Comment number 101 on Tom Ascol’s resolution on regenerate church membership comes from a Southern Baptist we all know. In fact, some really admire him; others have dedicated their blogs to expressing their grief over him. Some fundies are having a cow, while other Southern Baptists are encouraged by the broad support as seen in the public endorsement of Tom’s resolution (for the record, I find myself in the second camp). Who is it that I am talking about?
In the comments section of Tom’s blogpost, Warren writes the following:
I have been personally urging the adoption of a resolution on Membership like yours for over 20 years. I hope it passes. The restoration of the integrity of membership is an absolute foundation to the spiritual health of a congregation.
Saddleback’s membership class, our covenant, and the accountability to it are the secrets behind our members willingness to sacrifice to reach people for Christ. Imagine a church that went 15 years without a building, setting up and tearing down a church for 10,000 people (at that time in the 90s) week after week, regardless of weather. The way you bring members in is the level of commitment they will live up to.
Most people have no idea- zero- of what is Saddleback Church is really like. They have bought into all the stupid misinformation that circulates on the internet, and in books by people who aren’t even believers and have never even talked to me.
The fact is, for 28 years, from the first day of our chuch, we have dilligently practiced church discipline, used the historic Baptist practice of covenants (we have 4, including a membership covenant), have a required membership class, and have graduated over 15,000 members through a six month Systematic Theology course called “Foundations.” I would match any 1,000 members of Saddleback to any 1,000 members of any other church in terms of spiritual maturity, godliness, Scriptures memorized, serving in ministry, and doing missions around the world.
We take membership extremely seriously at Saddleback Church, and people who don’t abide by the covenant are disciplined and removed. We have no such thing as “inactive or non-resident membership” which is a contradiction.
People probably also don’t know that during the past 10 years, most churches were plateaued or declining, we’ve baptized over 20,000 NEW adult believers, put 28,000 studing the Bible weekly in 3,400 small groups, and sent 7,766 of our members to evangelize and plant churches overseas in 68 countries. There’s not another church in America with a more mature membership. It’s because we stress covenants!
Never believe second- hand sources about Saddleback. They are ALWAYS wrong.
By the way, I am not a hyper-Calvinist. I am a Kuyper-Calvinist! Abraham Kuyper was right about so much. You can see his influence all through Purpose Driven Life. (smile)
Years ago, you may remember a lecture by Mark C at a SBC Founder’s Breakfast that compared the similarities between the “the children of Spurgeon and the children of Warren.” I got a kick out of that lecture since my great Grandfather was led to Christ by Spurgeon, went to Spurgeon’s College, and then was sent by Spurgeon to America to plant churches. I have Spurgeon’s handwritten sermons framed on my office walls- passed down from 4 generations of pastors! Another little known fact is that another part of my spiritual heritage is that my namesake Pilgrim ancestor, Richard Warren, came over on that little boat, the Mayflower to escape religious persecution.
Please forgive any typos in this. I don’t usually participate in blogs but I care deeply about this issue, and so I typed this out quickly.