John Hammett has written one of the best books on Baptist ecclesiology in recent years, entitled Biblical Foundations for Baptist Churches: A Contemporary Ecclesiology. In it, Hammett devotes nearly 70 pages to the issue of regenerate church membership. In this brief excerpt, I want to provide the four reasons Hammett gives for why we should recover/pursue regenerate church membership. They are:
1. The recovery of meaningful church membership should be the highest priority of Baptist churches today because of the effect it will have on our corporate witness.
“Could the recovery of meaningful membership allow the light of the gospel to shine through us with greater clarity and beauty?””
2. Our corporate health will be strengthened.
“How can the church live the life is commanded to live–loving one another, praying for one another, encouraging one another–if many of its members are unregenerate?”
3. The potential for awakening literally millions of lost church members.
“Many chronically absent church members whose lives give no evidence of regeneration may be trusting in their church membership to get them to heaven. A recovery of meaningful church membership would involve a challenge to such members.”
4. Recovering meaningful church membership will honor Christ.
“Christ is honored when his bride is holy, but he cannot be so honored as long as many of the members making up that bride live like lost people. The Charleson Summary of Church Discipline says that when churches allow unconverted people to crowd into them, they ‘make the church of Christ a harlot.'”
– John S. Hammett, Biblical Foundations for Baptist Churches: A Contemporary Ecclesiology (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2005), 114-16.
More excerpts and articles on church membership can be found by clicking here.