The future of Baptists

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by KPBAP, May 28, 2003.

  1. KPBAP

    KPBAP
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    In attending various Baptist meetings I see a void in younger adults...and I mean under the age of 50. Is this true where you live???

    Do younger adults 1. Know what Baptists believe?
    2. Know why Baptists do what they do? (missions, teaching, ministry)
    Do you think most younger adults look at church as another consumer commodity to pick and choose or something else?

    What will Baptists be like in 10-20 years???
     
  2. dianetavegia

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    KPBAP, in OUR church (980 members), there is an age group that seems to be unaware of what the BIBLE says about things. I'm 52 but attend the 40 plus Sunday School class with 45 members. I'm shocked at the long time members of this class who don't know where things are in the Bible and don't know what God said about certain things.

    HOWEVER.... once a month we have a fellowship breakfast with 'Generation Act's', the young marrieds class. They are about the same in size and the ages are 20-30. I find the young men in that class to be very well versed in scripture, missions, what Baptists believe and powerful men of prayer.

    I, personally, see a resurgence in interest in God's word and devotion to God the Father in the younger generation in our area. AND, they are teaching their children and witnessing/ ministering accordingly.

    Diane in Georgia
     
  3. Kiffin

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    KPBAP, I see a graying of Baptist churches in my area and a overall decline in numbers. The Southern Baptist Convention has bloated numbers that exaggerate our size.


    SBC Total Membership (2002) -- 16,247,736
    16.2 million

    Avg. Worship Attendance (2002) -- 5,839,945


    Only about 34-35% of Southern Baptists attend Church! Very disturbing. :(
     
  4. dianetavegia

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    Kiffin, our church of 980 has an average church attendance of just over 500 so we are slightly over 50%. However, we are in the Bible belt and there are many more churches than gas stations or grocery stores here.

    Diane
     
  5. Hardsheller

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    The Graying is evidenced mostly in associational meetings. Our state convention meeting here in Missouri has a lot of young folks in attendance compared to our Associational meetings.

    I believe that the Association is the one level of Southern Baptist life that is declining rapidly.

    BTW, I don't see that same graying in our local church.
     
  6. Pastor Larry

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    What is being done to bring these other 480 people into biblical obedience?

    This is a great problem in Baptist churches. The rolls are filled with people who are living in direct disobedience to God by never attending the services of hte local church with whom they covenanted to serve and fellowship with before God. Here, we are getting ready again to purge the membership and reorganize the constitution.

    Our procedure will be as follows:
    1. After 4 consecutive weeks of absence, a deacon will call on the member to find out why they haven't been there and to encourage them to return. (At this point they lose their voting privileges which can be restored by 4 consecutive weeks of attendance.)
    2. After 8 consecutive weeks, a deacon will take another deacon or the pastor to call on them.
    3. After 12 consecutive weeks, their name will be brought before the church for discipline.

    This structure follows the biblical pattern of Matthews 18 by going one on one, then taking two or three, then bringing it before the church. The process is stopped any time the offending member "listens to them."

    Obviously health problems are excusable. But just not showing up is disobedience to God and a disservice to the fellow believers. If someone doesn't show up in 12 weeks after being exhorted to return, they are showing themselves to have abandoned the church and will be treated in accordance with teh biblical admonitions on church discipline.

    We need to take membership seriously.
     
  7. Dr. Bob

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    I have likewise seen a resurgence of interest in the Word and deep doctrinal truth and faithfulness to following the Lord in the "young adult" class.

    These young people were saved in HS or College, discipled in basic salvation (typical ifb), then left adrift. But they got into the WORD and love the Lord and are deeper doctrinally than many in my age bracket (mid-50's).

    Reading RC Sprouls daily devotional study instead of the innocuous Daily Bread. Given me great hope . . .
     
  8. dianetavegia

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    You're preaching to the choir, Pastor Larry. I've missed one Sunday in 17 months and that was after a hospital visit for antibiotic induced diarrhea following too much meds for an abscessed tooth. I could, in no way, attend that week but my family went! I've missed 2 Wednesday nights when my child was sick and I had no one to watch him.

