ben cole, who is the pastor at a church in arlington texas, sent this letter to inactive church members in hopes that they would return to fellowship with their local body.

i believe that if more of our churches (all?) would forsake their pride of numbers on the roll, pride of desiring to be thought of kindly over concern for the eternal destiny of souls, and teach their members the biblical standard of regenerate church membership, our churches would be more biblical and effective.

(HT: tom ascol)

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,

BSC

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