People have been asking me where we stand on the issue of baptism and church membership at Richmond’s First Baptist Church, a subject of frequent discussion on this blog (see “What’s the Big Deal?” “My Way vs. Your Way on the Way to Our Way,” “Provocative Questions,” “Not a Black Eye in the House,” and “If the Vote Were Taken Today“).
Here’s the answer:
After two “Holy Conversations” in October I promised that I would take this issue to our deacons and let them determine whether or not it needed to go on to the congregation for a vote. Since I was out of town for the Deacons’ meeting in November, I asked them not to discuss the issue, but to spend a month praying over it, asking the question: “While we will continue to make disciples as we always have, baptizing believers by immersion, is it possible God is leading us to change our membership requirements, to open the door of the church a little wider in order to welcome Christians from other denominations who have been discipled in other ways?” They did pray over it, and in December several of them stood and shared what they had heard from God. The minutes recorded that “several [deacons] noted that, after much prayer, their hearts had been softened regrding this issue.”
At the January meeting we discussed our membership requirements and decided it would be a good thing for all of our deacons—some 200 of them—to get in on the discussion. So we are looking for a good time and place to do that. I would guess that after we’ve had time to talk about it we would also want to give the congregation further opportunity for education and discussion. I don’t want anyone to feel that their concerns have gone unheard or that their questions have gone unanswered.
That’s where we are at this point. If you have questions or comments please feel free to click on the word “comments” below and weigh in. I want to hear from you.