Friday, October 30, 2009

The Heart of Biblical Restoration Displayed in Song

Having now passed our church covenant and then our constitution & bylaws, in January we embark upon a massive enterprise to reach out to every member family of FBC Farmersville. Like most SBC churches, we have a number of members on the roll of the church who are either not very active in the life of the church or not active at all.

The easiest thing to do, of course, would be nothing at all—to ignore those folks and focus our energies upon the people who are active in the congregation as well as new prospects. The second easiest thing to do would be to conduct a massive purging of the congregational rolls, giving a few seconds of attention to each of these wayward members before returning our attention once again to our active members and prospects.

However, a few words from 1 Corinthians haunt me enough to drive us to a different course. In chapter 5, discussing the man having an illicit affair with his step-mother, Paul castigated not the sinner but the church, saying, "you have become arrogant and have not mourned instead."

Clean rolls can be accomplished without any correction of congregational arrogance. God calls us to congregational mourning over the sinful lifestyles of wayward members. Mournfully we hope to go out after those who have fallen by the wayside.

The lyrical nuances of this song will likely drive some of you crazy, but I hope that you'll permit me a musical flashback to my college days. The general emotional feel of this song represents a sentiment under-articulated in Christian music produced during my lifetime—biblical mourning over the backslidden and an accompanying longing for restoration. Enjoy…or rather…don't enjoy. Mourn.


volfan007 said...


I've never heard this song by Michael W. Smith before. Great song with a great message. Thanks for sharing this. I'm gonna post it on my FB.


Les Puryear said...


I am reminded of what Dr. Malcolm McDow said to us preacher boys in Church Growth Evangelism class. He said, "If you spend your time trying to get those on the roll who don't attend to come back to church, you're wasting your time. 95% of them will never return."

Here's hoping you get more than 5%.


Steve Young said...

I have heard similar statements as well, and have made them, too. It may have been Henry Blackaby who helped give a different perspective. He reminded that it was God who built the church. He gives the bidy the parts (members) He wants. We do not have the right to treat their spiritual apaty so lightly.
Of course, maybe instead of just trying to get them to come back, we may need to identify them as evangelistic prospects.
Steve in Montana

Bart Barber said...


I'm glad to have introduced you to something new, brother!

Bart Barber said...

Les & Steve,

Here are my thoughts on the matter:

1. I'm betting that McDow is correct insofar as he is indicating a higher percentage of "success" in dealing with prospects in your church who have come to your church looking and expectant.

2. The success rate of cold evangelism is not much better than 95/5, so we're accustomed to long odds, aren't we?

3. Most importantly, and as Steve has somewhat already said, the driving force for me here is not come calculated pragmatism looking at how to boost my numbers. Rather, what motivates me is the idea that I have a pastoral obligation to those who are members of this congregation, and that the Bible indicates that I will give an account to God for what I have done pastorally in their lives.

4. Whatever percentage we eventually identify as people for whom we lack any confidence that they are believers or that they are coming back, then we'll remove any such person from our rolls. It is possible that we would have to do that with a large number of people, but I would never do so blithely. This is a sober, mournful matter, and that, I suppose, is the major point of the entire post.

Tim G said...

Here's a thought:

Always better to be Biblically right in our ministry efforts than mathematically directed/prioritized. God seems to make things equal out far much better!