    Diane
     
  9. KPBAP

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    Our procedure will be as follows:
    1. After 4 consecutive weeks of absence, a deacon will call on the member to find out why they haven't been there and to encourage them to return. (At this point they lose their voting privileges which can be restored by 4 consecutive weeks of attendance.)
    2. After 8 consecutive weeks, a deacon will take another deacon or the pastor to call on them.
    3. After 12 consecutive weeks, their name will be brought before the church for discipline.

    What kind of Baptist church, may I ask, is this?
    I have never heard of such legalistic means. What if a member is faithful in attendance but does not tithe regularly??
     
  10. wizofoz

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    I agree, KPBAP.

    I would think that this would help drive away more people than it would bring in.

    I don't think we should stress membership for the sake of membership. Numbers don't mean that much.
     
  11. Squire Robertsson

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    I'm a firm believer in keeping a clean church roll. In San Francisco, it is very easy for folks to disappear into the wood work. However, we do send out a bi-monthly newsletter to all members. Every two years or so, a list is developed of folks with which we have lost contact. These are presented to the church for erasure from the membership roll. Usually, the list is about 12-20 names.

    As for a graying of the Church, some of that comes from an "us four; no more; let's meet, eat and burp" attitude. This is especially noticable in a congregation like mine where the "church kids" moved out to the 'burbs. Such young singles and couples we have moved into the area. They are not second or third generation members of my church. This has taken a definite effort on the part of my church's leadership to accomplish this.
     
  12. dianetavegia

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    We probably have more members in nursing homes or homebound than a lot of smaller churches have members. We also have a large number of people who have weekend homes and they'll miss a few weekends a month.

    However, I also think the procedure in Pastor Larry's church would encourage people to attend but not be members of a church.

    Church attendance is highly recommended and viewed seriously by someone like myself and my husband... but missing church is not listed as a sin and would not call for discipline, in my humble opinion. A nice visit from the deacon and the Faith team/ Sunday School teacher IS in order. In fact, we average almost 600 visits, phone calls and cards each week.

    Diane
     
  13. Pastor Larry

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    A NT one that takes the NT commands regarding the body very seriously. This is not a game for religionists. It seems we must admit that on the basis of the NT.

    This is not legalism in any way. You have a strange definition of legalism if you think this qualifies. The NT sets forth the expectation of regular involvement in the body. We believe in that very seriously. If someone is not regularly involved in the body functions, such as worship, fellowship, education, and evangelism, then they are disobedient.

    We don't keep track of who tithes for the purpose of requiring it and disciplining those who don't for the simple reason that tithing is not a NT command; attendance and involvement in ministry is.

    We do not stress membership for the sake of membership. I do not follow the numbers that much. We stress membership for the sake of obedience, as the NT has commanded and set the pattern for us.

    Have you all really thought through the issues of local church primacy and what it means to be a believer? Though I probably shouldn't be surprised, I still am. How is it that body life is so lowly valued in teh NT church? Can we really call ourselves a church if we do not look and act like the church did? Why is this so foreign?? I think the book edited by Mark Dever called Polity would be very instructive. This lax view of church membership is a newcomer on the scene, and an unfortunate newcomer to be sure.
     
  14. Pastor Larry

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    People who are sick are one thing. We have a number of those. People who regularly miss church for the leisure of a vacation home need to be challenged about their priorities.

    I don't see the logic employed here. I do see a great fallacy however. If insisting on obedience drives members away, should we then quit disciplining people for adultery simply because it might drive them off? I hardly think this is a good reason for a selection of principles by which to operate the NT church.

    But why, may I ask? Is it because the NT is not clear on "assembling ourselves together" and ministering to one another in the body out of humility and love? Or is it because we are too driven by things other than the priority of the gospel? Or is there a third reason that I can't find??

    If you notice, everyone receives multiple visits along the way. In fact, before this is carried out, there will probably be close to a dozen contacts made by different people in the church.

    Again, the issue is very simply, what does the NT describe the church like and what does the NT expect of believers? That should be the only concern here. Obviously the numbers are quite arbitrary, but 1/3 of a year seems plenty of time for those who are interested in obedience to show their interest. If someone is habitually not attending, should we not be asking why? Are they not interested in growth? Are they not interested in the fellowship and love that they are supposed to both give and receive through the body? Why Why Why??
     
