Bailey Smith - Why Churches Are Dying.

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Maverick, Apr 14, 2002.

  1. Maverick

    Maverick
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    WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)--By some accounts, three-quarters of Southern Baptist churches are static or declining in
    membership, a fact that makes evangelist Bailey Smith wonder if God has not removed his hand from many of the
    convention's churches.

    "I've heard, 'People just don't go to church anymore,'" Smith said. "That's because they don't hear what they used to hear."

    Smith, a longtime evangelist and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, told students at Southeastern Baptist
    Theological Seminary on April 10 that when churches put their own priorities in front of God's agenda of reaching the lost,
    church death will eventually follow.

    "Even a lost, decadent world knows what the church ought to preach," Smith said. "The churches of America today have
    made the decision to have something other than God."

    Preaching from Joshua 7:10-13 -- the account of God's warning to Israel of "accursed things" among them -- Smith pointed
    to several examples of how modern churches have put their own priorities before God.

    The first thing, Smith said, is that many churches place their possessions over God's presence. He called the unseemly focus
    on things -- whether ornamental tables, lush carpeting or luxurious fixtures -- a "silliness" that displaces God's agenda of
    reaching the lost as the central focus of the church.

    "The most important thing is the message that only Jesus can get you to heaven," Smith said.

    The second bad decision many churches have made, he said, is to put their own prominence over God's power. Many
    churches and pastors are so worried about being influential in the community that they forget about the forgotten, the sinners
    to whom Christ called the church to minister.

    Thirdly, Smith said churches have placed their people over God's promises. Churches are guilty, he said, of honoring the
    "good ol' boy network" rather than honoring the Word of God and calling their members to live holy and righteous lives.

    Lastly, Smith said modern churches have put their own peace over God's purpose. An example, he said, is churches may
    emphasize the importance of fellowship and comfort while ignoring difficult tasks involved in serving the community and in
    evangelism.

    "Sometimes the worst thing that can happen at your church is a good fellowship," he said.

    Smith pointed to several biblical examples -- the three men in the fiery furnace, Paul in prison, Stephen being stoned to death
    -- of those who were not comfortably fellowshipping but were right in the middle of God's will.

    "Churches have to be willing to be inconvenienced for the sake of the Gospel," Smith said.

    -------
    And all the people must say Amen and O Me!
     
  2. Kiffin

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    I appreciate Smith's concern but I think the problem is more serious. According to a 1997 Sunday School survey only about 33% of Southern Baptists even go to Church and just 12% of Southern Baptists attend more than 1 service a week. That speaks of a deeper problem which has at it's core a weak Gospel based on Decisionist theology it's departure from it's Calvinist foundation to embracing Pelagian type theology that has ravaged the SBC.

    Another article on the same subject is "Southern Baptists, an Unregenerate Denomination" Dr. Jim Eliff at http://www.ccwonline.org/sbc.html

    [ April 14, 2002, 08:20 AM: Message edited by: Kiffin ]
     
  3. redwhitenblue

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    the "good ol boy" network? what's that supposed to mean? Just curious.

    karen
     
  4. Maverick

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    Hyper-Calvinism will kill a church quicker than anything. I call myself a Calamin. The problem is not "decisionist" but rather having the decisions come too quickly. Most people do not truly understand the concept of being lost and you cannot get them saved before you get them lost. We tell them God has a wonderful plan for your life before they understand that they are condemned folks on the way to Hell. Then we do not disciple them so they know a lot of about salvation and little else so they have no drive or understanding of why they were called unto.

    Now, the good ol' boy system works in that unless you are part of the network, you do not get to know about church openings, you are not invited to the right meetings to meet the right people to set you up for the right position within the association or the convention. The ones in that network are the ones that graudated from the "right" schools and have the right letters after their name. The average trench preacher doesn't fit into that club. It is a lot of who you know rather than what you know and that translates to who you know in the organization rather than knowing Jesus per se. Everything is run like a business and men are chosen by business career criteria not by calling.
     
