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Southern Baptists Experiencing Accelerating Decline in Membership
Christian Post ^ | 06/13/2012 | Lillian Kwon

Posted on 06/14/2012 8:42:52 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

Membership in the Southern Baptist Convention dropped again over the last year, according to a new report. The largest Protestant denomination in the country now counts less than 16 million members.

This marks the fifth straight year the SBC has lost members. Primary worship attendance has also dropped by 0.65 percent to around 6.16 million.

One Southern Baptist and researcher lamented that the denomination is not only experiencing decline but an acceleration of decline.

Compared to a 0.15 percent drop from 2009 to 2010, membership fell by 0.98 percent from 2010 to 2011.

"Based on the trend of annual percent change in SBC total membership, we are catching up with the Methodists, and will match their decline rate consistently by 2018," said Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, in his blog. "This trend points to a future of more and faster decline -- and it is a 60-year trend."

The Annual Church Profile, compiled by LifeWay Christian Resources, was released Tuesday ahead of the SBC's annual meeting in New Orleans. Thousands of SBC messengers, or delegates, will be converging on June 19 to fellowship, discuss resolutions, and elect new leaders. Perhaps the most anticipated event of the two-day meeting will be the likely election of an African-American as president for the first time in SBC history.

After decades of continuous growth, the SBC, established in 1845, began to see its membership plateau around 2004 as baptisms were on a slow decline. The denomination reported a drop in membership for the first time in many years in 2007. At that time, some predicted the decline would continue.

After reporting its lowest number of baptisms in decades in 2010, the SBC saw an increase in baptisms in 2011.

According to the report, baptisms increased by 0.70 percent to 333,341.

Celebrating the higher number of baptisms, Thom S. Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay, said in a statement, "God's Word is being proclaimed and God's Spirit is continuing to move in the hearts of people, drawing them to repentance. This is something that should excite us as Christians who care about the Great Commission."

The SBC also added 37 more churches and now counts 45,764 churches. Still, the increase in churches is small compared to previous years, Rainer pointed out.

Despite a little uptick in a few areas, looking at the math, Stetzer says the trend is clear and the SBC needs to "stare reality in the face and fight for our future" rather than merely manage decline like many of the other Protestant denominations.


TOPICS: Current Events; Evangelical Christian; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: baptist; southernbaptist
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1 posted on 06/14/2012 8:42:59 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

According to revelation, there seems to be both a falling away and a revival in the end.

I now live in “babdis” territory and even attend one regularly. However, nobody has even asked me to join. A friend pastored at one for a year or so and they kicked him out. He said that some members that had been going there for decades could not tell you the difference between the old and new testament. He was trying to rectify that and the “old families” would have no part of it.


2 posted on 06/14/2012 8:47:38 AM PDT by cuban leaf (Were doomed! Details at eleven.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Christianity is not about numbers. It is about a relationship with your creator, with your relationship with your fellow man coming in a distant second.


3 posted on 06/14/2012 8:49:11 AM PDT by cuban leaf (Were doomed! Details at eleven.)
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To: SeekAndFind

This is all the goal of the Progressives in power across the world. Remove the insistence upon salvation from God and attempt to improve the dependence on the government.

As socialism and communism march across most of the world, the people of the world become wards of their respective states and demand all of their fulfillment from the “mother teat.” When the mother teat attempts to pull away, they dig in their teeth and latch on.

We can’t pull off the leeches without drawing some blood, and when the people are forced back on the street with no hope for help from their precious government, then and ONLY then will the pews fill again.


4 posted on 06/14/2012 8:50:18 AM PDT by rarestia (It's time to water the Tree of Liberty.)
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To: SeekAndFind
Perhaps even more Madison Avenue-style marketing campaigns will work. /sarc
5 posted on 06/14/2012 8:51:33 AM PDT by fwdude ( You cannot compromise with that which you must defeat.)
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To: SeekAndFind
Any idea if the SBC is really losing members or they are just rebranding themselves into Evangelical megachurches? The biggest megachurch in our area preaches a message so similar to the SBC, you'd swear they were one and the same. I'm guessing SW Pennsylvania yankees just don't like being identified as southerners.

