Again. From Decline to Decision

A few moments ago our communication department released two stories, one of analysis and one of commentary. I have posted the analysis over at my EdStetzer.com blog. Here is the commentary:

It is time for the Southern Baptist Convention to move from denial to decision.

It has happened again. The SBC reported membership has declined, again. And, baptisms are at their lowest level in 60 years

I remember the first time the membership declined, just a few years ago. I pointed out (based on Cliff Tharp’s data, LifeWay’s now-retired statistician) that it was not an aberration, but a pattern. The 50-year membership trend was moving into negative territory.

“Put simply,” I wrote in April 2008, “membership may go up next year, but the trend points to the negative. It probably won’t go up. But, even if it does, I believe we will have more declining than growing years over the next decade. Unless the trend changes, membership has peaked.”

How did we respond? I remember how strongly these observations were denied. A segment of the SBC seemed to think closing our eyes or disputing the data would change our reality.

In 2008, we were again faced with the data of a continuing trend. I noted then, “Today we are facing a set of numbers to which we are not accustomed…This year, I believe that our tipping point continues to tip. Unless things change, we are about to enter a time when we grow accustomed to decline and think back to the good ol’ days of growth.”

Following that report there was a little less denial. Actually, more spoke up. Chuck Kelley, president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, warned that Southern Baptists are in danger of entering a deep decline with all the accompanying problems.

Subsequently, the data for 2009 revealed no reversal.

Now, we can see four years in a row of statistics confirming a long-term trend of membership decline in the SBC. It is what it is.

It is time for the SBC to move from denial to decision. I am only echoing what others have said before: It is time for change in the SBC. But change, just for the sake of change, is not enough. We must ask, “What kind of change do we need?”

For me, as a missiologist and denominational servant, change needs to come in several places.

A need for Missio Dei

First, we need a renewed passion for churches to live on mission. We need to see the church not simply as an institution but as an agent of God’s kingdom-mission. Increasingly, people must recognize the church is a missionary body with a divine call to be a sign and instrument of God’s kingdom. In short, God is a sending God and we are a sent people.

A need for diversity

Second, we need a greater emphasis on ethnic diversity. We’ve been so Southern and so white for so long that the annual meetings look like a loaf of Wonder bread. Our ideas of “reaching out” are less impressive than striving to create an intentionally multicultural family that reflects the population of heaven. Simply put, denominations will not embrace ethnic leaders without a plan and strategy to do so. The Executive Committee is pressing in on this issue, and it is about time.

A need for a new generation

Third, we must have a plan to raise up a new generation, not just of leaders, but young people throughout the SBC. The oldest generation may indeed be the “Greatest,” but it must not be our last. The SBC will not last forever based solely on the presence of its elder statesmen and women. Mentoring, where the younger learns from the elder, and reverse mentoring, where the elder learns from the younger, creates the kind of dynamics that perpetuate an effective denomination without the bloodletting of civil war.

A need for a renewal in church planting

Finally, we need more new churches in our convention. I’m thankful for the efforts of Kevin Ezell and the team at the North American Mission Board, as they are taking bold steps to refocus on church planting. Even in the Bible Belt there are large segments of people who have not been and are not being reached with the gospel. In our large cities one could surmise that so much “urban blight” is the result of a spiritual vacuum. In the lesser-evangelized parts of our own country are people who have been insulated from the gospel in the most gospel-saturated society in history. Only a vast movement of church planting across North American will see these people reached with the message of Jesus Christ.

Telling the truth has been controversial in SBC life. But facts are still our friends. The fact is, our denomination is struggling and needs to change. Yet, it is not the denomination that is “great,” rather, it is that a denomination is a family of great churches. I love those churches and pray God will use them to advance His name and His fame. The denomination is the tool the churches use to accomplish the God given goal.

When will change come? I don’t know. Some will keep going as before – considering slow decline as acceptable as long as they can keep doing church in a way they have grown to prefer. Some are content to successfully manage decline. Yet, for others, knowing that 2010 saw the fewest number of new believers going through the baptismal waters since Eisenhower was president will break their hearts. They will weep for the lost.

