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Let these stones be a witness to what we have done here this day.

The ACP this year

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When I arrived at my new church, I found that we had a mess for a “church roll.” 1,600 members – 300 non-resident, 500 SS enrollment (which is inflated by about 150 from a mission church) and we were averaging about 150 in SS attendance. Less than 10% of our “membership” in Bible Study.

Now our attendance and membership numbers have risen over the last three months. We just passed a visionary, but reachable budget at a 100% vote. But our ACP is looming.

The Committee on Resolutions, for whatever its reasons, chose not to present to the SBC Dr. Tom Ascol’s Resolution concerning integrity in reporting our numbers.

A resolution is not a binding thing. It is meant to be a standard to which other aspire. Well, with or without the endorsement of the Committee on Resolutions, this resolution has become a standard to which I aspire.

While we will not throw away any names or addresses, our church will be cutting to real numbers of active members and Sunday School Enrollment when we turn in our numbers. We have people on our roll that we know are members of other churches, but because they joined a church of a different denomination, we never got a request for a letter, and never removed them. I am also sure of some who joined “By Statement” and never requested a letter, therefore they are being counted twice.

The world’s largest denomination is about to lose about 1,000 members. I hate that. I am for the SBC. I want us to grow, not shrink. However, those 1,000 folks have been gone for a while now. The truth is, we are just going to own it this year.

Then, when we start winning our community to the Lord, baptizing them and connecting them to our local body… the numbers reported will be relevant.

Thanks for the standard, Dr. Ascol.

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19 Responses to “The ACP this year”


  1. Judy Harrison
    on Sep 26th, 2006
    @ 9:01 pm

    Yea ! Good for you Art. This has needed to be done for a long time. Thanks !


  2. Anonymous
    on Sep 26th, 2006
    @ 9:06 pm

    Sir, thank you for this move of integrity. As one of your missionaries in the 10-40 window I will be praying for the church as it seeks to visibly be of service to real people not shadows. My children are studying about integrity in school. I appreciate now having a current and excellent example for them to discuss.

    Ms. Aurora


  3. art rogers
    on Sep 26th, 2006
    @ 9:21 pm

    Judy, thanks. You have a blog, but no posts! Put something up for us all to read.

    For those who are reading this, Judy is a church member and also great servant at our church.

    Anonymous,

    Thank you for the encouragement. If you are teaching your kids using this example, click the link and print out Dr. Ascol’s resolution.


  4. GeneMBridges
    on Sep 26th, 2006
    @ 9:41 pm

    A. The fact that your church is willing to do this with a new pastor speaks to the presence of God in those who are in your church. Praise the Lord for that!

    B. Now, watch what the Lord may well do. When churches do this, they are repenting of sin by doing acts in keeping with repentance. When you submit your ACP, might I suggest you announce the new numbers publicly on a Sunday morning and get your elders/deacons to join you in public prayer asking the Lord to accept your repentance and thanking Him for His forgiving the congregation for having allowed this to happen. Their repentance is a demonstration that God has been merciful.

    C. I’m going to go out on a limb here, but, being a church that keeps numbers this way myself, I can safely say that you’ll find yourself at some point wondering where all the people are coming from. Your attendance is very likely to outnumber your membership or come very, very close to it on any given Sunday. I know of some churches where this has been/is being done consistently who have found themselves with something like 200 in members but 300 or more people in regular attendance on Sunday. That’s all the members at best with 100 visitors/regular non-member attenders; alternatively, if there are truants among the members, you’ll have over 100 visitors/non-regulars (or whatever the equivalent would be for your church). Granted the numbers may or may not be that high, but the point I’m making is that I have witness God honor the purging of the rolls by adding to the rolls.

    D. You’ll also find out that with fewer people and this work done and in the consciousness of your congregation that folks will be contacting truants more consistently and bringing them back into the fold if they wander away. You’re promoting the priesthood of all believers! Woohoo!


  5. Tom
    on Sep 26th, 2006
    @ 10:06 pm

    Art:

    Praise God for you and your church’s integrity! May your example embolden others to pursue a similar course and may the Lord be pleased to pour out rich blessings on your life and ministry. He honors those who honor Him. And this step certainly is God honoring.


  6. A 10-40 Window Missionary
    on Sep 27th, 2006
    @ 5:56 am

    Art,

    Great to hear that ACTUAL attendance and membership is growing. The actions of Skelly Drive take courage…but isn’t that what we hear in the first nine or so versus of Joshuah?

    Bty the way, when will we see the resumption of the “drive through” Nativity scene?


  7. Kevin Bussey
    on Sep 27th, 2006
    @ 9:11 am

    Good for you. That is a battle I’m not fighting yet! ;)


  8. Wes Kenney
    on Sep 27th, 2006
    @ 10:12 am

    Brad Williams, blogging pastor of First Baptist Church in Plaquemine, Louisiana, has blogged about this. Two relevant posts of his are Church Rolls and AWOL Members (this is a link) and A Matter of Grave Necessity (this is also a link).

    Our church has a committee working on re-thinking our constitution and bylaws, which includes our church covenant, and we plan to make this a part of that re-thinking. We’ll be adapting some of Pastor Williams’ strategies.


