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Discussion in 'Baptist History' started by SaggyWoman, Dec 31, 2009.
What do you think will be "baptist history" in the next 25 years? Where are Baptists headed?
It's a very good question. I don't begin to believe I have a corner on the market on this one.
One of the things that has really manifested itself is the movement towards post-denominationalism. Large organizations like my home denom, the SBC, will become increasingly marginalized as we see a rise of "church networks" that are para-denominational. These networks (Willow Creek, North Point, Acts29, etc) are already the way most younger ministers are connecting with others. They have little to no formal structure and really focus on developing new, autonomous local churches.
A subset of this is how long will the video/alternate campus movement last? It is realy making huge inroads right now, but does it have legs to become the dominate way we view church? I think there are a lot more problems with the video/alternate venue metholodology...far more problems than benefits. How long will it last and what will be the impact?
Maybe another point is the increasing push towards large and mega church ministries, even gigachurch, over smaller churches. We really need to define "success" and what our true goal is for a church. Too much of the mainstream evangelical media is saying that success and credibility are found in large churches. There are some pluses and minuses with this.
One thing that I am hopeful for is the proliferation of baptist theology and methodology into most every new church start. When was the last time you heard about a mainline church being planted and growing? Just being honest. The "victory" of Baptist theology and methodology will really be seen as most every evangelical will be baptistic in theology and practice. I think that is very neat.
What do you think?
Good question, but I'm afraid we may not see the word Baptist as much in 25 years. The area of the country I'm in seems to not have much respect for Baptists. I know of one SBC church that removed the word baptist from it's name. Another is considering the same for they believe the word baptist scares too many away. Many once fundamental conservative baptist congregations are looking to these modern marketing practices and ignoring the working of the Holy Spirit.
The last 25 years have seen enormous change in the life of the Baptist church. Every area - doctrine, practice, structure - has been affected. Technology and culture have been at the forefront, with some changes positive, some negative.
So where will we be 25 years from now? My observations (and these are not intended to endorse any of these - just my observations) are somewhat causal. That is, 1 leads to 2 which leads to 3 and so on:
1. The "graying and straying" of the clergy will come home to roost. This could be the most significant change. Given, we've had a recession which tends to spark some "callings" to ministry, but I don't think this will help much. Churches will have to close, merge, or accept pastoral candidates they ordinarily would not have to accept. Some FT churches will go bivocational because of this and other factors. I don't think we'll see an increase in the number of women as Baptist pastors, but we'll see an acceptance of divorced men (by churches who would not ordinarily do so), churches accept non-educated who previously did not, and churches accept educated (who previously did not, though this group will be rather small in comparison). In short, we'll see the same things Methodists, Presbys, Lutherans, and Catholics have seen over the years without the exact same reactions.
2. We will see fewer churches, but not drastically so in 25 yrs. Small churches are hanging on (with no net increase in 25 yrs). Large churches and mega churches are going to hang on and increase. Medium churches will continue to experience some level of flux as they have in the past decade.
3. Churches will continue to associate, but along the lines of orthopraxy and not orthodoxy. This is a present trend that will continue. Churches are nominally supporting state, national, and local conventions/associations, while joining with other denom churches or sister Baptist churches to engage in activities (missions, schools, etc.) which consume dollars and physical resources formerly spent on denominational entities and activities.
4. We will see a lesser number of local Baptist associations and will see regional associations instead. Some state conventions are already doing this, and I see no reason this will abate. Some will even go to more hierarchial structures, with state conv staffers being de facto DOMs in associations. One or two do this now I'm told. How many associations will go down? I'd venture we'll lose 5-10% in the next 20 yrs or so.
Not necessarily causal or in order:
- Baptist Seminaries will continue to undergo some mild changes, partly due to funding and partly due to a change in practice. The big six may have to expand online offerings or satellite branches to keep pace. State baptist colleges will continue to offer graduate programs, though some will fall by the wayside due to competition.
- The next big thing will come - repeatedly. "Experiencing God" will be replaced with something that will be replaced with something. Given the power and increase of Christian marketing, we'll likely never see another "Experiencing God." But we will see segmented movements and phases.
- Syncretism will continue and will likely not be so subtle. The meshing of different beliefs/practices will continue cross-denominational and even across different faiths.
- Reformed theology will continue to increase in Baptist life. Baptists will return to her roots. Some will ardently and radically do so, drastically altering their belief and behavior structures, while some will do so more tepidly.
This is all for now.
In plain English, we are on a slippery slope and this will continue.
The anti-CCM argument will still be around. The difference between now and then will be that a lot of the choruses we sing today will be considered "traditional", while the new stuff written in the 2020's and later will be considered "CCM".
We will be debating whether electronic instruments are scriptural.
The SBC will boycott Disney's third theme park in Anaheim (a little local humor there).
We will have accepted that speciation occurs, but will claim that geniation is false.
We will be debating the validity of divine omnitemporality.
We will be debating whether hovercars are biblical.
Although we live in a time of increasing worldliness/lukewarmness amongst Christians I believe that God's people will still follow the light of the Gospel in the midst of dark times. Those who are merely attenders of a baptist church may well fall away but those who are saved and are baptist by conviction will continue to persevere in faith 'once delivered to the saints'.
Luke asked the question in chapter 8, verse 8 (assuming he wrote the book with his name on it), "When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" Even back then there was doubt as to whether or not Christ would find any who "live by faith" when He returns.
There are two main streams of Baptists in America: the Charleston tradition and the Sandy Creek tradition. I suspect that the churches in these two streams will continue in their respective paths which means that gap between the two traditions will probably widen. Baptists will likely become more fragmented. Baptists need to find more common ground so that they can work together, but I just don't see it happening.
Here is an interesting article concerning different derivations of Southern Baptist. I find myself as a traditionalist with a little culture warrior mixed in. It would be interesting to see the different self evaluations.
All I know is I hope I'm not here another 25 years.
40 Percent senor
Of all Baptist preachers will be women