We don’t change until the pain of staying the same grows greater than the pain of change. May the truth break our hearts, drive us to our knees, and compel us into the mission.

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  36Comments

  1. Brian Dodd   •  

    Ed,

    I love your writings and this is a good list. However, you didn’t mention that many established SBC churches simply need to change the format of their services. Perhaps that is assumed or embedded in reaching the next generation.

    For my comments on the subject, read Southern Baptist Churches In Decline! But Why? http://wp.me/pVReH-1e3.

    We must reverse the trend.

    Thanks,
    Brian

  2. Whitney C   •  

    I feel a little strange commenting because I am far of being as theologically eloquent in my writing as the writers and many commenters of the blog are. And yet I felt compelled to share our story. For three years after we moved from Wake Forest we stayed members of a church because it was Southern Baptist. But that was it. The only thing that kept us there was because they were Southern Baptist. We thought the church would be a place where we could grow spiritually. The pastor is on the Board of Trustees at SEBTS. Several SEBTS professors came to preach from the pulpit. But the teaching was shallow. The church was an inch deep and a mile wide. We longed for exegetical preaching and teaching. Deep theological teaching we could sink our teeth in and grow spiritually in our walk with the Lord. Unfortunately we couldn’t find that in local SBC churches. But thankfully the Lord led us to a nondenominational church that is theologically the same as the SB. Reading their doctrinal statements and comparing them to SB doctrinal statements, I couldn’t find any difference except for the denomination.

  3. Bob Cleveland   •  

    As long as churches are paying their bills, I don’t expect change.

    As long as we can still claim 16+ million members with a straight face, I don’t expect change.

    Plain fact: God has, indeed, sent us 16 million members, but we’re hard pressed to find much over 5 million of them on Sunday (I know attendance is about 6 million, but that includes children and visitors). So I ask once again, why would God want to send more people to us?

    IMO, the great failure it in making disciples. Until the SBC admits it, I’d expect same old-same old.

  4. Patrick Mitchell   •  

    Ed, your desire to see the kingdom expand via the SBC is evident. As one who grew up SBC and has been out for some time now, I get the itch to come back but am discouraged when I hear and see issues that are made utmost by some in the SBC. I think a lot of younger guys (and ladies) who grew up SBC are in the same boat.

    I pray God will do some soul stirring for those content to manage decline.

  5. Ed Stetzer   •     Author

    Brian,

    Thanks for the link.

    Whitney,

    I thought it a bit funny that you criticized an SEBTS trustee and faculty on this SEBTS blog, particularly since this is a blog post about the SBC and you were wanting “deep theological teaching,” and “spiritually in our walk with the Lord.” But, that’s just my odd read on things, I guess.

    Bob,

    I find it hard to dispute those realities.

    Patrick,

    Don’t get too discouraged. I think God is working in and through the SBC.

    But, for now, it’s the weekend and I am off to be with my family and do some outreach tomorrow!

    God bless,

    Ed

  6. Andrew   •  

    @Brian and @Ed:

    Generational transition is difficult…and I think we need more than just a “new kind of flash” to draw people. May I recommend my friend’s blog post asking questions about each generation’s responsibility to continue the mission? http://4pointlessons.wordpress.com/2011/06/09/prophets-thursday-joshua-11-5/

    I think we all agree that revitalization and slowing/stopping decline really depends on the Spirit’s work in our people and leadership.

  7. Jeremy Diaz   •  

    As a person who attended a SBC church both before and after I got saved and then switched to a nondenominational church I can say that I think one thing that has hurt the SBC is their reluctancy to embrace the modern charismatic movement. I don’t think the answer is for the SBC to become pentecostal, but a few years ago when the IMB said they didn’t want missionaries who spoke in tongues I was deeply saddened. Baptist people must become more in tune with what the scripture says about the gifts and about what the Spirit is doing in the Earth. I don’t think it’s coincidence that pentecostalism is the fastest growing stream of Christianity because they have embraced the gifts that God has given us to help make Jesus famous in the world. I know this may not be a popular response here but this is something that needs to be looked at.