Also, hasn't the SBC been largely successful in not following the PC trendy feel good crap (gay marriage, social justice, queering the clergy, etc.) which has decimated big mainline denominations like the Methodists, ELCA, etc.?

6 posted on 06/14/2012 8:54:01 AM PDT by Vigilanteman (Obama: Fake black man. Fake Messiah. Fake American. How many fakes can you fit in one Zer0?)
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To: Vigilanteman

You may have just hit the nail on the head. Hopefully it’s just a purging.


7 posted on 06/14/2012 9:04:11 AM PDT by Coldwater Creek (He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty Psalm 91:)
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To: SeekAndFind; F15Eagle; .45 Long Colt; Buddygirl; Former Fetus; Bockscar; Graybeard58; JLLH; ...

Baptist ping


8 posted on 06/14/2012 9:04:11 AM PDT by WKB (There are too many coincidences in this world...... for this world to be a coincidence.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Could it be that many of those former Baptists decided to “swim the Tiber” to join the ORIGINAL mega church, the RC Church?


9 posted on 06/14/2012 9:06:20 AM PDT by Biggirl ("Jesus talked to us as individuals"-Jim Vicevich/Thanks JimV!)
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To: SeekAndFind

Clearly they have not adopted the Democrat platform fast enough. /s


10 posted on 06/14/2012 9:06:34 AM PDT by Norm Lenhart
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To: rarestia

Pulling back has begun, starting last week in WI.


11 posted on 06/14/2012 9:08:10 AM PDT by Biggirl ("Jesus talked to us as individuals"-Jim Vicevich/Thanks JimV!)
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To: Vigilanteman

A lot of Baptists have joined mega-churches. That’s not for me, too much socializing and too little gospel preaching in my experience.

However, the SBC is and organization that can grorw or shrink.

Best shrinkage it ever did was when Jimmy left it.


12 posted on 06/14/2012 9:08:10 AM PDT by chesley (God's chosen intrument - the trumpet)
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To: Vigilanteman
Pretty much all over the country, overall Christianity is holding steady. But as megachurches grow, smaller churches shrink.

Some church planting is going on, but it seems the real growth from these planted churches is to "satelite" churches of the megachurches.

Now where I think REAL growth is happening, but is undocumented, and more just my opinion, but is in home churches. I know some people are really getting tired of the megachurch scene, and want family like fellowship. Families, similar to the Duggars, that home school and want to control the environment that their family is raised in, are growing.

13 posted on 06/14/2012 9:14:03 AM PDT by mountn man (Happiness is not a destination, its a way of life.)
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To: WKB
We always get these hit pieces Convention week. My grandson and the Sounds of Liberty will be performing at the SB convention in New Orleans.
14 posted on 06/14/2012 9:16:30 AM PDT by Coldwater Creek (He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty Psalm 91:)
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To: SeekAndFind

There are sevreal problems in the church.

There are those “troublemakers” who have purchased influence from their money and many years of service to the church.

There is also the issue of pastors are not talking about the issues of today. About gender selection abortions, the lack of morals in Government leadership, spending this country into oblivion, etc.

Our church has been without a head pastor for a year because the search is bogged down by committees for this and that, etc.

Our weekly attendance is about half of what it was a year ago.

Only 63 families tithe regularly ... out of a congregation of 700.

I could go on, but am getting depressed.


15 posted on 06/14/2012 9:16:36 AM PDT by fellowgeek (To geek or not to geek.)
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To: chesley
I'm not big on megachurches for much the same reason as you. But they do put on awesome programs for Easter, Christmas and other Christian holidays.

I'll go for the pageantry just for a change of scenery. But my ideal church would be 8 or 10 people gathering in a living room or, better yet, around a campfire up in the mountains.

No knock on megachurches. They are a far better alternative than these hollowed out mainline sects who preach a PC social justice gospel. They just don't happen to be my cup of tea.

16 posted on 06/14/2012 9:19:09 AM PDT by Vigilanteman (Obama: Fake black man. Fake Messiah. Fake American. How many fakes can you fit in one Zer0?)
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To: SeekAndFind

Interesting.

