Thursday, November 03, 2005

Homeland Church Security

This is a previous post from last year but I thought I would re-post it. A recent conversation with a friend has brought it back to the front of my mind:

Does anyone else out there in church think that the way most churches receive new members is strange? Don't get me wrong, we all want to grow as churches.

But the majority of the churches I have been have the following procedure for the application of new members:
1. Someone comes down during an invitation to ask for membership.
2. The Pastor asks the congregation what are the feelings on receiving them as members.
3. Everyone accepts.
4. They are received and given the right hand of fellowship (shaking hands, not a punch.)

I understand that every church is different and some don't have the above procedure. It is probably a predominantly Baptist tradition, but every church I have ever been in has done this.

So here is my question: If church membership is so important, why is it so easy to join? I don't fault the pastors, they are just fulfilling a tradition that they have always performed. But as a shepherd, your job is to watch out for the flock. It seems like it would be mighty easy for a wolf to join.

And in fact if you asked me, I would tell you that the problem with churches is not that they need more Christians, but it's the ones they have now that are the problem. Too many people join and you never see them again. They are just another name on the roll. Another deadbeat Christian who isn't contributing to the cause of Christ.

I know Rick Warren mentions this in The Purpose Driven Church. At least I think he does; it's been a while since I read it. But this is about more than coming up with a model for new members. It's about Church security. Much is said these days about Homeland and National security issues as we face one of the gravest dangers in our country's history: terrorism. One of the reasons terrorism is so dangerous is because it is about infiltration, not invasion. If terrorists fought a conventional war, the war would be over.

Satan doesn't fight conventionally either. And it's time churches tightened down on Homeland church security. Wolves are bouncing from church to church, doing damage to God's work and they're coming through the front door because our screening process is our greatest weakness.

I realize this is probably a sensitive subject among church members. I mean after all, when someone comes down the aisle to join your church, how do you say, "We'll think about it." But truly there should be an evaluation period. If someone truly wants to join your church and wants to be a help to God's work, they will wait through evaluation. I have a feeling that wolves would just move on to easier prey.

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