  8. David   •  

    I am not a pessimist, but realist, unfortunately we, SBC had place anthropology and and our American theology as the map to growth our convention and to do missions in and out of the country.
    – A need for Mission Dei? You mean continue doing touristic evangelism?
    – A need for diversity? You mean continue racially diving our “evangelistic” and “missional” efforts? don’t believe me? take a look at how IMB’s new strategy has divided the whole world based on “affinities”.
    – New generation? New generation and structures? really?
    – Church Planting? We have been emphasizing CP for years now! so basically keep on doing the same thing and expect different results?

    I really do not know what is going to happen but I do not think looks good. I apologize for my pessimism.

  9. hope hammond   •  

    I would like to add to the discussion of diversity. In my relationships with Southern Baptists, I am saddened when I and other women and our giftings aren’t accepted by them. Women were very important to Jesus and to spreading the gospel in the early church, yet today we are relegated to minimal ministry roles. But God has given women leadership abilities, creative abilities, and relational abilities that would greatly benefit the SBC and the church as a whole. Though I’m not trying to get a debate started about gender in the church, I just wish religious people would understand that women, too, were made in God’s image. We have a lot to offer, and many of us are leaders. Leaders go where they are needed and their gifts appreciated. And I know some women are starting to leave the church and lend their abilities to the secular world where they are better received. We need to work together and appreciate what each of us brings to the table whether we are male, female, black, white, latin, asian, whatever. Good article.

  10. Robert   •  

    Good stuff here, like usual.

    I love the missions, particularly international, of the SBC. CP is brilliant. But we don’t support anything else denominationally.

    Here’s the thing, we’ve lost an entire generation of young people. (Yes I know we can parade out our happy few bright shining stars as an attempted reply) If you’re under the age of 35 you’re 95% likely to have had or are having unbiblical relationships. The age segmentation under 35 that doesn’t attend, or ever will seriously attend church is dramatically higher than those who do. Silently and broadly the youngest generations, many of who were raised in our churches, have left and will not return. Marriage doesn’t mean what it used and (according to the Census) if you’re under 40 you’re more likely to not be married than married. College campuses are driving young people away not because of intellectual objection but the moral destruction of their upbrining.

    Until we start realizing we need to be crisis mode now and change our entire approach we have lost. We live in a post-denominational, post-Christian culture and the SBC will be hard pressed to continue their legacy. The fastest growing churches reaching the younger generations are mostly non-denominational and have a ministry model that prioritizes breaking down barriers to speak the Gospel. We need honest conversations and a broad movement of the Holy Spirit to reform us first.

    More honest conversations like this hopefully will help.

  11. Matt   •  

    Our mission has shifted from making disciples to programming to meet the needs of the sheep. We may call ourselves evangelistic but in reality, the majority of Southern Baptists never share their faith or disciple anyone. Until we become convicted that we are off mission, I don’t expect this decline to change! We must focus on making disciples that understand their mission is to reproduce!

  12. lewrie Harmon   •  

    As an owner and manager of a business in the city in which I live I took a pole of the local pastors who visited the business. Over a two year period I asked this question to about fifty pastors of churches of various denominations most being SBC churches, “In the past year, outside of your captive audience on Sundays have you led someone to Christ and discipled them?” And, “are you discipling someone now?” Out of these two answered yes to the first question, and non answered yes to the second.” Also, I see few tears over the lost in the churches I visit. I sense no passion for the lost coming from the pulpits. I sense no agony over the lost in our churches. As I talk with “belivers” where I now work I find NONE who have led anyone to the Lord. I believe we must look inward to the problem. We have many reat pulpiteers but few agonizers. As I invite people to the church I attend I find it unprepared to receive them. We need a visit from Holy God to shake us up into the reality of our God designed purpose. We need revival. But, I remember Miss Bertha Smith saying, “You can’t revive something that has never been “vived.”

