you, asking that the Lord would restore health of body and fervor of spirit to you that you may return to serving him faithfully.

Now it is possible that you have united with another church, and you are serving Christ with the fullness of grace that he supplies. If this is the case, we rejoice that you have found a family of faith with which to become more committed disciples of our Lord. In the event you have not been serving in a local church and supporting the work of our Lord’s ministry through that church, we at Parkview grieve over your lost enthusiasm for the Lord’s work.

The Scriptures are very bold about the spiritual dangers to believers who grow indifferrent to the Lord and his work (Revelation 3:15-16), and who depart from spiritual fellowship with his people (1 John 2:19). As your pastor, I am saddened that you may have grown discouraged in your faith, not finding strength and mercy to persevere through the trials that have distracted you from the glorious grace of our Lord and Savior. Perhaps this is my fault, that I have not been as faithful an under-shepherd to seek you and draw you back to the safe and loving fellowship of our Good Shepherd’s fold. To some degree, I hope this letter affirms my desire to see you grow in grace and commitment to follow the Lord by obedience to the gospel.

Parkview Baptist Church is committed to maintaining a healthy congregation that will not neglect each other’s spiritual discipline, or our own. For this reason, our church adopted a revised Constitution and Bylaws on October 1, 2006, which requires that the membership privileges of inactive members be suspended at the conclusion of six months without support of the church ministry through active worship participation or financial contribution. At the end of March 2007, six months will have passed since we adopted this provision of membership. Since that time, it has burdened our hearts that we have not enjoyed the fellowship we once knew with you.

If you have united with another church family, then please know that we are excited about the possibility of your serving Christ faithfully in that place. We would appreciate your letting us know so that we may rejoice with you in your continued faith and spiritual growth. If you have not united with another church family, but circumstances have arisen in your life that providentially hinder your active support of the ministry of Parkview Baptist Church, then we want to know about them so we can pray for you more specifically and earnestly.

If, instead, you have become lax in your spiritual growth, cold in your service to the Lord, and disinterested in joining God’s people for Sunday worship, then we sincerely hope to have the opportunity to visit with you about your Christian commitment before March 31, 2007, at which point your membership privileges at Parkview Baptist Church will be suspended.

As your pastor, please know that I am available to you if you would like to visit. I would cherish the opportunity to pray with you about God’s will for your life, and to encourage you in your spiritual walk. I hope to see you reconciled to a life of faithfulness and a service of rewarding obedience to Christ. Please know that I love you, and I am eagerly awaiting your reply to this letter of exhortation and encouragement.

In Christ,


10 thoughts on “A regenerate, disciplined church…

  1. Excellent letter, Ben. It speaks of a Pastor’s heart. You have inspired me. I wonder if I could get a copy of your church bylaws that speaks to this issue. A thorny issue that arises out of this is what does the bylaws allow for those shut-in or nursing home residents who cannot attend, nor give financially? Do you have an exception clause (not as if they can go to business meeting anyway). Also, my thought has been to make an “inactive” list, yet not report that list on the ACP. Is this how you do it as well?


  2. Two observations, concerning two aspects of this. First, the doing of this is an admirable thing. Kudos to you for having the courage to undertake a difficult but necessary task in obedience to God.

    Second, the manner and wording of the letter, how much you covered in the letter (as opposed to two or three steps, etc) is strictly a matter of your knowledge of your flock, there, and is not open to criticism by anyone outside. And we assume (at least I know I can) that this is an expression of obedience and responbility. I probably would have been more blunt than you.

    Well done, IMO.

  3. It’s an interesting letter. I used to belong to a church that practiced annual membership. Every person’s membership would terminate on December 31. Each person would then decide whether they would commit themselves to the work and ministry of the church. It was simply not possible to be a long time member who never showed up. For example, it was a common occurence to have 500 members and 480 in attendance every week.

    I think that’s a far better way of keeping the responsibilities of church membership in the forefront of people’s thoughts. It also prevents the unfortunate circumstance that you and nearly everyone else is facing on how to deal with people who isolate themselves from their church.

    The only downside I can see is that it prevents inflated membership numbers. Some ministers I have met seem to enjoy talking about large numbers of members without ever really specifying what weekly participation is like.

  4. Dear Ben,

    I as well would like to have a copy of your bylaws concerning this matter. We have people on our rolls that haven’t been regular attenders in years! I’ve spoken with them, and there just seems to be no desire by them to come back…but they want to stay on the rolls as active members.

    Go figure…


  5. And they said you only had the heart of a fortune hunter and pirate. Who would have ever known you had any shepherd of sheep clothing in that closet so full of “meany” garb.


  6. Dear Brother Ben,

    Bravo! I pray that good things will happen:

    1. Some delinquent members will become active again
    2. The church’s testimony of Christ will become more credible
    3. The active members will be checked against falling away

    Love in Christ,


  7. Was this letter sent out as the first contact to members in need of discipline?

    Or, did the steps of personal contact and small group contact outlined in Matthew 18
    precede such a letter?

  8. Correction:

    In the interest of accuracy, I should clarify. Over on Tom Ascol’s blog I stated that all of the persons who received this letter had been inactive for 18 months. That is true for all except one of them.

    One of the persons who received the letter was on our active church roll, and last attended in September of 2006. This member has communicated to me a reason for discontinued membership, though our church will readily forward a membership letter to another church when requested.

    This person did not receive Deacon visits, but was contacted by the pastor on several occasions, and I believe our associate pastor and his wife contacted this member also.

    The letter was sent to this member, though I already knew the issues involved, so that the church clerk would have a record that we were following all proper procedures before terminating membership privileges for any member.

    Just wanted to clear that up.


  9. This is a very well written leter. We have people in our rolls that have not been attending for years but insist they are active members. They have been spoken to but there seems to have no affect. Please forward me a copy of your bylaws concerning this matter.

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