My wife and I were “members” of a different baptist denomination for 20 years then we moved and started attending a baptist church closer to our new home. We have been there 5 years and attend faithfully and volunteer in many different areas but have not yet “joined” in an official “membership” capacity.

This is interesting as our former church often talked about “membership” and how the younger generation wasn’t really into “membership” but for the most part attend regularly and participated in all the volunteer opportunities that “non-members” could and many wished they could also participate in “members only” opportunities.

I understand the “church discipline” aspect in relation to members/non-members so it is a fine line that churches are walking in order to engage younger “non-member” minded folks.

I agree that a lot of these non-members are very faithful God-fearing people with a deep knowledge of scripture. On the other hand there are “members” that view their church membership as another club like the Elks or other community organization.


17 posted on 06/14/2012 9:20:07 AM PDT by copaliscrossing (Progressives are Socialists)
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To: cuban leaf

AMEN to that. It is not about numbers.


18 posted on 06/14/2012 9:21:53 AM PDT by Biggirl ("Jesus talked to us as individuals"-Jim Vicevich/Thanks JimV!)
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To: SeekAndFind
Membership in the Southern Baptist Convention dropped again over the last year, according to a new report. The largest Protestant denomination in the country now counts less than 16 million members.

This marks the fifth straight year the SBC has lost members. Primary worship attendance has also dropped by 0.65 percent to around 6.16 million.

My question is, is this a genuine loss, or are some SBC congregations cleaning the "never shows" out of the rolls?

I know some in the SBC have expressed concern about over inflated membership numbers -- folks are counted as members who walked the aisle, got dunked in the name of the triune God, and (heedless of the dire imagery of baptism) never darken the door of the local church again. The "shallow soil" folks.

19 posted on 06/14/2012 9:21:53 AM PDT by Lee N. Field ("And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise" Gal 3:29)
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To: SeekAndFind

I’ll bet it’s the relatively liberal congregations that are declining. That would be in concert with the rest of American Protestantism. In 20 years there will be two kinds of Protestants remaining: Evangelical Protestants and Dead And Gone Protestants.


20 posted on 06/14/2012 9:32:20 AM PDT by cookcounty ("We're all born idiots, and we only get over that condition as we get less young." -J Goldberg)
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To: Vigilanteman

To a certain extent, I agree with you.

But some of the people that I have know seem to consider the church as more of a social club, and are not very deep, theologically.

Well, that’s OK. I’m no more than a dabbler, myself. But at least I am interested in doctrine.

Still, there are a lot of them out there, and smaller churches have some of the same problems, just not the resources to make it so gaudily obvious.

Still, in the end, neither you nor I can judge, but Christ.


21 posted on 06/14/2012 9:34:49 AM PDT by chesley (God's chosen instrument - the trumpet)
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To: cuban leaf
some members that had been going there for decades could not tell you the difference between the old and new testament.

I haven't seen ignorance on that scale in our church but we have two members who call themselves, "lay preachers" and their ignorance sometimes astounds me. They don't "preach" in our church but there are Pastors in the area that have them fill in for them occasionally.

One of the two has a license to preach. Which is a huge joke and he doesn't even realize it. I understand these "licenses" are available on line for a small fee or one could just print his own, even cheaper.

22 posted on 06/14/2012 9:42:46 AM PDT by Graybeard58 (Obama versus Romney? Cyanide versus arsenic.)
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To: Lee N. Field

You have a valid question, but I’ve been an “official” Southern Baptist (member of SBC churches) for over 40 years, and there is a tried and true practice of NEVER purging the rolls...

Seems as soon as you do, Sunday School attendance begins to drop. Nobody can figure it out, but that’s what they say. Maybe it’s not even true, but nonetheless, any time somebody wants to “clean up” the membership list, it meets a lot of resistance.

Many times, people would rather go to a “feel good” church where sin is not preached, and God’s love is the only part of his character ever mentioned. Yes, He is a loving God, but also, He is a JUST God, and hates sin.

