How churches can avoid three ‘dangerous assumptions’
    October 20 2015 by Brian K. Davis, Guest Column

    Many church leaders began to ask questions after the June 26 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to make same-sex marriage a constitutionally protected right. While it remains to be seen how these issues will affect churches in the long term, the immediate need is for churches to establish appropriate policies clarifying their position on marriage and their expectations regarding the use of facilities. These topics and more have been addressed in previous Biblical Recorder columns and blog posts on the Christian Life and Public Affairs Special Committee website ( I hope you will revisit those articles as your congregation approaches these matters.
    In this final article, I focus on the final phrase of 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (KJV). Our Lord has given us a sound mind that, when informed and shaped by scripture, can help us respond appropriately to current challenges regarding sexuality.
    As noted in previous articles, the immediate need for many churches is the establishment of policies.
    Churches are discouraged from making bylaw amendments but encouraged to strive to keep these matters within policies documents. There is, however, a long-term issue that may require amendments to a church’s bylaws or constitution, depending how the church is organized.
    Many churches cooperating with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) have membership statements that provide four avenues for individuals to become members of the congregation. The first avenue is through profession of faith resulting in baptism by immersion. Many churches have beautiful statements regarding the expectation that new converts confess sin, repent from sin and give evidence of a life transformed by the gospel.
    Others include statements expressing sentiments in scripture regarding putting to death the old life and being clothed in righteousness. Again, these are beautiful statements that churches take seriously.
    The problem is the remaining three avenues into church membership. While reviewing a church’s avenues for membership, I often find the phrase, “or by baptism” followed by “or by transfer of letter” concluding with “or by statement.”
    It’s easy to assume “or” equals “and.” Meaning, many believe anyone seeking to enter a church’s membership by baptism, transfer of letter or statement has given evidence of a life transformed by the gospel. That is a dangerous assumption.
    As a result, the number of unregenerate members in our churches has grown because of such thinking. It’s time to stop making assumptions and employ the sound mind that God has granted each of us to engage in disciple-making with an intentionality that has been lacking in recent years.
    The problem entails not only how individuals join the church, but what happens once they become members. Does your congregation have an intentional plan to disciple each member of the church?
    Certainly we give attention to discipling new members, but all too often we assume current members are growing as disciples. Too many church leaders assume discipleship is taking place in Sunday School, small groups or within families at home. We even assume discipleship is taking place through the pulpit ministry. Again, it’s time to stop making such assumptions and to intentionally develop strategies and employ models of discipleship that engage each and every member of the congregation.
    Consider this example: A young boy or girl grows up in the congregation, professes faith in Christ, participates in all of the ministries and programs of the church, graduates high school and goes away to college. Upon graduation he or she returns home, but with very different views of sexuality than before. How does the church respond?
    For the church that is intentionally engaging each and every member of the congregation in a discipleship process, providing numerous opportunities for members to be discipled and facilitating relationships for one-on-one discipleship to occur, this scenario should result in this young college graduate re-entering a discipleship effort where other disciples help them discover where the gaps are in their understanding of sexuality.
    Many young people have not been sufficiently discipled to understand biblical expectations for sexuality, much less understanding how to apply these truths to each and every relationship in life. God has created them for more than what they’re currently experiencing.
    To help a young person wrestling with these truths requires patience, love and clear teaching from God’s Word. Our disciple-making must not be focused merely on sexuality, but neither can our efforts shy away from sexuality. Our efforts to make disciples and grow disciples must be intentional throughout the entire congregation.
    I continue to grow in my relationship with Christ and thank God for those that continue to disciple me. Issues that I struggled with 20 years ago are no longer an issue for me, but those have been replaced with new struggles.
    I am told by those that are my senior, that another group of struggles await me as I grow older; so I depend on those who are older and wiser to help prepare me for what’s to come. In every stage of life we need someone to disciple us, and we need to be discipling others.
    Please do not hesitate to contact your BSC staff as you seek help in developing strategies and employing new models and methods in your congregation’s disciple-making efforts.
    (EDITOR’S NOTE – Brian K. Davis is associate executive director-treasurer at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.)

    Related Stories:
    Churches should not fear court action
    Facing legal action, churches have a ‘spirit of power’
    BSC offers resources for wedding, facility policies
    Make church policies clear, complementary, loving
    Proclaiming the fullness of God’s love

    10/20/2015 12:08:58 PM by Brian K. Davis, Guest Column | with 0 comments
    Filed under: BSC, church policies, same-sex marriage

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