  9. art rogers
    on Sep 27th, 2006
    @ 11:50 am

    10-40,

    Wow! You are a native. Unfortunately, the City of Tulsa has locked us in terribly by making the road in front of the church a one way street… until it gets tot he end of our property, at which it becomes a two way street again.

    Grrr. It is VERY difficult to get folks here who have not ever been to the church before.

    Also, it completely shut down the drive through living Nativity because the road can’t handle the traffic.

    Thanks for the joy, though. We are growning and doing wonderful things – by the Lord’s mercy.

    Wes,

    Thanks for the links. Good reading.

    Art


  10. Jamie Wootten
    on Sep 27th, 2006
    @ 11:53 am

    Glad you are doing this Art. Integrity in our numbers has been an issue for a long time. Maybe one day our convention as a whole will deal with it. But until then it will have to be individuals like yourself who take this stand.

    I think my church is slowly coming on board with this and we are preparing to “update” the roll. We too will be shrinking in the actuals that we report. I believe that God is going to do a mighty work in our church and our community in the years to come. He doesn’t need me to exaggerate the numbers for Him!


  11. Jeff Richard Young
    on Sep 28th, 2006
    @ 2:11 am

    Dear Brother Art,

    I’m very thankful that you’re doing this before I do. If you get fired or tarred and feathered, you can let me know how not to do it!

    Love in Christ,

    Jeff


  12. art rogers
    on Sep 28th, 2006
    @ 6:21 am

    Jeff,

    Ha! If I am fired I’ll be selling such information as a consultant, so put a little room in your budget for me. ;)


  13. Wayne Smith In His Name
    on Sep 28th, 2006
    @ 12:59 pm

    Art,

    You are to late for the Budget request for Bro Jeff. The new budget was voted and locked in this past Sunday.

    In His Name


  14. X Law Man
    on Sep 28th, 2006
    @ 2:58 pm

    Art,

    Our church just rewrote the Constitution and By-Laws. I led the committee to put in two “new” ways to be removed from our membership role in addition to the “traditional” ones (death, go to another church, personal request). You will now be removed from our membership in the following two ways: loss of contact and failure to attend.

    If you do not attend for 6 months, your name will be put before the church in a business session. The church will be asked to pray and contact these people. The SS teachers or other people should have already done this in the 6 months leading up to this meeting. I will then send a letter to the individual indicating what the church has done. If the individual does not attend again in 6 more months for a total of 12 months, their name is removed. Bottom line is that they only have to attend once in 52 Sundays to remain a member. This is still pretty pathetic, but closer toward a responsible church membership.

    Second, if a church member moves far enough way to quit attending and leaves no forwarding address, they will be removed. Same procedure as before. I submit the names to the church after a 6 month absence. The church is asked for input concerning whether or not they have an address on the people. After a second six months, they are removed.

    We just published our first two “lists” and sent out letters to chronic absentees. I have not gotten any “nasty grams” in the mail, yet (crossed fingers). We will see what happens between now and March.

    One dear saint asked me, “If they ever contact us and ask for their membership we will give it to them, won’t we?” I responded, “Not if they have been removed from our membership, they will have to join another church by statement. They will not have a church home if they fail to attend here.”


  15. Matt Snowden
    on Sep 28th, 2006
    @ 9:36 pm

    Thanks for the challenging post. You will be in my prayers. Many Baptists are really prospects for evangelism when you think about it. They aren’t unchurched but dechurched. We have a good deal of work to do. Thanks again.


  16. Geoff Baggett
    on Sep 29th, 2006
    @ 7:55 am

    Art –
    Of course, we just planted this church less than five years ago … but we established our membership standards in our founding documents and our church covenant. Our people know that, when they commit to membership, they will be removed from the church membership roll after one year of non-attendance. Like you, all we require is attending once within a twelve-month period.

    We have removed approximately 20 people from the membership over our first four years. Our membership is about 130. Our weekly attendance is 160-180.

    Bottom line: As shepherds of the flock, we pastors must know for sure who we have to give an accounting for before the Lord.


  17. Paul Burleson
    on Sep 29th, 2006
    @ 12:16 pm

    Art,

    Several years ago our Pastor and Pastor’s counsel led our fellowship into a Covenant Renewal Month every March which is our birthday month for a ten year old fellowship. Mary and I are not presently members of that particular church because of a ministry else where, but, very well may be again.
    Each March the entire fellowship renews a covenant with each other. For whatever reason some may not, but all who remain make a new commitment. This serves both as a foundation for a new depth of commitment and a reason to evaluate where we are in our walk. It certainly eliminates any ethical problems with numbers.
    For the Burleson’s it was a very positive, though unusual, experience in a thoughtful and progressive local SBC church.

    Paul B.


  18. Anonymous
    on Oct 1st, 2006
    @ 1:40 am

    This post has been removed by a blog administrator.


  19. art rogers
    on Oct 1st, 2006
    @ 7:24 am

    Anonymous,

    Feel free to discuss this topic on your own blog, and be sure to sign your name.

    No hijacking my blog. This is clearly spelled out in the “Rules for Comments,” though I suspect you know this and choose to ignore it.

    Art

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