Nathan A. Finn’s chapter entitled, “A Historical Analysis of Church Membership” in the book Those Who Must Give an Account, recounts the history from the earliest days of the church through the modern variations. Some interesting notes in that chapter are:
But the final death blow to patristic catechetical practices with the ascendancy of infant baptism. Although the earliest Christians apparently practice confess her baptism by immersion, by the fifth century infant baptism had emerged as the preferred a dismal practice for most churches. Is infant baptism became increasingly popular, less emphasis was placed on teaching adult converts prior to baptism. Instead, catechesis became focused on instructing children who have been baptized in infancy and were preparing for confirmation and to full membership.
Concerning the mass conversion of the Germanic Tribes;
In many cases the only requirement was a verbal pronunciation of the pagan gods and a willingness to be baptized. This raises concerns about the validity of these conversions, and many Christians argue that Western Europe especially was officially Christian but functionally pagan.
Concerning politics and baptism:
Christiandom and paedobaptism presoak closely intertwined that by the second millennium of Christian history, baptism had almost universally become a marker of both church membership and citizenship. For this reason, pronouncing infant baptism was tantamount renouncing citizenship, and requiring confess her baptism of a previously paedobaptized individual was a capital offense in most of Western Europe.
Among evangelicals the emphasis on the new birth continues to the present day. Many evangelicals also continue to emphasize the importance of revival in spiritual awakening. Since at least the time of the Second Great Awakening, many evangelicals have so emphasized a revival-style conversion experience that this idea has dominated their approach to evangelism and church membership technique and methodology became arguably as important as the gospel message itself, in practice if not in principle. Furthermore the gospel message itself underwent some tweaking in the years between Jonathan Edwards and D. L. Moody is less emphasis was given to sin and hell and more was given to the benefits of eternal life in heaven and evangelism and preaching.
I highlight the final, and concerning revivalism [oddly, the software rendered “revivalism” to “evil robot is some”] in the evangelical church, because some scholars of biblical counseling, such as Dr. Street, believe that the emotional emphases of revivalism contributed to the decline of pastoral counseling in the North American and English churches.
The book Those Who Must Give an Account, provides a remarkably their role analysis of church membership and church discipline. While the book rights from a decidedly Baptist perspective, the Baptist elements are not so pronounced as to render the book unfit for the Presbyterian or Methodist Christian.