The SBC is a lot more conservative, and many (not all) SBC Pastors still talk about sin and the blood of Christ, and a lot of folks don’t want to hear that people will go to hell if they refuse Jesus. So, they head for a feel good church.


23 posted on 06/14/2012 9:43:12 AM PDT by HeadOn (With my last breath, I will pull the lever against the liberals. NEVER GIVE UP.)
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To: Lee N. Field

We call them Chreasters. They only show up for two weekends a year yet they are on the membership roll. I blame it on the new form of Baal worship which I call “Ball Worship.” Either their pro team has a game at noon or they are taking their children to tournaments to play club or “select” baseball, soccer, volleyball, basketball, cheer, drill team, etc. You cannot serve two masters.


24 posted on 06/14/2012 9:47:18 AM PDT by crusty old prospector
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To: fellowgeek
Only 63 families tithe regularly ... out of a congregation of 700.

Are you the church treasurer that you have that information handy? I'm a trustee and I don't have that kind of information nor do I want it. Our Pastor doesn't know that either because he doesn't want to know.

25 posted on 06/14/2012 9:48:46 AM PDT by Graybeard58 (Obama versus Romney? Cyanide versus arsenic.)
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To: crusty old prospector
My 12 year old son couldn't join a Hockey team because they play on Sunday mornings. I believe this is an intentional effort on the part of organizers to keep kids out of church.
26 posted on 06/14/2012 9:54:35 AM PDT by Graybeard58 (Obama versus Romney? Cyanide versus arsenic.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Dick Land to the courtesy phone. (It’s about your new push to be leftish.)


27 posted on 06/14/2012 10:01:43 AM PDT by dangus
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To: SeekAndFind

The SBC is not a monolith; it is a conglomeration. Under the big umbrella you’ve got reformers, liberals, moderates, social clubs, old-style traditional, rockin’ contemporary, megachurches, tiny churches, storefront churches.

If they’re losing numbers, there are probably many reasons.
The true sheep who belong to Christ are still functioning, wherever they are.


28 posted on 06/14/2012 10:02:22 AM PDT by lurk
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To: Vigilanteman; Coldwater Creek

My guess is that it isn’t so much that churches are leaving, but that new congregations that once might have called themselves “Southern Baptist” are now declining to brand themselves.

At the same time, I’m very concerned (full disclosure: I’m Catholic) that Dick Land is trying to make the SBC align itself a little more with the Democratic Party, on issues like environmentalism, immigration, and Islamic relations.

(Don’t get me wrong, I’d still rather Dick Land’s politics than the aging hippie crap that I have to put up with from Northeastern Catholic priests, but then they’re in the northeast, where the Northern (now, “American” or “First”) Baptists aren’t even remotely Christian, let alone politically conservative.)


29 posted on 06/14/2012 10:12:43 AM PDT by dangus
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To: cuban leaf
He said that some members that had been going there for decades could not tell you the difference between the old and new testament. He was trying to rectify that and the “old families” would have no part of it.

In my experience there is a remnant in every denomination, a remnant in every church.

Next time you go to church join me in the ministry of dumb questions and ask people what they remember about the sermon or what caught their attention in reading the Bible this past week.

Now the good news is “judge not lest ye be judged.” Because you ask these dumb question, you better be prepared to respond.

30 posted on 06/14/2012 10:13:11 AM PDT by PeterPrinciple ( (Lord, save me from some conservatives, they don't understand history any better than liberals.))
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To: SeekAndFind

Perhaps the most anticipated event of the two-day meeting will be the likely election of an African-American as president for the first time in SBC history.

This is being done for PC purposes. All Christian churches are going the PC route. Every Christian preacher should be screaming from the pulpit about what’s going on D.C.


31 posted on 06/14/2012 10:20:21 AM PDT by Terry Mross ("It happened. And we let it happen." - Peter Grifin, FAMILY GUY)
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To: mountn man
Now where I think REAL growth is happening, but is undocumented, and more just my opinion, but is in home churches. I know some people are really getting tired of the megachurch scene, and want family like fellowship.

