SBC Decline

Yet another post about the SBC's declining numbers

This is the fourth and final in this series of posts all on the same topic - the bad news that came to Southern Baptists last week. I am a Southern Baptist who is proud of my denomination.  I am proud of our stance on scripture and our history as the only denomination to come back from liberalism.  (Just think how far our decline would be if we had progressed in denying the Scriptures.)  I actually enjoy the convention itself.  The business and the preaching is enjoyable to me. I want to see the convention grow, but I only have control over one Southern Baptist - myself.  Likewise, I only have influence in one Southern Baptist Church - LaGrange Park.

So today I am sharing with you a portion of my newsletter article I wrote for May 2009.

Last May I reported to you that the Southern Baptist Convention baptized fewer people for the third straight year, that number is now 4 straight years and for the second year in a row we saw a decline in overall membership.  I would like to offer you a challenge.  Let's not let LaGrange Park be a part of this trend. We are already well on our way to baptizing more people than we did last year, but it will still be a difficult task.  We can, however, accomplish this goal, which is certainly God's will, if we make sharing our faith with our friends, coworkers, schoolmates and family a priority.

This is my prayer:

Father, would you give our church a burning desire to share our faith?  Convict us of the need to live differently from the world (Rom 12:2), to tell others why we have the hope that we have (1 Pet 3:15), and to be winsome and encouraging to the lost world around us.  Burden us the way you burdened Jeremiah (Jer 20:9) because we know that there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:11) Thank you for the gift that is salvation, and let us not take it for granted.

What I will do in light of the SBC's declining numbers

Yesterday I put together a list of things I would not do in light of the declining numbers in the Southern Baptist Convention.  Today, a list of things I will do. I will witness

I will be faithful those whom God has given me to minister to

I will be proud of my convention

I will affirm the Baptist Faith and Message

I will be a proud signatory to the Great Commission Resurgence statement

I will realize that my message is being pushed further into the fringes of society

I will be willing to speak the truth in love even if it hurts a bit

I will be willing to speak the truth in love even if it hurts a lot

I will attend the SBC as long as my church allows and I can afford it (anybody need to share a hotel in Louisville?)

I will pray before I vote for convention leadership rather than simply voting for the pastor from the largest church

I will share my faith

I will honor those who helped bring the convention to where it is

I will continue believe that the Bible is true in all that it declares

I will pray for the convention leadership

I will listen to those who are wiser than me

I will remember that the gospel is not just about the afterlife but that it instantly makes life better

I will tell others about what Christ did for me

I will encourage other under-40s to participate in denominational life

I will encourage my state convention to pass as much money on to the SBC as possible

I will continue to support the CP

I will remember that God is in control

I will make the gospel central to my message

I don't have any plans to make any further comments beyond this list, but if you want something clarified just ask.  Also feel free to add to this list in the comments

What I will not do in light of the SBC's declining numbers

As I was thinking about what I can do to improve my declining denomination I also thought about the reactions that I would probably read and hear from others.  So I decided to put together this list of things I will not do because of the bad news of last week. I will not panic

I will not abandon the convention (unless it abandons me)

I will not change the message of the gospel for the sake of growth

I will not assume that my gospel presentation is the only successful method

I will not look to secular gurus of business growth to learn how to grow the church

I will not teach a lesson in which I do not include a gospel presentation

I will not blame the Calvinists

I will not deny one word of Scripture even if it becomes very unpopular

I will not think that becoming more worldly makes me a more effective evangelist

I will not bury my head in the sand and pretend that there is no problem

I will not take joy in the shrinking denomination

I will not assume that a shrinking SBC is a sign of the end times

I will not give more credit to Satan than he deserves

I will not blame everything on Johnny Hunt or Frank Page or Al Mohler

I will not stop giving to the Cooperative Program

I will not go to Catalyst or any other conference in place of the Southern Baptist Convention (I may go, but not instead of the SBC)

I will not assume that my way is the only way to do church

I will not lead my church by surveys or popularity contests but with Christian discernment and the Scriptures

I will not strive for a greater "voice" within the convention.  I will be faithful to those God has called me to minister to

I will not heap undue criticism on those leaders of another generation (older or younger than me)

I will not be hopeless

Feel free to add to this list in the comments.

Tomorrow - What I will do in light of the SBC's declining numbers.