Can’t Wait ‘Til Friday

Tomorrow – as always – I will post some of my favorite articles from the week on Free Flow Friday (FFF)!

But this couldn’t wait (and I didn’t want to overload the amount of articles for FFF tomorrow!).

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I am a Southern Baptist. I have been a Southern Baptist from the womb. I love – and always have loved – being a Southern Baptist. I don’t see myself ever leaving the SBC. . .

But I must confess – gulp – I get more discouraged about it all the time. I wanna be and stay optimistic. I really, really do. And I will try to be. Really, really GREAT things are still happening all across the convention. But certain trends just keep getting worse and some bad tendencies just continue to stay the same. I am trying to be optimistic. But honestly – gulp – it’s hard.

The SBC held its annual meeting this week in Houston, TX.

Below are some articles reflecting on the meeting I encourage you to link to and prayerfully read through. Perhaps you will see what I mean. Perhaps you will show me I am dead wrong (I hope I am). Again, I know there are GREAT things still happening for the kingdom of Christ and the glory of the Father. For that I am grateful and why I am still proud to be a Southern Baptist. But it’s getting more awkward.

Consider these – pass on some others – and let me know your thoughts. . .

#1. What Southern Baptists Must Do to Slow Their Decline by Jonathan Merritt

Another trend illustrating decreased denominational loyalty among member churches is the plummeting attendance of the SBC’s annual meeting. LifeWay reports a precipitous drop over the last decade. As of Tuesday morning, fewer than 5,000 messengers were registered for the event, down from an annual average of 7,670 between 2000 and 2012.

No matter how you look at the data, it seems to indicate trouble is on the horizon for the SBC.

#2. Thom Rainer Reflections

Where Have All the Baptisms Gone?

Our membership declined again, this time by 105,708. And our baptisms were down to 314,956, the lowest level since 1948. But in 1948, we only had 6 million members. Today we have 16 million members. We are reaching less people for Christ, even though we have 10 million more members than we did in 1948.”

The 2013 Southern Baptist Convention: Notes and Prayers

‘I know Southern Baptists pretty well,’ he began. ‘I’ve been in the restaurant business in New Orleans when you when came to town. You know, you Baptists are at your best when you’re trying to do something for people. You were incredible helping us in New Orleans after Katrina. But you can be pretty obnoxious at convention time. I told my fellow employees at the restaurant to get ready for small tips, lots of gospel tracts to go with the cheap tips, and plenty of people ordering desserts.’

The Southern Baptist Convention in Houston: Reflections on Day 1

Total messenger count is around 5,000. While there are a number of people present who aren’t messengers, this number is unusually low for an annual meeting that is held in a southern or southwestern location. The low number can be partly explained by a non-contested presidential election. That does not explain fully, however, the unusually low attendance.

The Southern Baptist Convention in Houston: Reflections on Day 2

I asked about 25 young pastors and staff persons why they thought the attendance of the annual meeting continues to decline, reaching new modern lows in Houston this week. The responses were uniform. They gave one of two related answers. First, these leaders say that their peers are not motivated to give so much time to a two-day business meeting. Second, they are weary of the negativity and nitpicking that has taken place in recent conventions. I followed up by asking if money was a factor. They said that these pastors are more than willing to pay the expense if the benefits are worth the costs. Their peers do not deem the annual meeting of the SBC a worthwhile investment, they told me.”

Honestly – gulp – these are reasons I didn’t go this year either.

#3. Chart of SBC Attendance Since the Early 80’s.

#4. Danny Akin Reflects on the SBC

What do you think??? Anybody got an opinion?

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2 thoughts on “Can’t Wait ‘Til Friday

  1. Becky and Johnny says:

    Dear Pastor Matt,
    It has taken me awhile to read through the ideas presented here, and I must tell you that I agree the most with Jonathan Merritt (post #1). Yes, it is difficult to consider “change”, but even fifteen years ago, Hoffmantown Baptist in Albuquerque, New Mexico dropped the Baptist out of their name. Johnny and I were very involved in the prayer ministry, Sunday School, and missions of Hoffmantown Church, which at that time had grown to over 10,000 members. They had gone to two services, one on Sunday mornings (more traditional) and one on Saturday evenings, more on the order of personal testimonies and latest Christian music, and casual dress!
    Many of those 10,000 attended the Saturday evening worship.

    You and Brian have both mentioned the word “change” in the meetings lately. I know it is difficult for some of the older generation (us also) to accept, but if we don’t consider new ways and even “words” we use, our churches will lose!

    Our church, Sharpstown Baptist in Houston was dealing with some of the same issues, and a group of members were meeting on Sunday evenings to pray and attempt to figure out how we could change to be able to continue to reach out in Jesus Name to our rapidly changing neighborhood!

    Both churches I have mentioned had strong prayer warriors and prayer meetings to ask for His Guidance in our decisions!

    We are continuing to pray for our church and our very special people every day!
    In His Love and Service,
    Becky & Johnny Isbell

  2. Libby Kloap says:

    While these statistics may be discouraging, I believe that if we keep our eyes on the prize and Jesus in our lives, this does not have to be true in El Dorado.

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