Skip to comments.Southern Baptist Decline and God's Bottom Line
Posted on 12/22/2008 7:16:10 PM PST by Alex Murphy
Times are tough, even in the salvation market. After decades of growth, the nation's largest group of Protestants, the Southern Baptist Convention, is reporting losses (in church membership and recorded baptisms) for the third year in a row. Baptisms are at a 20-year low, a figure liable to put an eternity-conscious church into a severe depression.
Cutbacks at Southern Baptist seminaries and agencies are even hitting the denomination's bold, new marketing strategy designed to spread the gospel (and increase the flock) to every soul in North America by 2020. The campaign, called "God's Plan for Sharing" (Yes, GPS), includes a new image media campaign, "We Are Southern Baptists."
But some SBC leaders are concerned that the strategy will fail. The 2009 budget includes zero funding for GPS. "You can't have a vision that doesn't have a funded budget," John Avant, former vice president of evangelization at the mission board, told Bob Smietana of The Tennessean.
Where there is no funded vision, the people perish. It's hard for me to believe there might be a single soul in North America who hasn't heard about Jesus. But I suppose if a church is going to measures its success by cultural standards -- in a market economy, that means statistical gains and losses -- then it's going to look for culturally-appropriate ways to assess its product and improve its market share. But isn't there a more faithful way to measure the church's success?
No doubt there are market forces behind the SBC's declining statistics.
1. The product is less appealing. Southern Baptists still profess the belief in Christ is the only path to salvation. But a new Pew Forum analysis shows that a majority of all American Christians (52%) think at least some non-Christian faiths can lead to
(Excerpt) Read more at newsweek.washingtonpost.com ...
...The market is changing. Nearly all predominantly white Christian denominations (Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Episcopal) in America are seeing a slow but steady decline in membership, a decline that reflects changing U.S. demographics. "This is not about orthodoxy or unorthodoxy or failed methods," Baptist historian Bill Leonard, dean of the Wake Forest School of Divinity in North Carolina, told Peter Smith of the (Louisville) Courier-Journal. "This is about demographics and sociology."
Liberal Protestantism and Liberal Catholicism
"Who can be surprised, then, that the Protestant denominations that have been seriously infected with liberalism (the so-called "mainline churches") are rapidly declining in numbers, not just in relation to the national population generally but even in absolute numbers?"
Yet, independent Baptist churches are growing in leaps and bounds.
I was under the impression that conservative sects were growing (Evangelicals, Baptists, conservative Catholics, & Mormons), while the lefty churches were declining (Episcopalian, Church of Christ, etc).
Yup - they sure are. I attend 1 regularly and another once a week...
I wished I had this kind of preachin’ when I was growin’ up. My Mom says I was cheated - and she’s right. ;-)
I don’t know about other Southern Baptist Churches, but at ours we had more baptisms during 2008 that we had had in the last 5-6 years together! Basically we cut down the gimmicks, put a lot of effort in community outreach programs such as Vacation Bible School, and we prayed.
Sounds like they need a federal bail out.
What is there to explain?
Now ‘social justice’ is spread so far in modern Christianity that the majority think when Jesus said “Feed my sheep”, they think he was commanding soup lines and government welfare.
The article says Baptist church is declining. You say otherwise. I’d like to hear your rebuttal of the article, beyond a simple statement. I’m not being a smart alec, I’m honestly curious about this topic.
Other than everything you posted was in italics so were do I begin?
If this is hitting the Southern Baptists, I would think it would be affecting other denominations too.
Or is this just Newsweek harranging the Southern Baptists like they always do the Catholics?
How is the church growing? Do you have more than anecdotal evidence?
Operative words here. Independent Baptist churches are growing in number.
I wonder if the author has a better plan?
source? (or just BS ?)
What’s the difference between the two, and why do you think independent Baptist congregations are growing, while Southern Baptists (apparently, according to Newsweak) are declining?
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