How to Write a Letter to Church Members Purging Membership Rolls
29 SEP 2017
A church may decide to purge its membership rolls for many reasons which may cause its rolls to reflect inaccurate membership numbers or constituency. Membership rolls may be populated by members who no longer attend the church, have moved to another church, have died, or who have made an active or passive decision to remove themselves from church membership. In most cases, writing a letter (or several form letters, to accommodate a variety of situations) is the simplest way to inform members of their removal from the membership rolls.
List the reasons your church will be removing members from its rolls. You will need a different letter for each removal reason, to notify different members of the specific reason they are being removed from the rolls. In some circumstances, you will need a church motion passed on the specific reasons for removal. For example, not all churches will want to remove members who have fallen away from the faith; others will only want to remove members who have died or moved away from the area. Once you have a list, you can effectively write your letters.
Some recommend dividing your list into categories, and proceeding very slowly, according to least controversial category, in purging the membership list. Begin with members who have moved or died; and only once you are extremely settled in the church and significant time has passed, remove members who are no longer living in accordance with the church's doctrine.
Gather the necessary contact information for each member. This may be a challenging process, especially for members who have relocated. Resources include Internet searches, asking other members who may still be in contact with the person, and contacting family members. Try using email to contact the member in person; these often remain the same even if other contact information, like phone numbers and physical addresses, changes.
Draft the form letter. Address it to the person who is being purged from the membership roll; if multiple family members are being removed, address each person by name so the intent is clear. Express your regret at having to take action, then explain why the action is being taken. If a church bylaw was made or measure passed in order to remove the person from the membership roll, indicate this in the letter so they understand the action is not being taken lightly (for example, "The board of deacons has ruled that anyone who has not attended the church in over three years should be removed from the rolls"). Provide a means of follow up, like the pastor or secretary's number, if the person has any questions, and, if applicable, the steps they may take to keep from being removed. Conclude with an expression of the church's affection.