  13. Doug   •  

    My frustration (and the frustration communicated to me by the younger generations in my church) is that the SBC is so beholden to church growth models and principles that we seem to have forgotten that it is God who will build His church. Our denominational meetings (at least on the local level), lack a sense of reverence and instead come across as a Amway meeting trying to rally the troops to go out and work harder and more creatively to sell the Gospel. As a church planter who hungers for the preaching of God’s Word for his own spiritual health, I consistenly leave the meetings empty and frustrated and any suggestions from me are shrugged off as the backwards musings of one who comes from a more “Reformed” type of theology rather than from one who has the “evangelical zeal” of the guy who is willing to play the clown and twist the Scriptures in an effort to draw crowds. In the last 6 months, I have been asked by 3 separate pastors who are all baptistic yet unaffiliated, as to the benefits of joining the SBC. I have had to honestly answer “I don’t have a real answer for you.” Having grown up Southern Baptist I would have never guessed that I would have ever answered that way and the thought of my not being SBC makes my heart ache. But, now, with all the various church planting and missions movements out there which clearly put the glory of God first in all that they do, and which are looking for those to join them in their mission, I really don’t know what the point of choosing the SBC would be for a church. This saddens me greatly.

  14. Randy Chestnut   •  

    Thanks for your ministry Ed. When it comes to the Mission Dei and church planting, I think we need to be honest about how we engaging our major cities. I have been a part of a major city-reaching effort, but, much of our (early) church planting was concentrated in the suburbs around the city. The hope was, these church plants would then engage the urban core.
    In a study by LifeWay Research, the majority of our urban church plants are reaching the urban advanaged and not reaching the urban poor and the under-educated. The quick answer is to put more money into the urban plants. But, in the vast majority of instances, this perpetuates a dependence on outside resources that cannot be sustained. We must be more strategic in the use of our resources.
    We do need our boards and agencies to “broaden the tent”, but the issue of diversity can best be settled by being on mission together. I grew up in the urban core and attended a public high school in the 70s during the heighth of the racial tension over busing. There were fights in our school constantly between white students and black students. But the white players and black players on our football team and wrestling team never fought each other. We had other things on our mind, like beating the other team.
    “You will unite, or you will fall,” Elrond of Rivendell. Maybe we need a Council of Elrond (LOTR, Fellowship of the Ring), Oh, that’s right, we have one. It’s called the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting #SBC2011

  15. Chester   •  

    Maybe if evangelicals weren’t intolerant bigots, more people would join? Who wants to join a religion that’s based on bigotry, racism, intolerance, and hypocrisy?

  16. Ed Stetzer   •     Author

    Chester,

    I am guessing you came over from the link at Huffington Post story from this morning. Welcome. We will let your comment represent the many others that might come through but, since that is not the purpose here, we will moderate out.

    Thanks,

    Ed

  17. Richard   •  

    My family has been SB since we were married in 1995, and the things we have seen in that time. Let me say this before I go any father, I don’t believe any church has perfect members, but it has been my sad experience that if you don’t walk and talk a certain way then your salvation with SB can be called into question. It’s funny that in the service we cater to so many, can’t do too many hymns, mostly praise songs because that wins them over, but don’t question the leadership of the church or this will truly offend. There is a joke about a new member being shown around heaven and the person walking in front of one section is told to walk in silence, “you see this is where the SB are and they think they are the only ones here.” I have never gotten used to the idea that we are so prideful and possibly a bit judgmental that we believe we are the only ones who know the way to salvation. We have the reputation of being stiff necked and yet in many of the churches we have visited the service caters to people with all the praise music and youth ministries.

    I have seen a pastor let go because he was too evangelistic for his church members. I have seen a pastor let go because he believed you don’t build a new church on credit. I have been put under attack myself because I fought for a t-ball league to be more of an outreach and not just for church members. I have gone months with no word from our Christian friends as we are at home Sundays with a family member recovering from a major injury. No I don’t walk or talk like a SB, but I have accepted Christ as my savior and I know where I will be when my He calls me home. I also know that my crown will not have all the jewels it could or should have but as a pastor once stated, after I walk through the golden gates and stand before Christ Himself, even with all he might say I have gotten wrong he will never say, “depart from Me I never knew you.”

