Reduce apportionments by reducing rolls? Think again

By Bob Bostick

Do you remember our annual conference priority statement? Here's a hint: "By All Means, Win Some!" Remember?

Well folks, some are taking that Biblical thought of Paul very seriously, and they are conscientiously fulfilling it. However, others seem to be more intent on getting rid of at least a few. Let me explain.

For the past six years, Maryville District has experienced a consistent increase in membership. As a matter of fact, we have grown from 12,643 members in 1995 to 13,089 members in 2001. This is an increase of 446 members. On behalf of those families where parents as well as children, youth, and adults have professed a vital faith in Jesus Christ and joined one of our churches, let me thank you for your efforts in reaching out to them. There are also those who transferred their memberships into our community, thus enriching our church families.

What concerns me, however, is that during these last six years, our congregations have removed 784 members by charge conference action or by members withdrawing their own memberships rather than joining other congregations. We have some congregations who feel that inactive members who rarely, if ever, darken the church doors unfairly increase their "Fair Share" apportionments. So, they take them off the rolls. Why? To them, the answer is simple: to save money!

I told one charge conference that was proposing to remove about 25 percent of its members (they thought it would save 25 percent of Fair Share), "If you remove every member and reduce your membership to zero, you will only reduce your apportionment by 25 percent." They forgot that their total giving to support their church program accounts for 75 percent of the apportionment.

If we honestly believe that our purpose as a church is to "By All Means, Win Some," then we cannot take anyone's name off the roll without prayerfully reaching out to win that inactive member to a new and vital love for Jesus Christ and the church. We should never, ever, slough off our responsibility to keep winning some who need more attention than others.

I'm so grateful others cared for me!

The Rev. Bostick retired at Annual Conference 2002 after six years of serving as Maryville District superintendent. Commentary reprinted with permission.


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