Where are all the converts?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by shannonL, Mar 13, 2006.

  1. shannonL

    shannonL
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    I was just looking at a IFB church's website. The church was in TX. The pastor has been there 20yrs.
    They have about 1200 members who regularly attend.
    However on their website under the pastor's bio. (interesting) I see that they average around 600 baptisms a year.

    So lets see. over the last 20yrs. X 600 baptisms per year somes to about 12,000 people. The church stated plainly that they run about 1200. So where did the 9000 or so other folk go?

    Over the 20 or 22 year ministry of this pastor they have had according to their own documentation 12,000 people that have been saved. At least that is what I thought happened to a person if they have been baptized? Not that baptism saves you I'm just being a little sarcastic. Only 10% or so of the 12,000 that have made "decisions"over a 20yr. period have remained in the church etc...?

    I just have to laugh. A church basically brags about all these baptisms yet can't even see themselves that maybe something "ain't right"?

    How arrogant or maybe ignorant it is to make such a claim of 12,000 people coming to Christ under your church's ministry yet you can't find no more than about 10% of them all together.

    What do some of you all think?
     
  2. donnA

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    Currently average 600, but did they 20 years ago? Are you a member of the same church you were saved and baptized in? Most people aren't, they move on, or just move to new locations. Sometimes God has a specific place planned for you, or them as it may be. And some people just don't go t church regularly. We don't know whats really going on at that church your talking about, why speculate, your speculation could be wrong, and if it is you've falsely judged a fellow church. Instead of tearing up, picking at the body of Christ we should building it up, encouraging the body.
     
  3. IveyLeaguer

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    Doesn't look like it adds up but there is a definite trend of heavy migration from church to church within professed Christianity.
     
  4. tinytim

    tinytim
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    To some churches it's all about numbers...

    "I won so many to the Lord this week"

    "Praise God... how did you do it?"

    "just repeat this prayer......"

    I never was a fan of Christianity salesmen!
     
  5. standingfirminChrist

    standingfirminChrist
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    In 20 years time, many could have grown in faith and began new churches, gone to mission fields, moved to another state, or possibly even passed on. In all likelihood, many have fallen out, but we must be careful not to judge the church because many are not there. Many of Jesus' disciples forsook Him during his ministry and followed Him no more. Are we to assume that because the majority that followed Him left, that there was something wrong with His ministry? God Forbid!
     
  6. standingfirminChrist

    standingfirminChrist
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    ahhh, but David was a Christianity salesman...

    Just as a salesman loves to show off his product, David loved sharing the Lord with others through his Psalms.
    Oh magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt His name together. Psalm 34:4

    A salesman will invite you to try out his product. David encouraged his listeners to taste of the Lord's goodness.
    Oh taste and see that the Lord is good. Psalm 34:8

    Yes, David was a salesman of the Lord. Perhaps it is not the church's sales technique, perhaps it is. Maybe they need to change their product line. Instead of selling flesh, sell Christ. We can say what draws a person to the church will usually keep them.
     
  7. Grasshopper

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    Sounds like FBC Hammond Ind. several years back.
     
  8. Frenchy

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    I believe i mentioned in another post i wasn't a big fan of numbers either. this is what happens with easy believism preaching or witnessing that pushes for a person to pray a prayer just so they can say they won someone to the Lord. I've seen this done before right before my eyes during visitation. these people who prayed the prayer never stayed for very long in the church if at all.

    and again donna and SFC can be right that people do move, but i doubt that is the majority.
     
  9. GeneMBridges

    GeneMBridges
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    This is the real annual church profile of a prominent SBC church.

    2001
    3506 members
    203 baptisms
    253 other additions
    2200 primary worship attendance

    2002
    3812 members
    296 baptisms
    190 other additions
    2100 primary worship attendance

    2003
    4011 members
    209 baptisms
    137 other additions
    2031 primary worship attendance

    2004
    4163 members
    237 baptisms
    204 other additions
    1874 primary worship attendance

    Would this church meet anyone’s criteria for "declining?" It went from a counted Sunday morning worship attendance of 2200 in 2001 to 1874 in 2004.

    they have baptized 945 people during that 4 year period and they have added 784 people by other means. But the church membership only grew by 657. It took 1729 new members for the church to grow by 657 members.

    In addition those 1729 new members resulted in 326 fewer worshipers. This means if the church continues to grow at this rate then by the time it adds around 10,000 new members the preacher will be preaching to an empty auditorium .

