Southern Baptists fight decline in membership

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Crabtownboy, May 30, 2008.

  1. Crabtownboy

    Crabtownboy
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    Southern Baptists fight decline in membership
    By Nancy H. McLaughlin
    Staff Writer
    Sunday, May. 25, 2008 3:00 am
    GREENSBORO — Like other member churches such as The Patio, Awestruck and The Journey, Reedy Fork Community Church stands out for what its name doesn't say: Southern Baptist.

    "When we started praying about it and putting the church together, we felt that we didn't want that to be a hindrance to anyone coming through the door," said the Rev. Franklin Bowman, who is pastor of the 2-year-old church affiliated with the country's largest Protestant group.

    "We know that people are coming from all parts of the country to our region and we understand that people from different denominations have different stereotypes about Baptists," Bowman says, "and we wanted to take away any and all kinds of roadblocks."

    That doesn't mean he's ashamed of being Baptist, a fact noted on the congregation's Web site. But even Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, is among those who blame the perception that Baptists are "mean-spirited, hurtful and angry people" for thwarting evangelism efforts. The denomination is losing membership.

    "We've just got age-old traditions that are not necessarily biblical, and I think they stand in the way of us reaching people like Christ wants us to reach them," Bowman said. "One thing is being judgmental — I think we need to be nonjudgmental and welcoming of everyone."

    Reedy Fork, where the dress code is casual and the congregation shares coffee before church, is growing, as overall Southern Baptist membership drops, according to Lifeway Christian Resources, which gathers information on the group's behalf.

    Other Christian denominations have the same problem with membership.

    In recent decades, however, the conservative-led Baptist group made news calling for a boycott of Walt Disney theme parks and films over its gay-friendly promotions and excluding moderate members from leadership roles. In North Carolina last year, the state Baptist association wrote a policy excluding churches that affirm openly homosexual lifestyles.

    "When you narrow the boundaries for 30 years, you'd expect that sooner or later people are going to take you at your word and stay away," said Bill Leonard, a Baptist historian and dean of the Wake Forest University Divinity School.

    http://www.news-record.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080525/NRSTAFF/867054534
     
  2. Revmitchell

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    Removing the name so as not to scare anyone off is deceitful and ungodly. People need to know who you are up front. This is manipulation at its best.
     
    #2 Revmitchell, May 30, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: May 30, 2008
  3. donnA

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    If the name baptist is a hinderance, what happens when people join and find out they've joined a baptist church and had no idea? I agree with revmitchell, it is deceitful to try and hide whay kind of church they are.
     
  4. Revmitchell

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    What they are going to do is take the reputation of being mean spirited to being liars and manipulators.
     
  5. just-want-peace

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    To a degree I agree, but ther's also a flip side to this.

    My daughter-in-law was one who could not tolerate mayonaise; she thought. Would studiously avoid any food with it in the mix. She inadverdently ate some chicken salad my wife had made, not knowing that she had used the dreaded ingredient, and loved it.

    She eats Mayo with no difficulty now.

    Many folk have a prejudice against "BAPTIST" because "THEY" are so rigid/fundamental/judgmental/holy rollers/etc/etc/etc, when all they REALLY know is what they have been told thru a friend's cousin's wife's brother's step uncle by marriage.

    It's up to the congregation to make the decision to use anything for the name, hopefully getting a real good dose of guidance by God before finalizing anything.

    Most prejudices will evaporate once the true nature of the church is experienced.
     
  6. donnA

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    We would not join a church who does not declare themselves baptist, as it is a starting point as to knowing what they believe.
     
  7. Revmitchell

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    I don't think you have to have Baptist in the name. But the problem comes in when your motivation is to hide who you are. I would offer though that it should be made obvious who you are if it isn't in the name. Such as the SBC log or something along those lines.

    There are other ways of presenting ourselves other than misrepresenting ourselves. How about actually reaching out in the community and being involved in hurting peoples lives. That will go farther than any manipulation tactic that brings a reproach on the ministry.
     
  8. Tom Bryant

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    No one is trying to deceive anyone about being SBC. At what point did identifying a denomination in your name becme equal to being honest and open. We're a Baptist church with baptist in our name but if scratching out baptist from our name meant we would get a chance to touch the lives of people who have been burned by churches with baptist in it, I'd do it.

    Whether we have baptist in our name or not doesn't change what we believe or our relationship to the SBC, the Fl Bapt Conv or our local ass'n. This kind of judgementalism ("being mean spirited to being liars and manipulators.") simply based an outward name is wrong.

    Maybe to really be truthful, we need to put everything we believe about everything into the name of the church so we could be the First Baptist Pre-Millenial, Pre-Tribulational, Inerrancy-believing, Substitutionary Atonement ... (ad nauseum) Church.
     
  9. Revmitchell

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    People have certain expectations of a church based on what is on the sign. A church that lists no denomination is considered non-denominational. If people do not want to go to an SBC church they should not be tricked into coming in.