  5. Kiffin

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    I agree that "Hyper-Calvinism" will kill a Church but that is a differant bird from Calvinism which is what the SBC was built upon until it's dive into Neo Pelagian theology that emphasizes man centered theology and worship.

    I think Smith unlike Eliff is looking at the branches rather than the root problem. Smith himself has attacked Calvinism in the past and has failed to realize that it is people like himself that left the Historic faith that the SBC was built on. The root problem is the SBC is a denomination of predominately unconverted people. When only 33% of Southern Baptists attend Church it shows that a defective Gospel has been preached and you cannot build a Church made up of unconverted people.
     
  6. Monergist

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    Amen and Amen. :D
     
  7. redwhitenblue

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    Ok, I'm still confused about the "good ol' boy system", could someone please explain a bit more in detail? Thanks

    karen
     
  8. Chris Temple

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    Amen and Amen. :D </font>[/QUOTE]Amen, Amen AND Amen! ;)

    What Smith fails to see - with his finneyan altar calls, decisional regeneration and anti-calvinism - is that he's part of the problem, and not part of the solution.
     
  9. Chris Temple

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    There is no such animal. James White showed that easily in The Potter's Freedom as he took apart Norman Geisler's argument. There is biblical Calvinism, and then everything else.
    "Decisionalism" - that errant theology which believes one can come to Christ on their own whenever they decide to - is the root problem. What is a decision done to quickly? At the right time all the Father gives to Christ will come to him. The problem is bad theology which calls for a "persoanl decision" to be saved, without understanding what that "decision" entails in all its implications.
     
  10. hrhema

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    I think there are a lot more issues involved in why Churches are dying then are being addressed.

    Why are only 33% of SBC people coming to church?
    One of the reasons is that we have gotten away from preaching the word of God and are holding lectures or Bible studies week after week after week. They are fruitless and powerless and do not reach the lost. We have traded away services on Sunday night for seminars that are powerless and fruitless instead of having evangelistic services and the excuse that is given is that people won't come on Sunday nights anymore but would rather be at home in front of the Boob Tube.

    Why would people not want to come on Sunday nights. Maybe the music ministry is dead and the messages are lifeless so people find better things to do with their time.

    Other churches try to entertain their people so they come up with social events and country club religion.

    The prayer rooms are empty. No one has time.
    Not many believe in pushing the plate away and fasting.

    When an altar call is given the people sit there stone faced with absolutely no burden for the lost. The special singer gets up and sings but the song is not riveting and powerful but lifeless and entertaining. The preacher pitches a plea but his message was not soul stirring.

    We also have become so afraid of offending sinners that we no longer preach against sin.
    We don't want to offend them so we don't preach on Hell, Fire and Brimstone but preach this namby pamby message that God loves you and ignore that God has a judgement, angry, side about him. Forgetting that it is written that the Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
     
  11. redwhitenblue

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    Actually I've been in a few of those particular kind of churches being described above as a "good service" and those churches crashed and burned the fastest.

    I personally can't stand Sunday night services and wouldn't go even if our church held them. I remember being forced to go as a kid and I always dreded it.

    Sure preaching the word of God and calling sin sin is very vital, however a pastor who sweats bullets behind the pulpit cause he's screaming so much just doesn't appeal to my heart or my conscience but makes me want to get out of the building as soon as possible and frankly gives me a headache. I suppose everyone has their own choice of the type of preaching they like, mine happens to be a soft spoken, humorous pastor who is great at teaching and getting a bibical point across as well as great at getting the message of the cross to the lost. I believe that no matter if the pastor is preaching on God's love and mercy or the judgement and wrath of God, if the truth of scriptures is given and the blood saving power message is expressed then the rest is up to God and the sinner listening.

