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A cure for deadwood


I stared at the membership brochure of the church where I was candidating, and blinked.

"You are invited to become a member of Covenant Baptist Church by sharing in our Covenant of Membership.

"Membership is for a calendar year, and each year we commit ourselves to God and to one another in this Covenant."

I had served for five years on the staff of a very large church where the membership could only be approximated. A decade could pass before we discovered someone was no longer attending, and the rolls frequently included names of persons who had died several years before. I was bothered to see new people join the church and immediately fade into inactive anonymity. While these cases were extreme, they illustrated the problems of "forever membership."

Now here was a congregation doing something distinctive. From its inception nine years before in a rapidly growing suburb of Phoenix, the charter members and the founding pastor, Fred Williamson, had tried new ideas. The ...

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