Issue #4: How to Clean Up the Rolls
In my last article (read here), I talked about why it’s important to clean up your membership rolls. In this edition, we’re going to explore a step by step process on how to do that.
6 Steps to Clean Up the Rolls
- Study biblical membership. I didn’t decide to clean up the rolls because I thought it would be an exciting venture. I did so because I was convicted from Scripture and history that it was the right thing to do. Trust me, you won’t make it through this process if you don’t have rock solid convictions. People will oppose this change, and you will only stick to your guns if you believe in what you’re trying to do. Here is a good resource to start thinking about this subject.
- Begin teaching your leaders about biblical membership. Start sharing your convictions with the leadership first. Don’t blindside them from the pulpit. Maybe you read the aforementioned book as a group or take them through this article. Make sure they know what you’re thinking before you go to the pulpit. This will do a few things-1) You will solidify what you believe by teaching it. 2) You will equip and prepare your leaders for what is coming. 3) They will help you see potential resistance. This last point is helpful because you can address these concerns from the pulpit.
- Preach on biblical membership. Before we considered a vote for a membership overhaul, I preached a four week series on the topic. You can’t expect people to follow your leadership if you don’t give them biblical reasons for what you’re doing. The Bible is your authority. Not tradition, opinion or “best practices.” You must prove from Scripture that membership is biblical and needed in your church. Check out this sermon.
- Offer informal classes immediately after the sermon. When I preached the series on membership, I requested that we suspend all Sunday School classes and invited everyone to our fellowship hall after service. This gave me the opportunity to speak more practically about the direction I was taking the church. It also provided the church a place to ask questions.
- Write up proposals, policies, and definitions for membership. I just looked back through my old documents (it’s been 10 years since I did this). I constructed a proposal that I presented to my leadership team and then congregation. I also drafted new definitions in the form of by-laws for membership. Finally, we sent letters to previous members informing them of the change. Whatever you decide to do, you need to make sure that everything is crystal clear and in writing.
- Take it to the church. Once you have done everything suggested above, and it has been approved by the leaders, take it to the church. Explain, once again, what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Then submit your change for a vote. But don’t piece meal the vote. Make it a simple yes or no. All in or all out. If you follow these simple instructions and bathe this entire process in prayer, I am confident you can make this much needed change.
I am praying for you and would love to hear how things are going in your ministry. Feel free to contact me with any further questions or just to say hello. Also, be sure to check out our resources at Knowing Jesus Ministries. We provide cohorts, coaching and consultations for pastors.