Thursday, May 12, 2005

SBC deteriorating?

Thom Rainer, dean of the Southern Baptist Convention's Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth in Louisville, Ky., says the denomination is "on the path of slow but discernible deterioration."

In a study to be released later this month by The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology, Rainer says the SBC faces a "evangelistic crisis" - citing consistently falling "baptism rates":

"[O]ne person was baptized for every 19 members of SBC churches in 1950. In 1978, that ratio increased to 36 to 1 and by 2003 -- the number reached 43 to 1...."

Rainer suggests that pastors " repent for their lack of evangelistic zeal."

I grew up in a town dominated by Southern Baptists. So did my wife. In our experiences, which occurred right in the middle of 1978 and 2003, Southern Baptists pastors have extraordinary "evangelistic zeal."

I was not raised a Southern Baptist, but I was indoctrinated merely through attending a couple of church camps. Southern Baptist pastors got about two or three cracks at me, and by the time I was 14, their hellfire and brimstone "evangelistic zeal" had convinced me that I would burn eternally if I did not come down to the altar and "publicly accept Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior." In fact, I was saved twice in junior high. My wife more than twice.

No, if the SBC is indeed declining it is not for lack of evangelistic zeal. It is declining because it has the wrong message. Jesus Christ is about more than saying a magic spell, getting baptised and refraining from pre-marital sex. As more and more Christians realize this, the SBC will continue to decline.

2 Comments:

At 3:00 PM, Blogger DLW said...

I lived in TX from age 3 to 9 and went to an independent Bible church that was somewhat similar to a Baptist church.

I know what you're talking about and am in prayer for some of my old friends from TX who have seen their faith flag over their culturally captivated form of religion, where going to church is just being social.

y'all might wanna pass along my notes I took from the conference on Ron Sider's book, the Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience. The links are at the bottom of my birthday post.
dlw

 
At 9:12 AM, Anonymous jen said...

I'll tell ya why the SBC is declining, because it's easier to be bad than it is to be good. With America so tuned in to TV, media, technology, celebrities, money, "keeping up with the Jones'", why would anyone want to go to church where hypocrites congregate. It's easier just to stay home. Those SBC guys are all old and out-dated anyway.
Are there any churches or denominations that are flourishing?

 

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