I know there are all kinds of folks on BYC, so I'm hoping to get some input from those who are American Baptist Church members. And I really, really hope this can be done without getting this conversation locked, because I need some outside opinions & information on how other churches handle this, for an upcoming meeting. I'm a church secretary for an ABC, and the pastor retired this past January. We hired a part-time pastor in Oct. He is not Baptist, but comes from a Community Christian Church - type background. So, he wants to change how membership is handled. Right now, (and tell me if your church is different, please) we do what most AB churches do - you become a member by coming forward during Sunday morning's Invitation and asking to be a member through: 1. Baptism, 2. Transferring Letter, or 3. Statement of Faith (if you've already been baptized by immersion). And far and away, about 80% become members by baptism. The change is *targetting* those who live together, but are not married. What he would like to do, is go ahead and baptize them, but then they are "candidates for membership" and basically, if they don't clean up their act (live apart) they can't be members. So we'd be baptizing folks but they wouldn't be added to the membership roll unless/until the deacons/pastor deems it ok. I know there is precident for members being excluded for living together. (Say Bobby became a member by baptism at age 12, and moved in with partner at age 24) but what provisions are there for someone wanting to be a member, but planning on still living together and not marrying? How does your congregation handle this??