    Again the real way to overcome and false perceptions about a baptist church is not to hide the name but to reach out to the community. Having the name on the sign is common, and expected therefore it is deceitful to withhold the name in order to draw them in.
    Add to that we should be evangelizing on the street not expecting a sign to draw them in.
     
  10. dcorbett

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    One word

    LAODECIAN
     
  11. Aaron

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    It depends on who's sayin' it. To the world, the Gospel is the stench of death (2 Cor. 2:16). So if it is those who are perishing who are thus judging Baptists, I'd say the Baptists are doing something right.

    Christ said not to be surprised if the world hated us. It hated Him first.
     
  12. Revmitchell

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    Yea I believe this gets lost in this whatever it takes evangelism.

    "It is not enough to do God's work; it must be done in His way and for His credit." ~ Erwin Lutzer
     
  13. ajg1959

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    Well, I have many problems with this article.

    First of all, Baptists are not protestants.

    Next, too many churches have gone to a more politically correct, easy going message that doesnt offend anyone. Easy believism is growing like a cancer. Salvation does not come by reciting a magical prayer, it comes through true faith and repentance. I said all of that to this....if standing against homosexuality and against ordaining gay pastors makes us mean and angry people, then I guess God intends for me to be mean and angry because His Word tells me that these things are abominations. Preaching the truth of God's Word is the most important role of the church. Pleasing worldly people by condoning immoral practices. or caving in to the crowd that think that worship should be "entertaining" is not biblical.

    I have no problem with gays attending our church...that is where they need to be, but, accepting them as members while practicing homosexuality, much less giving them leadership roles in the church is out of the question.

    So, in my opinion, the church is better off if the liberal compromisers of the Word do leave, the Charismatics will take them. The church needs to get back to godly teaching and standards regarless what the world thinks about it.

    This article was evidently written by a very liberal person that does not believe the truths of the Bible.

    AJ
     
    #13 ajg1959, May 30, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: May 30, 2008
  14. dcorbett

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    AJ - a big AMEN to everything you said.

    I want homosexuals to attend my church and hear the word of God. They are sinners just like everyone else that came through the doors at some point in time. They need a Savior.

    As far as actually accepting sinful behavior? Nope, cannot do that, anymore than we can condone someone coming into our church and bringing a six pack of beer. A sin is a sin is a sin. In order to accept Christ you must repent! No one can be a position of trust in a church if they are openly living in sin. They are to be rebuked.

    Someone said that in order to be saved, a person must first know that they are LOST. If these churches keep teaching that Christ is all fluff and joy, they will be sorely disappointed. Christ didn't promise us a bed of roses. He promise he would save us from what we really deserve! The bed of roses is up to us as we learn the real freedoms of being a Christian.

    Debbie Mc
     
  15. Tom Butler

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    I have a different take on the declining numbers in the SBC. We ought to lop off about 8-10 million of those members from our church rolls. Instead of admiring churches with large memberships, but can get only about 40% of them on any Sunday, we ought to be looking at those churches whose Sunday worship attendance is many times larger than the memberhship.

    I'm thinking of a huge mega-church which has 30,000 members on its roll. But its average Sunday attendance is about 10,000. Is there something wrong with this picture?

    But don't think small churches are immune. This situation is the rule, not the exception.
     
  16. SaggyWoman

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    You might be surprised to find a number of your church members with a six pack in their basements or fridge at home.
     
  17. Tom Bryant

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    A Baptist with beer in their frig???? I am shocked!!! :eek:
     
  18. Crabtownboy

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    Does anyone think that the leadership in Baptist circles have anything to do with helping cause the decline in membership or attendees?

    Is so, what are the reasons?
     
  19. Tom Butler

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    I doubt it. Don't forget that a decline in SBC membership is the result of a decline in the membership of individual churches. It is in those congregations you will find the answers, not in Nashville.

    And some of the answers might surprise you. My own congregation's membership roll declined significantly after some church conflict 25 years ago.

    But there's another reason. In the last five years, we have dropped a hundred or so non-resident members, whose whereabouts are unknown.

    But, to answer your question again, the SBC leadership had little if anything to do with any growth or decline in my home church.
     
  20. blackbird

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    Brother Tom is right!! No one has ever moved their letter in or out and no one has ever made a profession of faith and followed through in Believer's Baptism as a result of any one person being in leadership position in Nashville

    If I were to poll my congregation and ask them

    "Who is the current President of the SBC?"

    I'd get this sort of answer

    "Frank WHO????????!!!!! Who in the world is he???"

    They wouldn't know Frank from Dick from Billy Bob!!!

    They have no interest in who the current Executive/Treasurer is----"Morris Chapman------NOPE!!!! Never heard of 'im!!!!! BUT if he happened to be a guest speaker at the church for the day----I guarantee, somebody WILL take him out to Chili's for Sunday dinner!!!!! And guess who that someone would be?????

    You guessed it!!!! Brother Blackbird!!!!!:laugh:
     

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