I appreciate the observation. My eyes and ears are telling me most churches are social clubs. Wife and I decided to stop going to the club for awhile and get back to basics on our own.
32 posted on 06/14/2012 10:20:25 AM PDT by PeterPrinciple ( (Lord, save me from some conservatives, they don't understand history any better than liberals.))
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To: Biggirl

Unlikely, Southern Baptists are very conservative.


33 posted on 06/14/2012 10:21:31 AM PDT by ansel12 (Massachusetts Governors, where the GOP now goes for it's Presidential candidates.)
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To: rarestia

“We can’t pull off the leeches without drawing some blood, and when the people are forced back on the street with no hope for help from their precious government, then and ONLY then will the pews fill again.”

Well said.


34 posted on 06/14/2012 10:24:36 AM PDT by MichaelCorleone (The GOPe has played us like a violin for the last time; high time to build the Constitution Party.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Could be because of their actions!
One example...a mother/member volunteered for nursery duty; no children showed except her 3 year old. So she took her child to the sanctuary to be with her husband and older children. When the 3 yo made a noise (not a very loud noise!), they were asked to leave. Keep in mind this was a Christian family of 5 and members of the church!
Just saying...


35 posted on 06/14/2012 10:29:02 AM PDT by EverRight
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To: Vigilanteman

RE: Any idea if the SBC is really losing members or they are just rebranding themselves into Evangelical megachurches? The biggest megachurch in our area preaches a message so similar to the SBC, you’d swear they were one and the same. I’m guessing SW Pennsylvania yankees just don’t like being identified as southerners.

________________________________

Well, here in Long Island, I know of a church that used to be named MANHASSET BAPTIST CHURCH. A few years ago ( Under the same Pastor and the same board mind you ), they renamed themselves SHELTER ROCK CHURCH.

Exactly the same Pastor, the same gospel, the same creedal statement, the same members, the same worship style, the same message.

If conditions such as this is considered “losing” Baptist members, I’m not sure if it is something to worry over.


36 posted on 06/14/2012 10:34:33 AM PDT by SeekAndFind (bOTRT)
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To: Biggirl

RE: Could it be that many of those former Baptists decided to “swim the Tiber” to join the ORIGINAL mega church, the RC Church?

Same question can be asked as well — how man former members of the RC church have swam to the other side of the Tiber?

If a sheep goes from pasture A to pasture B but these pastures are owned by the same Master Shepherd, should we worry over the sheep?


37 posted on 06/14/2012 10:37:12 AM PDT by SeekAndFind (bOTRT)
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To: PeterPrinciple

—Because you ask these dumb question, you better be prepared to respond.—

I’m the king of “dumb” questions. I can’t tell you how many times, both in College and public school, as well as Sunday school, how often I would ask a “dumb” question and afterward people would come up to me and thank me for asking the question. I guess it’s because I have no ego about it. I’ve asked some pretty dumb questions from time to time. But usually they turn out to be not so dumb after all. ;-)


38 posted on 06/14/2012 10:45:18 AM PDT by cuban leaf (Were doomed! Details at eleven.)
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To: HeadOn
The SBC is a lot more conservative, and many (not all) SBC Pastors still talk about sin and the blood of Christ, and a lot of folks don’t want to hear that people will go to hell if they refuse Jesus. So, they head for a feel good church.

This is my fear. That Christ's work of redemption is no longer preached regularly and too many just want to hear pop music then have their ears tickled. I don't think an "altar call" is necessary each and every week but it ought to be at least once a month and the Lord's Supper should also be shared at least once a month with it's emphasis on Christ's sacrifice.

Christianity is exploding in parts of Asia and Africa. Many had never heard about Christ and He is being received openly in many areas where it was once forbidden. I sometimes wonder if God is preparing us for the final days when men of every race and culture will bow and confess Christ while many in Europe and North America who thought they knew Christ get left behind.

39 posted on 06/14/2012 10:53:10 AM PDT by OrangeHoof (Our economy won't heal until one particular black man is unemployed.)
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To: Graybeard58

Hey Graybeard58:

We have a committee that put together a treasury report because our church is trying to be more responsible with debt ... and they are not in a good place right now. Giving is down, AC went out, etc.