    I really don't believe that any churches methods of serving, teaching, preaching, singing or otherwise has anything to do with if it's dying or not. I believe the death in most churches is caused by the hearts and attitudes of those in leadership and membership. When bitterness, pride, selfish motives and other things step into place you will have a church falling and crumbling. Each church has a different method of getting the word across which may not appeal to everyone's taste, but that really has zip to do with the division.

    karen
     
  12. hrhema

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    As far as these things not causing our churches to die out let us look at the ministry of Jesus.

    I think a lot of church goers would get offended at the true Jesus.

    Jesus was a man's man. A carpenter. He was not the sissified individual that a lot of people make him out to be or that painters painted him to be or that Hollywood portrayed him to be.
    Yes at times he was mild and even meek but Jesus was a Hell, Fire and Brimstone preacher.
    He spoke of Hell more than any other writer in the Bible. Not only that he took a whip twice in his lifetime and drove the money exchangers out of the temple. He was loud when he denounced the Pharisees and called them Hypocrites. Whited sepulchures full of dead men's bones. He called sinners to repentance and yes he did stop the stoning of the adultress but he admonished her to go and sin no more. He did not sweep sin under the carpet but he thundered against it. He was compassionate when that was necessary but he also was a fiery orator who incited the people.

    People want to sit in churches and listen to mild mannered preachers who tickle their ears.
    and make them feel good while they go one living in sin and not living a Christian life.
    They want some preacher to tell jokes and be funny when souls are dying daily and going to Hell. No it doesn't take a loud man to bring souls to the altar but it takes someone who mirrors Jesus' ministry. One who knows how to be compassionate and caring. Meek and mild and gentle but can also be boistrous and loud and angry at sin and hypocrisy.

    Why do we think John the Baptist was beheaded. He offended a queen in her sinful life.
    He insulted this audience by calling them to repentance and as Jesus did called the religious names like brood of vipers etc. He did not do this quietly and with humor.

    The Apostles Paul and Peter both were strong men and loud. In Peter's books he wrote he called people Wandering Stars. Brute beasts. Paul did not mince words either.

    Our churches are dying because we have grieved the Holy Spirit. Our choirs and bands are full of people living in deep sin. Our pulpits are silent against sin. More preachers want to be Christian psychologists preaching on things best left for seminars.

    I think that a person instead of criticizing Sunday night services should have made a contribution to that service.
     
  13. Monergist

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    This is just my two cents worth, but here's some reason I feel SBC churches are dying.

    1. A lack of preaching sound doctrine. As its already been stated here, most SBC churches have spurned historic baptist beliefs in favor of a watered down message.

    2. Topical and Textual messages rather than expository preaching. Few who claim to preach the whole counsel of God actually do it.

    3. Biblical Ignorance. Deacons, Sunday school teachers, church members, all who have sat under the type preaching listed above for years are like the proverbial frog in the boiling pot while passing on their tired old cliches' and shallow teaching to the next generation.

    4. A lack of Biblical Church Discipline.

    5. A lack of awareness of the sinfulness of sin.

    6. A lack of understanding the Holiness and perfection of God.

    7. A lack of Biblical Discernment. For example, why else would a SBC leader such as Bailey Smith have a hyper-charismatic pastor (Ron Phillips) preaching in his pastor's conferences last year?

    8. An overemphasis on programs, church growth programs, and a tendency to "jump on the bandwagon" for fads and trends.

    I'll stop here. My prayer is that true revival and reformation will sweep the SBC. There are some encouraging signs.
     
  14. tnelson

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    Sounds like some of you have been to some SBC churchs in my county. Some have a 45 min. song or prase servise then 15 min. of joke telling.

    I think Spurgeon put it this way, When the pulpit goes so goes the country.

    I think it showes that about Amercia.
    I agree with TimothyW, Pray that God will open ears that they might hear and eyes that they might see.
     
  15. Speedpass

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    Just out of curiosity, Timothy, are you part of the Founders movement?
     