    Here's another one:

    2001
    27905 members
    21555 resident members
    982 baptisms
    683 other additions
    9035 primary worship attendance

    2002
    28325 members
    21686 resident members
    801 baptisms
    720 other additions
    9186 primary worship attendance

    2003
    28837 members
    21987 resident members
    774 baptisms
    652 other additions
    8828 primary worship attendance

    2004
    29349 members
    22189 resident members
    774 baptisms
    667 other additions
    9168 primary worship attendance

    In 4 years, according to the ACP, this church baptized 3331 people and had 2720 other additions. This means that 6051 people joined the church from 2001-2004. Yet, the primary worship attendance in 2001 was 9035 and in 2004 was 9168 or a total increase of 133. The resident membership increased from 21555 in 2001 to 22189 in 2004, a total of 634.


    The SBC says it is 16.4 million strong. Uh-huh. Then why do only 1/4 to 1/3 of them show up on Sunday morning? It's high time the SBC stopped violating the 9th commandment while it pats the pastors of these churches on the back for a job well done at the Pastor's Conferences every year.

    Southern Baptist Evangelist Jim Eliff writes:

     
  10. GeneMBridges

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    a. They left Christ because they did not believe. John 6 is a prime example. Jesus explains their unbelief. Part of Jesus mission was to blind some and confirm their unbelief fulfilling Isa. 6. However, as a general rule, this is not the mission of NT churches; though it can happen.

    b. How exactly is it that churches are baptizing large numbers and not making them church members too? This is a huge disconnect. Baptism is considered the door of church membership.

    c. Large numbers who do not show make one wonder if the membership itself is actually regenerate. Too many Baptist churches baptize large numbers, some for the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th time. Baptism is a control on a regenerate membership, but it also takes a strong interview process and probationary period. Baptist churches are full of unregenerate people. In my experience, this is directly attributable to the revivalism of the last 20th century that took place apart from sound doctrinal teaching.

    d. Apropos b, this belittles the ordinances. Apropos c, this does not bode well for the Lord's Supper especially, as many may be taking it to their judgment. Strangers at the Table are not welcome. Even an open communion Baptist church mandates the communicants are regenerate.

    Much more can be said on this. See here:

    http://www.ccwonline.org/sbc.html
     
  11. Joseph M. Smith

    Joseph M. Smith
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    I agree that this may be part of the problem. I too had always understood baptism as the door to church membership, but early in my pastorate I began to get requests from people for baptism without church membership attached. Of course I counseled with each one and encouraged them to think more carefully about the meaning of baptism and of church membership, but usually to no avail. We did not proceed to baptize into a nebulous church, except in one case where my Assistant Pastor took up the cause in behalf of one of our youth, and the deacons went along with him and overrode my objections. The best I could do was to stipulate that I personally would not do that baptism.

    But those discussions in our church, several times over the years, brought out the concept, expressed most clearly by one of our members who was a seminary graduate, that I could baptize someone into the church universal. I just don't think, however, that there is a church universal apart from churches local.

    Behind all of this is a lingering sacramentalism that continues to attribute salvific power to the act of baptism itself. I well remember one lady speaking about how glad she was that one of her grandchildren was about to be baptized, so that there would be a "blanket of protection" over the girl. She really meant that in the most literal sense .. that no harm would come to a baptized person!
     
  12. pituophis

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    One thing about those year by year numbers is that it doesn't reflect deaths within a congregation (or people leaving to another church), however, this should be minimal.

    If I saved myself, then I probably would not really want to go to church (at least not all of the time because I have better things to do (such as the races, fishing, TV, etc). But if God saved me, I AM a new creation and now have new "want-to's" and WILL come to church because that is where I can fellowship with others who have experienced God's sovereign grace, that is where I can corporatly worship Him, that is where I can grow in the Word, and because God tells me to (Heb 10:25). It is all about the soils...which one are they.

    I believe too many churches (particularly SBC now) are quick to baptize. After all, we have to get a million this year!
     
  13. Brian30755

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    This discussion reminded me of the beginning of Ray Comfort's message, "Hell's Best Kept Secret".

    In the late seventies, God very graciously opened an itinerant ministry to me. As I began to travel, I found that I had access to church growth records, and found to my horror that something like 80 to 90% of those making a decision for Christ were falling away from the faith. That is, modern evangelism with its methods is creating something like 80 to 90 of what we commonly call backsliders for every hundred decisions for Christ.