    Bottom line is this until we see each other in a different light that we currently do there will always be a divide. Maybe if our focus turns from those here on earth and look up to the heavens we will find the answers we are searching for

  18. Whitney C   •  

    Just to clarify, we loved the preaching from the professors. It was those times that we looked forward to because the sermons. I obviously wrote that poorly in my previous comment. We love SEBTS, the faculty, staff, and would love to move back to WF so that my husband could finish his degree. I was simply agreeing with your post. I wish we were still SB and part of the SBC. My deepest desire has always been to serve through the IMB. But we couldn’t grow spiritually and stay at that church. We tried for three years. Maybe we were spoiled with such great teaching from our professors and pastors in WF. They set the bar high. I do apologize for the misunderstanding.

  19. John Lewis   •  

    I am sincerely pleased to see you placing an emphasis on diversity. I might suggest placing this as the 1st priority, not the 4th, and not just targeting ethnic diversity, but diversity more broadly. Inarguably, the denomination has a longstanding reputation for intolerance. I am a former Southern Baptist, actually with some seminary time in Louisville at SBTS (under Dr. Roy Honeycut). When I was there, in the late 80s, the Southern Baptist denominational leadership sadly busied itself with marked theological intolerance. Many dedicated Christians were lost to the denomination at that time. That lost me and my family to the denomination forever. I remain a dedicated Christian, but not a Southern Baptist. Much more importantly, it powerfully reinforced the public at large’s perception that the SB denomination was a hotbed of intolerance. It was tragic to watch at the time, because it was clear to many of us where this would lead the denomination. Blessings in your sincere efforts to turn this around. John Lewis, Winchester, VA

  20. Daniel W   •  

    Chester,

    Your statement strikes me as extremely ironic. What is more bigoted than claiming all evangelicals are racist, intolerant, and hypocritical? You saw in Ed’s blog post above that he, a prominent evangelical, is calling for racial diversity in his church body. You do realize that many black and hispanic churches would consider themselves evangelical, right? Of course some evangelicals act in deplorable ways at times, as do all humans. But how can you accuse all of us of being intolerant bigots? Should evangelicals claim that all Democrats are sex crazed adulterers because of the Bill Clinton and Anthony Weiner sex scandals? Please be more considerate in the future. And consider this: I attend a church that is about 60% white and 40% black. I voted Democrat in the last presidential and congressional elections. I read Huffington Post and that is how I came to this blog. I am an academic in a humanities field, and I am working toward a PhD at a secular state university. Yet here I stand as an evangelical. Praise be to God.

  21. Rick   •  

    We are losing members because most churches won’t call new leaders coming out of the seminaries because they don’t have 3-9 years of Senior pastoral experience. These new leaders may be what our convention needs but they can’t find a ministry. On the SBC.net website I chuckle at how many churches with 1-50 members paying $12,000 a year expect their pastor to have 3 +years of experience.

  22. Ron   •  

    Ed, What do you mean by ‘Moderate out? If not to listen to what people have to say about your denomination, then what is the “purpose here”? I am a former member of a Southern Baptist Church, and also, like Chester, have some issues with the church. We live in a very ‘mixed’ community, yet the vast majority of the members of our local church are white, married, and entirely heterosexual.
    Tollerance for diversity is increasing within our population. Your church has NO tollerance for diversity, therefore, your numbers are declining. It is as simple as that.

  23. Ed Ridge   •  

    Ed, Thanks for the call to prayer, honesty and urgency.
    Blessings
    Ed

  24. Skip Howe   •  

    I left the SBC after getting my M.Div from Southern. The takeover in the mid 1990’s was so mean-spirited and the way women were treated led me to believe that the SBC had lost its way. I am still very involved in church and getting ready to go on a missions trip this summer with a non-denominational church that is growing every year. God will find a way and His plans will not be thwarted.

  25. Ed Stetzer   •     Author

    Ron,

    It looks like you know what “moderate out” means since you object to it. ;-)

    But, flooding this blog with comments with the same theme or complaint from Huffington Post readers is not helpful and does not create dialogue. Yet, Chester commented and people can reply to him. You have commented and people can see that. So, the point is made but it won’t be flooded with the same comment over and over.

    Thanks,

    Ed

  26. Robert   •  

    As a follow up it would be intriguing to see how many of the get generations, having been raised in SBC churches, have left the denomination and now are involved in nondenom churches. I’d bet that is a high percentage.

