Accepting Members From Area Churches

It’s our policy to not accept members from other churches in the area as members of our church, regardless of whether they’re saved or not. Some Shepherds have asked me to make exceptions to this policy. Their reasons vary, but the most common ones are that they’re not yet saved or they haven’t gone to church for a long time.

Let me post portions of an email response I sent to a Shepherd who made such a request to explain the policy; hopefully I won’t get any more requests.

“We sometimes accept people who have been members of an area church if they haven’t gone to their church for over 2 years and one spouse is not saved. But this is an exception. In general, we don’t accept former members of area churches regardless of whether they’re saved or not.

Some people scoff at this. Many seem to think that it’s our official policy but that in practice, we steal members from other churches. If we make exceptions to the policy, these people will feel that their suspicions are justified.

We are strongly against ‘sheep stealing.’ We can’t do the exact thing we’re against and disappoint people who look up to our church and expect it to help correct unhealthy church practices.

Most megachurches become big by attracting members from other area churches. Their motivations at the beginning are usually not simply wanting to be big. They start accepting members from other churches because they’re unsaved, because they’re not involved in church ministries, or because they haven’t attended church for a long time. They feel that these people have a better chance of becoming true Christians or faithful workers at their churches. Their motives re good, but in the end, they’re just big churches continually boosting their numbers. Most of their energy is spent meeting their members’ needs and they have few resources left to evangelize, contributing nothing to the expansion of the kingdom of God.

If our church were the only Korean-American church in Houston, we wouldn’t deny membership to other Christians. But there are 40 to 50 Korean-American churches in the area. If your friend wants to leave their church, don’t invite them to ours, but guide them to other area churches. Do this even if you feel that they’re not truly saved. It’s the height of arrogance to believe that people can be saved only at our church.

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