    Let me make it more real for you. In 1991, in the first year of the decade of harvest, a major denomination in the U.S. was able to obtain 294,000 decisions for Christ. That is, in one year, this major denomination of 11,500 churches was able to obtain 294,000 decisions for Christ. Unfortunately, they could only find 14,000 in fellowship, which means they couldn’t account for 280,000 of their decisions, and this is normal, modern evangelical results, and something I discovered way back in the late seventies; it greatly concerned me.


    Here's a Link to the entire message.
     
  14. bapmom

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    I believe much of this is because we as soul-winning churches are branching out to all areas of our local communities in order to win souls. Then the convert tends to go to a nearby church in their area, rather than necessarily attend the church of the soul-winner. I know this is very true of my own church. Most of our "problem" right now is that we go to very poor and needy people, and they cannot get all the way to our church so they go to one within walking distance of their home. We don't have the resources to go pick up everyone who can't make it on their own.

    We also do not automatically add a person to our membership list just because they got baptised. They have to request membership separately. Since we also baptize bus kids who are saved on Saturdays, this minimizes the problems with the parents who suddenly finds their child a member of our church. That child instead must request permission to become a member if he so chooses and if the parent gives permission than he is joined.
     
  15. Psalm 100

    Psalm 100
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    We average about 3-4 baptisms every Sunday. The breakdown is about 1/3 adult, 2/3 youth/children. In our church, we don't count children/ youth service towards our attendance numbers (although we do keep track of how many come). I know something like this wouldn't make up for all those MIA Christians, but it could fill the gap a little.
     
  16. Tom Butler

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    GeneMBridges and Joseph M. Smith may have put their fingers on a big part of the problem: The apparently huge disconnect between baptism and the local church.

    Bapmom provided the perfect illustration when she said they would baptize folks but membership in the local congregation was requested separately.

    This perhaps is one explanation, but probably not the only one, for the difference in all those baptisms GeneM listed in his posts and the church membership numbers.

    The other obvious explanation has already been offered. We are baptizing unregenerate folks, and eventually they'll just act naturally.

    That raises questions about how we present the gospel, of even if we're presenting it. One would think that the wide gap in the ACP numbers would drive a re-examination of how we got those numbers.

    Does setting a goal of a million baptisms for the SBC this year not even raise the smallest warning flag?

    Tom B.
     
  17. bapmom

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    I think we ought to have some sort of goals out there. I do think its interesting that if an IFB church had set that type of goal they'd have been slammed repeatedly and the conversation would have had its 20th thread started on it by now. [​IMG] No bitterness, just an observation.

    I don't think its fair to look at one church's website, see their numbers, and automatically assume that that means the church is full of unregenerate members, and/or is preaching an easy-believism sort of thing. (Not that Tom B. said that.....) This has been done to my church, as well. Yet I know we don't teach "pray-a-prayer, get your free fire-insurance".

    I do think as a whole we need more teaching on how to actually lead a soul to Christ. I had a class on it in college, but for me it actually intellectualized it so much that for awhile I forgot about the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the One who does that convicting, and when He's around, if He's drawing that person, than no matter how inept the soul-winner may be, that person will hear the gospel and respond.

    Personally I think we need to stop being so sure that "church attendance numbers" equals "true converts".
     
  18. Tom Butler

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    Bapmom, we think alike on a lot of things.
    You said:
    For instance? I take it not a baptism goal. Do you mean a goal of witnessing to X number of people per day, per week, that sort of thing?

    I think you've also hit on a flaw in our soul-winning formulas--a forgetfulness of the role of the Holy Spirit. We preach conviction, we often practice differently. Is there a point in our witnessing where we simply shut up and wait? That we avoid the compulsion to "draw the net" and leave it to the Holy Spirit?

    Good post.

    Tom B.
     
  19. gb93433

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    Just a few years ago I pastored an SBC church and on one of my earlier Sundays I noticed they posted the attendance and it didn't quite look like there was that many there. So the next two Sundays I counted for myself. I noticed that the numbers the two counters got and what I got was about 20 off. When I questioned the deacon, he told me they added a few otherwise it would like we had gone down from the year ealier. I told him we were going to be hionest and let people ask if they were concerned. Not one person ever asked me about it. The fact is that the church was growing (2.5 times in 2 years) the whole time I was there, but for awhile it looked like it was going down. Simply because a few deacons decided they needed to add some numbers.

    A friend of mine told me that when he goes to preach at a church in view of a call he counts the number of people as they come out the door.
     
  20. gb93433

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    Make that true disciples.
     

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