    Also, as a thought recently there was a great article on USAToday.com about the movement of young families away from the rural areas and into urban and suburban metro areas. The map was amazing. Since the SBC has traditionally been made up if smaller, rural churches with the change in demographics of American society and where people under 40 are living there might be a correlation.

  27. Paul   •  

    I think Robert might be on to something. I currently pastor one of those old, rural churches and the mindset within the church is that of the sixties. It is something else to hear the “great” generation talk to us “Generation Xers.” However, the problem within our old traditional SBC churches is that times have changed not just cultural, but in religious thought. The young people even within our rural community are cordual towards our attempts towards ministry, but they are so pluralistic that the idea of being apart of the SBC community is frown upon. I don’t know what it is that has made us look as being out-dated, but even those who are sensitive-seekers or even true believers are looking for something that doesn’t have a denominational feel to it such as the SBC.

  28. de   •  

    Ed,

    These are good things to bring up. As a lifelong Southern Baptist who now works with Latino college students, I would add to the calls for more diversity. Unfortunately, this will be a painful process, as our lack of diversity is an indication that it is we who need to change.

    Latinos know full well that it was a Southern Baptist deacon who is Governor of Alabama that just signed into law what some have called a new generation of Jim Crow laws. It saddens me to see this happen. When we should be standing with immigrants as Christ would have we take part in discriminating against them.

    I would love to see the SBC become more diverse. That will take powerful leadership, a strong vision, and a willingness on our part as Baptists to admit we need to change. We need to change how we see God, how we function as a denomination, how we interact with each other.

  29. sima   •  

    I am a thirty-three year old African American female. I have been a member of predominately white SBC churches for most of my life. I am an alumna of SEBTS,even had Dr. Stetzer as a visting prof. There have been many times I have also been tempted to leave the SBC, especially when others, the EFCA ,for example, are making ethnic diversity a priority. I believe that this is where God would have me, so I remain, despite the feelings of marginalization and exclusion. I remember weeping with joy as I read the 1995 resolution on racial reconciliation, but now I just wonder if it was “lip service’. Hopefully, the EC will take steps that will seem like more than just “lip service”. This is my desire for the SBC,and Christ’s church as a whole.

    http://vimeo.com/emanatemedia/diversitys-symphony

  30. Louis   •  

    Well, I certainly think that the SBC did the wrong thing when it tried to address issues of theological confessionalism from 1979 to the mid 90s.

    What a disaster!

    Look at all the good Baptists who left.

    The Baptists who left support really solid and thriving theological schools, their programs are amazingly diverse. And they are really effective. They have grown by leaps and bounds.

    NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    The truly ignorant and revisionist history that comes out of some quarters is unbelievable.

    Not every pastor who ever lead a church is a good leader, and not every denominational worker or leader is a good worker or leader.

    However, the Conservative Resurgence at least gave Baptists an orthodox framework for continued cooperative denominational work.

    Without it, the SBC would have essentially become a denomination based on something other than loyalty to Jesus.

    The nondenominational movement is conservative. Many folks have gone there, true.

    And the SBC has its problems, like all religious denominations today.

    But faiing to distinguish between the problems the SBC has and the positive things that were done in the Conservative Resurgence is not excusable.

  31. Ron Hale   •  

    Ed,
    Can you tell us what percentage of congregations actually reported an Annual Church Profile through LifeWay?

    I hope it’s not a trend, but it seems that more and more churches are choosing not to report and some are pretty high profile Pastors within SBC life.

    Thanks!

  32. Terry T   •  

    Ed,
    Thank you. I think you have hit it but if I might add one very important point. It is one that I believe you have addressed in other venues and posts.

    That point is this: as we move forward in the Mission that God has given us, reaching others who don’t look as “southern” as many of us and plant more churches it is critical that we stick to the main thing = the Gospel.

    Though that may seem as something that goes without saying I would suggest that one only needs to listen to Louie Gigglio’s message from the Pastors Conference tonight. He nailed it when he spoke of the need for a clarification of the gospel in our pulpits and pews.

