Early Baptists Required Faithful Church Attendance
Republished February 4, 2010 (first published July 10, 2001) (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, email@example.com; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) -
Church members today often display an amazingly cavalier attitude toward church attendance. It is not uncommon for churches that run 200 in attendance on Sunday mornings to have only half of that number back on Sunday night and even fewer for the mid-week service. Church membership was treated much more seriously in Baptist churches four hundred years ago.
The following is from Adam Taylor’s The History of the English General Baptists [London: 1818], Volume I:
The general Baptists of the 16th and 17th centuries so respected the nature and importance of assemblies for public worship that the wilful neglect of them was considered as disorderly conduct, which called for the censure of the church. A constant inspection was exercised over the attendance of the members: persons were appointed to take down the names of the absentees, and report them to the elders; and nothing but reasons of obvious importance were admitted as a sufficient apology for their non-attendance.
In 1655, an “Order” was made, by the general consent of the congregation at Fenstanton, that “if any member of this congregation shall absent himself from the assembly of the same congregation, upon the first day of the week, without manifesting a sufficient cause, he shall be looked upon as an offender, and proceeded with accordingly. At the same meeting, it was devised, that, if any member should, at any time, have any extraordinary occasion to hinder him from the assembly, he would certify the congregation of the same before hand, for the prevention of jealousy.” And, in 1658, the same society, after considering the case of a wife who had been kept back, by the threatenings of her husband, concluded “that, unless a person was restrained by force, it was no excuse for absenting himself from the assemblies of the congregation.” Resolutions of a similar purport are frequent in the records of these churches: and numbers of cases prove that they were constantly enforced.
Distributed by Way of Life Literature's Fundamental Baptist Information Service, an e-mail listing for Fundamental Baptists and other fundamentalist, Bible-believing Christians. OUR GOAL IN THIS PARTICULAR ASPECT OF OUR MINISTRY IS NOT DEVOTIONAL BUT IS TO PROVIDE INFORMATION TO ASSIST PREACHERS IN THE PROTECTION OF THE CHURCHES IN THIS APOSTATE HOUR. This material is sent only to those who personally subscribe to the list. If somehow you have subscribed unintentionally, following are the instructions for removal. The Fundamental Baptist Information Service mailing list is automated. To SUBSCRIBE, go to http://www.wayoflife.org/wayoflife/subscribe.html . TO UNSUBSCRIBE OR CHANGE ADDRESSES, go to the very bottom of any email received from us and click "Manage My Subscription." If you have any trouble with this, please let us know. We take up a quarterly offering to fund this ministry, and those who use the materials are expected to participate (Galatians 6:6) if they can. Some of the articles are from O Timothy magazine, which is in its 27th year of publication. Way of Life publishes many helpful books. The catalog is located at the web site: http://www.wayoflife.org/publications/index.html. Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061. 866-295-4143, firstname.lastname@example.org. We do not solicit funds from those who do not agree with our preaching and who are not helped by these publications, but only from those who are. OFFERINGS can be made at http://www.wayoflife.org/wayoflife/makeanoffering.html. PAYPAL offerings can be made to https://www.paypal.com/xclick/business=dcloud%40wayoflife.org
WAY OF LIFE LITERATURE SHARING POLICY: Much of our material is available for free, such as the hundreds of articles at the Way of Life web site. Other items we sell to help fund our very expensive literature, video, and foreign church planting ministry. Way of Life’s content falls into two categories: sharable and non-sharable. Things that we encourage you to share include the audio sermons, video presentations, O Timothy magazine, and FBIS articles. You are free to make copies of these at your own expense and share them with friends and family. You are also welcome to use excerpts from the articles. All we ask is that you give proper credit. Things we do not want copied and distributed freely are items like the Fundamental Baptist Digital Library, print edition of our books, PDFs of the books, etc. These items have taken years to produce at enormous expense in time and money, and we need the income from the sale of these to help fund the ministry. We trust that your Christian honesty will preserve the integrity of this policy.