  15. KPBAP

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    I must be lacking knowledge. Where in Scripture did Jesus command Church Membership?
     
  16. Pastor Larry

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    Yes, you are lacking knowledge (since you brought it up). The consistent pattern of the NT church is membership, faithfulness, and ministry involvement. This is so basic to Baptist life and NT teaching it is surprising that it is being questioned on a baptist board. From the very first start of the chruch we see people being "added." That is membership. Then we see lists and discipline, both which require membership to make any sense. There is faithfulness required. There is ministry required, which, in a church-centered NT life, is impossible apart from membership in the NT church. Everyone is supposed to be ministering in the church of which they are a part.

    Warfield, in his Religious Life of Theological STudents points out very cogently that Christ set the example for us. If there was anyone who had good reason to exempt himself from teh teaching and reading of God's word, it was Christ. Yet he was there, involved in it and listening. If he set the example, why are we so loathe to follow.
     
  17. Mitsy

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    "....3. After 12 consecutive weeks, their name will be brought before the church for discipline."

    Mercy, sounds a lot like some of the Jehovah's Witness groups that I know of. I would hate to be a part of a church where "attendance" was taken each Sunday.
     
  18. Pastor Larry

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    [​IMG] You guys kill me ... you really do. I bet your church takes attendance every week in their SS or Bible Study classes. In fact, I have never been in a church where attendance was not taken. Let me ask you this: How in the world do you know who gets to vote at church business meetings?? Can someone just show up and vote?

    Notice that not one of you has yet objected on biblical grounds, arguing that people from this perspective misunderstand the biblical nature of the body relationship. Not one of your has argued from the text of Scripture that we are asking too much. I think that is telling. I think if we pay careful attention to the NT pattern and study baptist history, you will find that this is actually not a tough position at all. It is pretty lax. I know of churches where the number is three weeks and if you miss three weeks in a row you have to go back through all the membership classes and join the church again.

    I think the reason this is so stunning to many is that the modern church has gotten far away from the biblical ideal. We think that requiring 1 hour, every four weeks is overwhelming and asking too much. Do the math and figure out the percentage of that. Here is the answer: 0.001488 percent of your time each month must be devoted to the body that you claim to love and support. Think about that. 1 hour out of 672 is all that is required to make this standard. Why is that asking too much? Do you think the body of our Lord deserves less than that?? Why are we so willing to tolerate mediocrity in the love and service of our Savior to his body? Do you know what the NT standard was? Read the book of ACts. It says they met daily. We are far behind that and yet people are still inconvenienced and it remains a stark red flag in the middle of the road that no one has yet to raise a biblical objection. Why not?

    I daresay that most of you, if your arm decided to take a day off, would be making a beeline for the doctor to find out why. You would not accept that from your body. Why do you accept it for the Lord's body? Is his not more important than yours? Are not the various parts of teh body given to the body for service (1 Cor 12; Rom 12) necessary to make the body function? Why do we not pursue the parts of our spiritual body like we do the parts of our physical body? Why does no one offer a biblical objection.

    My point is not the particular numbers attached to this standard. You might use 6 months or a year. I would question why, but that is another issue. My concern is the mindset that seems so lacksadaisical about the body. The NT gave no such hint.
     
  19. Mitsy

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    I've never been a part of a church where attendance was ever taken. In fact, in the E-Free Church, one could miss for a month of Sundays or more without the pastor even noticing (one of the bad things about a church getting so big that few people notice when you're gone).

    Voting issues were done as an honors system...everyone had a slip of paper and everyone could voice their preference for something, but you were supposed to indicate if you were a member or not, although ultimately the member votes were what really counted. If someone was not there the day of the vote, then you just missed out.

    I do think attendance is important, however, I think people need to indicate to others if they plan on being out of town or certain circumstances that prevent them from attending. Years ago, I had heard of churches having the pastor or deacons visit absent members, however, it's been years since I've heard of that being done locally. I've only heard of "church discipline" for non-attendance in regards to the Mormons and Jehovah's Witness groups, so that part sounds a bit on the "control" side to me.
     
  20. Speedpass

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    I've attended church quite regularly the past 6 months, but I have not attended a service at the congregation where my "church letter" is since December 8th of last year. I guess I must be a "bad" Christian :mad: :eek: :confused:
     

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