One of the most difficult things to do in a church that practices meaningful membership is the task of reaching out to church members who don’t want to be reached out to. Every church will have members who disappear from the fellowship without warning or explanation. Usually, those members are hard to get a face to face meeting with, and there is always a big question mark regarding how long is too long for a church member to be absent before the church starts to get really concerned about their spiritual state. I along with the elders at St. Rose Community Church wanted to take the guessing out of our process when a member disappears from our fellowship for an extended period of time and is hard to reach.
The following letter serves as a template for the kind of letter that we will send to non-attending church members when we have exhausted other avenues of communication. After six-months of non-attendance and many attempts at speaking face to face with an individual, we plan to send the following with some variations depending on the exact circumstances. Perhaps this example letter will help other church leaders trying to call non-attending members back into the fellowship of the church.
We at St. Rose Community Church love you and we miss the fellowship we once shared with you. As you know, we consider our commitment to one another as a church family to be a divine privilege and responsibility. We believe that a church is a community of mutually committed people devoted to each other and to the Lord. We all have signed a church covenant which summarizes the Bible’s teaching and outlines our commitment to each other.
We as a church have embraced a policy that after six months of non-attendance or involvement with our church, we will send this letter to the non-attending member. We would love for you to come back to our fellowship. If you will not return to our church, and there is not some other kind of unrepentant sin or unresolved conflict keeping you from the fellowship, we urge you to join another church fellowship who teaches the Bible and who will love you and fulfill Christ’s ministry with you. See Good and Bad Reasons for Moving Churches.
Of course, we would love to talk in person about all of this. Perhaps you are in the process of joining another church or perhaps there are circumstances in your life that we are totally unaware of and we want to be there for you. Please reach out to one of the pastors or a church member that you are close with. At our next scheduled member meeting, we will encourage our church family to pray for you, reach out to you, and invite you back into our fellowship. If we do not hear from you or see you before the following member meeting, however, we will make a motion to remove you from our church’s membership. This does not mean that you cannot return to our church at a later date, but it does mean that you would need to rejoin our fellowship before participating in member meetings, partaking in the Lord’s Supper, or serving in any official capacity.
Prolonged and perpetual non-attendance is a sin before the Lord. He made you to be a meaningful member of a local church: the body of Christ, the family of God the Father, and temple of God’s Spirit. “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25). For more on why non-attendance is a sin see “Should Non-attenders be Removed from Church Membership?”
We pray that you read this letter with the same generous and gracious tone with which it was written, and that you will not take offense at our attempts to call you back to fellowship with us. Our aim is to speak the truth in love that every part of the body of Christ might be built up (Ephesians 4:15-16).
By his Grace and For His Glory,
The elders and members of St. Rose Community Church