Anyway, in the report, they stated that only 63 families out of congregation tithe. Of course no names were given, but we know who ONE of those families is ...


40 posted on 06/14/2012 10:54:46 AM PDT by fellowgeek (To geek or not to geek.)
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To: cuban leaf

Love God, and
Love your neighbor as yourself.

Given that our neighbors are made in His image, I wouldn’t put the “love your neighbor” very far into the distance. Besides, the relationship with your fellow man is where the rubber hits the road. The hard part of maintaining your relationship with the Creator is playing nicely with His other children.


41 posted on 06/14/2012 11:01:50 AM PDT by married21 (As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.)
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To: OrangeHoof
This is my fear. That Christ's work of redemption is no longer preached regularly and too many just want to hear pop music then have their ears tickled.

Ann Barnhardt refers to this as "Superfun Rockband Church".

42 posted on 06/14/2012 11:04:14 AM PDT by Marathoner (If the choice was Obama vs. Satan I'd have to flip a coin.)
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To: fellowgeek
There is also the issue of pastors are not talking about the issues of today. About gender selection abortions, the lack of morals in Government leadership, spending this country into oblivion, etc.

I think that's a big part of the problem. If the leadership of the church is willing to temper the message of the church in the interest of being noncontroversial and seeker sensitive the leadership needs to read more of the New Testament particularly a certain bit about being lukewarm.

As for the SBC I wonder if the loss of Adrian Rogers could have been the start of the slide.

43 posted on 06/14/2012 11:04:30 AM PDT by Cowman (How can the IRS seize property without a warrant if the 4th amendment still stands?)
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To: dangus
Sometimes Dr. Land comes across that way, and I have called him on it personally. His ansewers satisfied me.
44 posted on 06/14/2012 11:19:01 AM PDT by Coldwater Creek (He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty Psalm 91:)
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To: married21

I actually believe the bible is about only two things: Man’s relationship with God and man’s relationship with his fellow man, who is made in God’s image.


45 posted on 06/14/2012 11:27:48 AM PDT by cuban leaf (Were doomed! Details at eleven.)
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To: cuban leaf

The Southern Baptist churches are segregated by race. Is this falling away from the white churches, the black churches or both/


46 posted on 06/14/2012 12:14:43 PM PDT by SaraJohnson
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To: Biggirl
Could it be that many of those former Baptists decided to “swim the Tiber” to join the ORIGINAL mega church, the RC Church?

Not if they were genuinely saved.
47 posted on 06/14/2012 1:10:37 PM PDT by crosshairs
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To: HeadOn
Many times, people would rather go to a “feel good” church where sin is not preached, and God’s love is the only part of his character ever mentioned. Yes, He is a loving God, but also, He is a JUST God, and hates sin.

Yep. 'Zactly.
48 posted on 06/14/2012 1:14:03 PM PDT by crosshairs
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To: SaraJohnson

Where do you live, Sara? I’m here in Tennessee, and I don’t see that “Southern Baptists” are segregated by race, at least not by design - I hope you didn’t mean that as an insult...

Our church has several black members, and some hispanic ones. There is no ethnic entrance requirement. But, you are correct, most Southern Baptist churches I know of are predominantly white.

And, I will agree that Sunday is probably the most segregated day of the week. But it’s not because I’m not welcome at their church, or they at mine. There are some doctrinal and traditional differences in how we worship, and we all choose to go where we believe like the other congregants. Most of the black churches in this area are not Southern Baptist, but many are other types of Baptists. Missionary Baptist (M.B.) churches in this area are common and are quite often predominantly black.

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Son of God is welcome to attend our Southern Baptist church. And we would LOVE to have those who don’t believe that to attend as well, so they can learn... :^)


49 posted on 06/14/2012 2:19:37 PM PDT by HeadOn (With my last breath, I will pull the lever against the liberals. NEVER GIVE UP.)
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To: Graybeard58

I think you are correct. There’s been a general movement that Sunday is family day, not God’s day. That and five plus generations of government schooling training kids that God is wrong.


50 posted on 06/14/2012 5:49:32 PM PDT by 1010RD (First, Do No Harm)
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