The story is at http://www.abpnews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4177&Itemid=53 LOUISVILLE, Ky. (ABP) -- A younger generation of ministers cannot be expected to support a denominational system that doesn't advance their church's mission, a panel said at a June 23 forum on the future of the Southern Baptist Convention. Church leaders in what has been described as a post-denominational generation who don't normally attend the SBC annual meeting made their way in droves to this year's June 23-24 convention in Louisville, Ky., looking for a place in a religious body viewed by many as preoccupied with doctrinal infighting and out of step with today's culture. Jim Wells, the convention's registration secretary, said this year's registration of 8,790 messengers exceeded last year's Indianapolis crowd by more than 1,500. Wells said an unusually large number were younger than in recent years. "You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know if there is not a generation coming behind you there is no future," SBC President Johnny Hunt said at Tuesday luncheon sponsored by Baptist21, a ministry affirming conservative theology and Southern Baptist heritage while trying to voice a relevant witness in today's culture. Ed Stetzer of LifeWay Research, a department of the SBC publishing arm, said he was encouraged to see so many young faces at this year's annual meeting, a marked contrast to recent years when younger messengers were notably absent in increasingly smaller and aging convention crowds. "I'm encouraged, because in the not-too-distant future the baton will be handed to you and it will be your time to run with it as the older leaders in the SBC," Stetzer said. LifeWay Research projects that if current baptism and membership trends continue, total SBC membership will decline by nearly half -- from 16.2 million to 8.7 million -- by 2050.