Removal from Membership in Bylaws

Hand in garden glove weeding.

Congregations want to keep their membership rolls current and accurate since the number impact quorum, budgeting and staffing levels.

Bylaws should include two different provisions for removing people from membership. One is for people who have drifted away. The other is for removing a member for cause.

Removing Inactive Members

Members become inactive for many reasons, and the due diligence in discovering the reason and acting upon it can vary.

  • Any member should be able to resign upon request. Board policies on removal from membership can determine whether the request needs to be written or verbal with a certain number of witnesses.

  • Any member who has died should be removed automatically.

  • If a member has moved away without resigning, has not contributed financially and/or is not participating in church activities, there should be a provision for removal after the process outlined in the board policy on inactive members has been followed.

Removing Destructive Members

Some members may prove to be a risk to the health, safety or well-being of others in the congregation. Also, the open and inclusive nature of congregational polity can be exploited or compromised by someone who breaks the mutuality and consent of covenant. It is essential for the congregation to have a Destructive Behavior Policy that describes harmful behaviors and outlines a clear process for addressing the behavior that includes a range of appropriate responses up to and including removing someone from membership.

Sample Provisions

  • A member's name shall be removed from the Membership Roll in case of: (1) the member's death; (2) written request by the member; (3) a period of inactivity (as defined in the board policy) of over (period of time), pending a vote by the Board; or (4) removal by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the Board for actions that threaten the well-being of the Congregation per the Destructive Behavior Policy.
  • Membership shall be reviewed at least annually. Members who have requested resignation or have died shall be removed immediately. Members who do not respond to inquiries (as defined in the board policy) shall be removed after a period of one year. Members may be removed for cause by a vote of the board per the Destructive Behavior Policy.