Southern Baptists Now In Decline

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Revmitchell, May 3, 2008.

  1. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell
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    In a story from the Christian Post, Lillian Kwon reports that Southern Baptists are now a declining denomination, meaning they are no longer getting the Results and Relationships they covet.

    The troubling article begins this way:

    For the first time, Southern Baptists can say membership has reached a tipping point and the nation's largest Protestant denomination is now declining, says one long-time Southern Baptist.

    "The decline that many of us have already believed is there is now becoming real," said Ed Stetzer, director for LifeWay Research, in an interview featured on MondayMorningInsight.com, a Web site for pastors and church leaders.

    Baptisms in the Southern Baptist Convention fell for the third straight year in 2007 to the denomination's lowest level since 1987, dropping nearly 5.5 percent to 345,941, according to LifeWay Christian Resources' Annual Church Profile (ACP), which was released this week.

    Total membership also declined by 0.24 percent to 16,266,920.

    Later in the article, Kwon offered a quote from the head of LifeWay Christian Resources, the publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, in response to the findings:

    "This report is truly disheartening," said LifeWay president Thom S. Rainer, according to Baptist Press. "Total membership showed a slight decline. Baptisms have now declined for three consecutive years and for seven of the last eight years, and are at their lowest level since 1987. Indeed, the total baptisms are among the lowest reported since 1970. We are a denomination that, for the most part, has lost its evangelistic passion."
    Well, Mr. Rainer, that’s not all we’ve lost.

    More Here
     
  2. blackbird

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    I wouldn't "exactly say" we have lost our evangelistic zeal----as much as I would have to say we have finally reached a "saturation" point

    Like a sponge that will absorb water----it will keep on absorbing until it reaches a saturation point------so with the SBC----SBC membership compared to United States population

    Thats the dangers of looking behind----we look at last year's baptisms and say to ourselves

    "We've got to get one more than last year!" and when we see ourselves as not acheiving that goal---automatically---we're in decline

    I say--quit comparing baptisms from year to year

    To baptise one less than last year---does not put us in the Loser bracket
     
  3. pinoybaptist

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    Not a Southern Baptist, but I find myself very much in agreement with Blackbird here.

    Other denominations of Baptists should do the same thing.

    Stop comparing last year's "souls won" results with this year's.
    Stop comparing last year's "tithes and offerings given" with this year's.
    Stop comparing last year's "surrenders to the ministry" with this year's.
    Stop comparing last year's "re-dedications" with this year's.

    The kingdom of God is His business and economy.
    Not man's.
    Therefore man should stop behaving like the kingdom of God is his corporation, with sales and achievement goals.

    These are some of the reasons why I will never re-join the Bible Baptists.

    Primitive Baptists just thank the Lord for the numbers He gives this year.
    Yesterday and tomorrow are all His.
     
  4. Revmitchell

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    There is so much more to the article than that.
     
  5. Tom Butler

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    I can offer one explanatioin for part of the decline. Over the last three years we have dropped 300 people from our church rolls for non-attendance and non-support.

    Maybe other SBC churches are doing the same thing--moving toward integrity in their membership rolls.
     
  6. Tom Bryant

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    I think that what Tom said is more right than not. We have also been going thru our membership lists. We have removed people for a variety of reasons.

    But I also think we are not reaching people with the same intensity as before. Some of that may be we have become more inwardly focused because of the needed and necessary Conservative Resurgence and more lately with some stupidity.
     
  7. guitarpreacher

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    Could you explain that a little more? I'm not sure I'm understanding what you mean.
     
  8. donnA

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    I think saturation point means that the people around you, have heard it and heard it (gospel), there are not many who haven't. I know we live in a small area, with only a few thousand people, probably 98% of whom have heard the gospel many times. Very few have never heard.
     
  9. nodak

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    All ya'll in saturated areas, come on over to "Macedonia"!

    Really, I believe we are declining because we are not doing our job, which is the great commission.

    Most people in our county have never heard of the need to be born again, or of salvation by grace through faith.

    Lay people ARE witnessing and inviting as many as we can reach.

    But it sure would help if the SS and church services were evangelistic once in a while. Preaching to the choir about how to live the Christian life just keeps us declining.

    We need to get back to preaching Christ and Him crucified!

    In total truth, I haven't heard an evangelistic message in an SBC church in at least 10 years.
     
  10. donnA

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    The great commision also says to teach them to obey, this is what a pastor or Su. sch. teacher is doing when they teach on living the christian life. If they left this off they would be disobeying the great commision. Not to mention making weak christians who have no idea how they should live.
    Success is not measured by quanity, but quality. Your version would produce quanity, and a false belief of success, but very little quality. A lot of milk feed babies, not many meat eaters.
     
  11. tinytim

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    It is just not the SBC... it is churches all over...

    Latest excuse for not coming to church:

    "I only have enough money for gas to go to work this week... I have to save what gas I have."

    Gotta love em excuses!!!
     
