Sam Rainer on Regenerate Church Membership

A couple of months ago, Sam Rainer shared the story of how his church is pursuing integrity in church membership.  While referring to the massive disparity between membership statistics and church attendance in the SBC at large, Rainer shared the following:

Our church is no different. In fact, we are one of the worst offenders. Our membership was inflated by a factor of 6 when compared with average attendance. We had 11 (yes, that’s eleven) categories of members, including the following: inactive possible, inactive likely, inactive unlikely, non-resident unknown, non-resident known. . . . While God has provided growth to our church and the membership gap has closed some, the spread between “member” and “active churchgoer” remains large. Needless to say, we decided to do a little spring cleaning this year. We’re still working through the process, but I’ll share some tips that worked in my church in restoring integrity to membership.

In his article, he provides eight tips they have developed in the process of starting their “spring cleaning”.  They are:

1. Love the people.
2. Start a new members’ class.
3. Follow-up is critical.
4. Clean the rolls in stages.
5. Enlist key members in the church.
6. Challenge Sunday School/small groups/connect groups to help in the process.
7. Take it slow: Without sounding redundant – TAKE IT SLOW!
8. Parallel an outwardly-focused missions strategy with the process of cleaning the rolls.

You can read the entire article by going here.

Explore posts in the same categories: Church Membership, Excerpts, SBC

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8 Comments on “Sam Rainer on Regenerate Church Membership”

  1. Keith Says:

    Tim: I hate to hijack your post, but I need some information. I am the website admin at Bethel Baptist in Owasso and I have some questions for you. Could you email me ASAP? Thanks.

    keithwhitfield [at]

  2. John Says:

    I hope the resolution makes a difference, but I’m skeptical.

  3. Steve Says:

    >8. Parallel an outwardly-focused missions strategy with the process of cleaning the >rolls.

    And the reason for having a parallel outwardly focused missions strategy while cleaning the church rolls???


  4. Chris Says:

    The reason for having a parallel, outwardly focused missions strategy whil cleaning the church rolls? How about The Great Commission?

    A pastor cannot ignore is calling to do the work of an evangelist (by proclaiming the gospel and training others to do the same) while cleaning the rolls. To ignore the missions strategy would mean that forty years from now, we could very well be passing another resolution repenting of our failure to do evangelism. Sam, who has studied a great deal of growing and dying churches knows that once a church becomes obsessively inwardly focused, it is VERY difficult to get them to focus on the lost ever again. I believe Sam is right about the missions focus. God would have us focus on good ecclesiology to his glory. Good ecclesiology requires regenerate church membership, church discipline, and obedience to the Great Commission. You can’t have a good ecclesiology if you ignore the clear commands of Christ for his church, which is to make disciples.

    Chris Bonts

  5. Chris Says:

    By the way, alot has changed at our church since you visited (for the psoitive). If you get some time, swing by our website ( I would love to get some feedback from you.


  6. Keith,

    Sorry for not checking this last night. I will email you in just a moment.


    Your skepticism is perhaps warranted, but on this issue, my hope leads me to believe the best for our churches. If the result is being played the fool, then I think it still would have been an endeavor worthy of my best efforts and highest hopes. 🙂


    I think that both the outward focus of missions and inward focus of member care have gospel-centered emphasis. In a sense, both are not believing Christ and repenting of their sin. That is not to say that church attenders are doing this by mere involvement in the church, but it is to say that obedience to Christ commands cannot take place apart from meaningful existence in the local church. The congregation takes responsibility for gospel ministry, and that gospel ministry looks in to the spiritual well-being of her members and looks out to those strangers to the love of God in Christ. While I am not sure how Sam would answer your question, I would say that the outward focus of missions is a way for the church to channel her efforts in gospel ministry that is balanced (both in and out) and biblical.


    Thanks. I will check it out.

  7. Sam Rainer Says:

    Steve – both Chris and Timmy articulate well where I stand. My goal as a pastor is to have a healthy inward body that is passionate about an outward call to a lost community and world.

  8. Timmy,

    Thank you for this post and the link to the Rainer post/blog. Very helpful.

    Hope to see you at the Founders next week in Green County!


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