Revise Church Membership Roll : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

When is the AME Church going to review and revise the Church membership roll. We do not want to be like the Baptist, end up in court and tell the world that we really do not have 5,000,000 members in the Connection but some hundreds of thousands. Should'nt the Budget be adjusted according to the REAL membership roll. Are we going to live a lie till Jesus comes and put all this financial burden on people who really could be contributing their finances to sincere causes of Jesus Christ.

-- Anonymous, August 17, 2000


I am making an assumption, but I am assuming that the numbers compiled by every church at every annual conference are then passed on to the general conference and then they are used when the financial responsibilities are given out for the contributions of each district towards the budget?

-- Anonymous, August 18, 2000

WHat has skewed the data in the past has ben the number of "frozen ropes", or memberships that report no change for several years running. If this data is inflated - as I suspect it is, given that dollars are either static or declining in many cases - it places us in the similar collective position.

Perhaps we should examine the causes that drive pastors to report "actuals" that are more often than not "goals".

-- Anonymous, August 18, 2000

The issue about an accurate count of membership is essential since it indeed impacts on planning budgets. I applaud James and all the respondents for addressing our current conundrum about "inflated" membership rolls. The problem is simply that membership is not contingent on anything other than who recieves the "right hand of Fellowship". After new member training you're "in". This measure of membership is terribly unreliable since folks can be on the "roll" without exhibiting any committment of time, talent & treasure. What I propos is for churches to simply count the number of parishoners every Sunday and adjusting for visitors and members attending 8:00AM & 11:00AM services, use a monthy average for those 4-5 Sundays. This method would allow for realistic budget planning based on low, medium or high forecasts of "real" members as oppossed to those phantom members who we see once a Qtr or less.

-- Anonymous, August 18, 2000

I must agree with some of above statements. May I provide some insight into the matter. I speak only for the churches in the Central Arkansas Conference of the 12th District. The main problem lies within the 18-30 yr age group. Many of us leave our home churches, join or just fellowship with others and never or in some cases rarely return yet our names are not removed from any church role. The church must function as a corportation to remain competitive with other highly organized Christian sects. When we budget based on who is and is not there, we run the risk of causing desertion and of course financial disparity. There is no set way to solve this problem because in smaller churches with only 5 -10 members, the budget will always be too much to fill. A proper analysis of the matter is to have an accurate numerical contention for all districts to follow by. This must also be in consideration of the smaller & economucally strained districts. That would help. We must also consider that the connection as a whole is a corporation and each entity within the corporation contributes either to it's success or demise.

-- Anonymous, August 18, 2000

There is a further consideration besides the departure of 18-30 year olds. There is also the issue of the ordination of an itinerate. They are no longer members of a local church, but I have never seen a membership role adjusted after a minister leaves the ranks of local liscentuate and enters the itineracy. How many people does that account for over the years? I am all for the accurate assestment of membership. Active members should be present and contributing, or infirmed. Inactive members should be wooed and invited, or dropped according to the guidelines in the discipline. Members who join other churches should be dropped. This would go a long way to making our numbers accurate.

-- Anonymous, August 22, 2000

My local church has been battling this very problem for 8 years now. Our last pastor swelled our membership by over 300 people to claim to have a big congregation. Now 200 of us have been paying the price of high bills, high budgets, and assesments. He has since been relocated and our presiding elder told us, that we CANNOT purge our membership roll. It is unfair that 200 hard working people have to hold the burden for a 650 membership roll.

-- Anonymous, October 23, 2000

Per discipline the stewards are supposed to conduct an audit for the 4th Quaterly conference to keep an accurate count of the membership prior to your annual conference.

-- Anonymous, October 24, 2000

As the end of each Conference year draws near, I review our membership roster with our Steward Board. We make a list of those persons whom we have not seen during the course of the conference year. An effort is then made to contact these persons. If we are unable to contact them (no phone or the address is no longer correct) then they are dropped and recorded as "left with no certificate". If we are able to make contact and they inform us that they have either joined another denomination or church or they are no longer interested in membership, they are also dropped. If after making contact, the individual expresses a desire to remain a member, they are advised that we would be happy to keep them as a part of the family but that membership has responsibilities. They are told lovingly that if, during the course of the new year, they do not demonstate some renewed level of commitment to the church by way of their attendance and financial support of the work of the church then they will be dropped this time next year without further comment or question. The Discipline states that to be a member in good and regular standing in our Zion, one must regularly attend worship and contribute finacially in support of the work of the Church. I for one, have absolutely no interest in reporting inflated numbers to the conference. It is a matter of integrity to me. My Stewards are very supportive of this annual effort. Our Presiding Elders are also very supportive. In fact, at a meeting last year,they strongly encouraged pastors to review our membership rolls and purge them where necessary

-- Anonymous, October 25, 2000

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