    We must abandon any church growth model that is not gospel centered, Christ exalting and a High view of God (see Piper’s message from today as well). People are leaving us because we are increasingly moralistic. We have bowed down to the idol of pragmatism and felt needs to the point that many have simply said “I can get that on Oprah (or could) and not have to get up so early on Sunday mornings”. The moralistic, therapeutic, deism that pervades most church growth stuff is simply driving others away. So whether the model is a Purpose driven one, a Willow Creek model or something else that is “new and relevant”, they should be jettisoned when not gospel driven. I pray we abandon these man centered models in favor of the Pauline model of the foolishness of proclaiming Christ and Him crucified.

    Thank you for your time,

    Terry T

  33. Chuck   •  

    Are we really that shocked? I mean honestly, are the numbers that shocking or devastating for us? Comments by Chester and Ron say it all. The world wants us to change even if it is just a little bit. I once heard preached by Paul Washer, they want us to say we have “A” Savior and not “THE” Savior. They want us to say we have “A” WAY and not “THE” WAY. Eveyone is calling for change. I am tired of hearing over and over about how we need to be relevant to reach this generation or the next generation. Or, how we have to look for ways to draw people in. What are we doing? Let’s stop looking for methods and the ways of man and let’s start to preach the GOSPEL correctly to every creature.

    Do you think Paul was worried about being relevant? The gospel was considered scandalous during his day and should be no different in our day if preached and evangelized rightly. To men who hate God the Gospel is offensive and intollerant (what a shocker). To the a sinful man who has been convicted by the Holy Spirit and drawn to the Son by the Father, it is the most glorious and wonderful thing they have ever heard and come to know.

    Perhaps our “easy believism” is beginning to catch up with us. Like Washer says, we convert them and then spend 50 years trying to disciple a goat hoping they will turn into a sheep. Instead, let us rely on God converting them. Stop the madness of telling people to “ask Jesus in their heart,” “accepting Jesus”, “recieving Jesus”, “invite him in” and all the other evangelical lingo we have come up with. Stop having people repeat a prayer. Let us start proclaiming the true Gospel, for men, women, and children to REPENT of their sins and BELIEVE upon the Lord Jesus Christ.

    We scratch our heads and wonder, when we see our youth groups, who many claim to be saved when they asked Jesus into their hearts at 7,8, and 9,and then we see what they view on TV and the drunkness that takes place and the pre-marital sex, and instead of questioning their salvation, which is big heresy in our denomination we tell them to start acting like a christian because of that profession they made.

    People are leaving the church and membership is declining not because someone else is doing something better and greater, it is becasue they were never apart of us anyway. Does John not tell us this, this has been happening since the beginning. Didn’t Jesus teach us the most important parable about the sower and the soils. And the sad part is, I have heard Baptist preachers preach that the only one not saved was the seed that fell upon the footpath or the hard soil.

    Whatever has happened to the sovereignty of God? Why have we inserted man doing the converting instead of God? Our problem is we have goats among the sheep, we have tares among the wheat and tares many times are hard to tell apart from the wheat. When is the last time you have saw someone broken over their sin and disgusted by their sin and the been broken over how they have offended a Holy God.

    There is an ol’ Southern Gospel song that probably sums this up the best. Preach, Preacher, Preach it. Sixty-six books from cover to cover. Stop trying to modern it up. Divide the Word rightly and accurately. Preach it correctly in its proper context and to whom it was originally written and its audience and then pull the appropriate application for us.

    We have abandoned all of this. We are so concerned about discipleship but I have heard it once said that don’t the true disciples of Jesus hear his voice and obey his voice???? Many in the church don’t grow because they have never been converted, they are on the rocky soil or in the thorns but trust in what they did as a child, or youth, or maybe as an adult by praying the “sinner’s prayer.”

    It would do everyone well if you watched this amazing teaching on this subject and perhpas if we would return to God and the Biblical Gospel we wouldn’t have to worry about most of the stuff mentioned above. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shxQcczYuAA

  34. Pingback: Missiologically Thinking » Southern Baptist Convention

  35. Mymar   •  

    The So Baptist sound like the Methodist – too many White people, not enough Browns ! Many of us “honkeys” don’t care for Marxism or Bolshevism either, so good luck !

  36. Marry   •  

    this is very intresting, i’ve joined your feed to keep following this site

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