  12. JustChristian

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    I grew up as a SB. Then I belonged to an ABC church for 15 years. Now I belong to a CBF church. I no longer would choose to belong to an SBC church. They have focused more on politics both internal and national than on winning the lost. They've become very narrow minded not at all like the church I grew up in. I'm not talking about supporting heretical doctrine like "Christ isn't dive" but minor points. The argument about Calvinism which really isn't that important is a good example of this narrow view of the gospel. Also, the SBC was the only major Christian group (including Catholics) which supported Bush's invasion of Iraq before the war started. Personally, I don'y believe that the emphasis of Christianity should be on war but on peace and loving our fellow man.
     
  13. preachinjesus

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    This is beginning of the realization of the reality many younger leaders have been talking about for the last 10 years.

    We are approaching and (in some areas) have entered an increasingly post-Christian era. It's not a good thing or a bad thing...just the way it is. We cannot continue to use methods of last century (which worked, well sort of, then) to reach the unchurched and dechurched of this century.

    The SBC's gross over-statement of our membership numbers is representative of our disattachment from society. Most of my unchurched friends roll their eyes at membership, because it means nothing. We need a convention wide audit of our membership roles. Additionally our constant denominational infighting is killing our credibility at home and abroad. If we keep bombing the same desolate, captured battlefields we just kill our own troops.

    The real number in this survey is Sunday worship attendance, which doesn't look good. We have leveled off in all areas and, when actual populaiton growth is measured, we are declining.

    I do pray and hope we see a new wave of passionate, Christ centered evangelistic efforts. The next generation needs Christ, authenticity is key.
     
  14. Timsings

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    It is true that some churches are moving to clean up their roles. My church did this some years ago. However, no one has mentioned the 800 pound gorilla in the room. (I thought BaptistBeliever was going to, but he went in a different direction.) I think that the SBC's being in bed with the Religious Right and the Republican Party over the last thirty years has tarnished the image of the SBC and led many people to see the SBC as twisting the gospel to fit their political ambitions. They are so intertwined now that I wonder whether the SBC can ever extricate itself from the GOP.

    Tim Reynolds
     
  15. preachinjesus

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    I completely agree and this is an excellent point!

    The destruction of our credibility through the giving over of Christ's Church to the politicians has far reaching implications. We've sold our birthright and for what?

    Politics have no place in or on our pulpits and platforms.
     
  16. JustChristian

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    Yes, I think that's the heart of the matter. In my case, I had 2 self-styled Christians on different occasions tell me to my face that a Democrat couldn't be a Christian.
     
  17. Salty

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    When our elected leaders are advocating homosexuality, free love, abortion, the so-called "separation of church and state"; the pulpit has a responsibility to speak out.

    Now, when issues in question do not have a Biblical basis - thats another story. For example here in my county, the big push is consolidation of governments ( we have 19 towns, 12 villages, 1 city, 15 school districts, numerous fire departments...) many would like to consolidate all towns into one county govt. Now, personally, I am opposed to that - but there is no Biblical basis for that - so I would never preach against it from the pulpit

    Salty

    ps if someone can give me a Bible passage against consolation, let me know, and don't say III Corinthians:laugh:
     
  18. Revmitchell

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    Actually it could be more tied with this new post-modern psuedo-gospel that denies innerrancy, calls the Genesis accounts 'tales', spends more time worying about life on earth than the actual gospel, is beholden to a subculture, and down plays the wrath of God, hell, Satan, and godly fear.

    And so long as there are those who attack the reliability of scripture there will be those who stand against those attacks. As long as there are those who believe we should evangelize at any cost at all there will be those who stand up for the true gospel.

    Buzz words like "authenticity" only means humanisim, self centered worship that has nothing to do with God.
     
  19. preachinjesus

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    Yeah, I just disagree here...though it is probably over how we are to "speak out."

    Political action will never truly change people. Sure, you can get people to act slightly moral but there are always loopholes. Yet there is never a loophole for Gospel centered living. The only way we are called to change people isn't through legislation and political action, but through connecting with those who need life change with the Gospel.

    I don't see any Scriptural passage about Christians pursuing, actively, political change as evangelicals (and particularly the SBC has.) Rather I see a definite call for action through prayer and encouragement.

    Notice the example of the early church. When persecuted they implored their leaders through prayer to seek change. One of the greatest changes in their era was brought about when all the secular leaders vacated Rome during a nasty outbreak of the plague. The Christians were found caring for the sick and dying. We truly change people through the Gospel, not some vain hope in legislation. :)

    Do you mean consolidation? I was actually thinking 2 Opinions...
     
  20. Crabtownboy

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    When I have time I'll give some reasons I think the SBC is declining and I am sure there are those who will disagree with my thoughts. But than, what else is new? :tongue3:

    Y'all might like to read the book, "Uneasy in Babylon: Southern Baptist Conservatives and American Culture" by Barry Hankins.
     

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