  16. redwhitenblue

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    So only brimestone yelling preachers can cause conviction of sin? Sorry but that burden lies soley on the holy spirit and not the pastor, he's only the delivery boy.

    As I said before, each individual has their own personal taste in the method or type of preaching they can grow under. If I sat under a preacher who screams and yells at the congregation all I get out of it as I stated earier is one big headache and hopes that I never have to go back there again. Some folks like that, and I say to them GREAT...if you can grow under that then by all means plug away and see souls saved. I've seen plenty of souls saved under the type of preaching method I enjoy most, no not an ear tickler because ear ticklers don't normally get the truth out, my pastor is very humorous and has very good enlightening points to his sermons and best of all the holy spirit really works on my life when I listen to what he's saying. He's not all fun and jokes constantly, he has very serious moments too where seriousness of truth and holiness is focused on and sin is delt with but he doesn't have to get heated up to do it.

    As far as Sunday nights are concerned, perhaps you like them...fine and dandy, I don't. Where is it written you must be in church on a Sunday night? hmmm it's not.

    karen
     
  17. Monergist

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    No. I'm a young Christian who's trying to find a sound church for my family to attend.
     
  18. hrhema

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    I never said a preacher has to yell or spit or sputter to reach souls. Yet, I believe there needs to be balance in every preacher's ministry and I feel this is one of the main reasons not only the SBC but a lot of churches are dying.
    Yet, if we look at the Book of Revelation it is very clear that we are living in the Laodicean Age of the Church Age where people think they are spiritually rich but are blind and naked.

    Churches are dying because the ministry is not on fire nor are the people. Lukewarmness has permeated the churches so much that people are being deceived by the thousands.

    We are living in a world where violence has increased. Sexual darkness and perversion is rampant. The internet porn sites are destroying thousands of families. Cable Tv is doing the same.
    Divorce is rampant. Incest. Rape. Robbery.
    Murder. All of this increases daily and we think we can survive spiritually in a world so dark going to church once a week when our forefathers went at least three times a week and did not have to deal with what we deal with daily.

    The New Testament church was our example and they met daily yet we believe we can do less and it is
    ok with God. Jesus was in church every day. You can say but he was ministering. What about the people that followed him excluding his 12 disciples. That listened to his words daily.
    Our example is given by the Jews who visited their local synagogues daily. So yes the Bible does give us examples of how important church life should be to a Christian.

    This leads to another major problem with why churches are dying. The majority of ministers and members are so carnal and worldly minded that the things of this world is more important then the things of God. Jesus said that the people worship God with their lips but their hearts are far from him and that is the truth of today.

    The thing is a lot of churches have bought into programs and promotions instead of Holy Spirit leadership. The latest series must be preached or we must prepare our messages 5 years in advance.

    Does it bother us why more people are willing to flock to churches who may teach erroneous doctrines but at least the people feel they are being fed spiritually. As far as music not drawing people a survey was done at many of these super churches that are growing astronomically and music was one of the things people said that drew them to that particular church.

    Why should SBC churches allow themselves to die while churches that teach erroneous doctrines grow.
     
  19. td

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    I think Bailey Smith hit the nail on the head. Sounds pretty much like the church I attend. Good, honest folks but they are so attached to their precious traditions that they have quenched The Spirit. They mininster to their own needs pretty well, but are suspicious of outsiders that are different from them. Not exactly a Great Commission church. I love these people, but the spiritual state of the church saddens me. It has caused me to take a hard look at my own spiritual condition. I think this is just more evidence of our cultural state. It has become 'me-centered' and not 'God-centered'.
     
  20. redwhitenblue

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    One of the things that I believe has caused churches to not be blessed by God is that we are fighting with each other as christians instead of serving one another in love as God comanded us to. We are to be servants to each other and most of what we do is argue about who's right and who's wrong. Of course I believe there's much more to divided churches but I believe this is one of the factors.

    karen
     

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