For the first
time, Southern Baptists can say membership has reached a tipping point
and the nation's largest Protestant denomination is now declining,
says one long-time Southern Baptist.
that many of us have already believed is there is now becoming real,"
said Ed Stetzer, director for LifeWay Research, in an interview featured
on MondayMorningInsight.com, a Web site for pastors and church leaders.
Baptisms in the
Southern Baptist Convention fell for the third straight year in 2007
to the denomination's lowest level since 1987, dropping nearly 5.5
percent to 345,941, according to LifeWay Christian Resources' Annual
Church Profile (ACP), which was released this week.
also declined by 0.24 percent to 16,266,920.
in the article, Kwon offered a quote from the head of LifeWay Christian
Resources, the publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, in
response to the findings:
report is truly disheartening," said LifeWay president Thom S.
Rainer, according to Baptist Press. "Total membership showed a
slight decline. Baptisms have now declined for three consecutive years
and for seven of the last eight years, and are at their lowest level
since 1987. Indeed, the total baptisms are among the lowest reported
since 1970. We are a denomination that, for the most part, has lost
its evangelistic passion."
Mr. Rainer, that’s not all we’ve lost.
quick stroll through the trinkets, toys and knickknacks for sale at
LifeWay Christian Stores, formerly the Baptist Book Store,
speaks volumes about our passion, doesn’t it?
being president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, Thom Rainer
is also the author of many books – one
of which encourages churches to simplify and “unclutter their
ministry” in order to “become more effective for the glory
of God” – emphasizing “the importance of eliminating
nonessential programs” to “focus on those ministries that
really matter” – which is curious considering all the clutter
and nonessentials being retailed by LifeWay.
he honestly think the Lord Jesus wouldn’t pull out a whip and
start turning over tables if He walked into one of LifeWay’s ecclesiastical
emporiums today? No, they’re not temples or houses of worship
– but trivializing God’s Word by putting it on novelties,
notions and assorted household items just so you can sell them to churchgoers
is tacky. And does LifeWay really think there’s nothing wrong
with using the Lord’s name in vain on their products and play
pretties as long as it’s not in a curse word?
there nothing sacred anymore?
the awe, reverence, fear and trembling of our faith for the King of
Kings and Lord of Lords – in the bottom of a LifeWay bag with
can we expect the unredeemed to take Jesus seriously, if we don’t?
what about the books LifeWay offers on Contemplative
Spirituality, aka, Spiritual Formation, from Emerging
Church authors and leaders, many of whom reject absolute truth, downplay
doctrine and encourage their readers to incorporate mantras and mysticism
into their Christian walk?
of the foremost authors and leaders of the Emergent
movement, Brian McLaren, recently spoke at Willow Creek Community
Church in South Barrington, Illinois at the annual Shift
student ministries conference. Here’s what the SBC’s own
had to say about him:
views break harshly from traditional Christian theology that Jesus died
on the cross as substitute for sinful humanity, taking the punishment
that men and women deserved for their sin.
Rainer’s associate, Ed Stetzer, author of last year’s Baptist
Press piece, Understanding
The Emerging Church, chimes in with a predictably progressive
proposal in Kwon’s Christian Post article:
a few suggestions for change, Stetzer said the Southern Baptist Convention
needs ethnic and generational diversity in its leadership.
he talking about the “ethnic and generational diversity”
of the Emerging Church’s young bohemians?
went on to say:
"infighting" has to stop. Debates over theological differences
and boundaries at every denominational meeting would only accelerate
the trend toward decline…
he be referring here to The Emerging Civil
War that’s brewing over all the liberal theology and
pagan practices infiltrating Southern Baptist churches around the country
and transforming them into something more culturally relevant?
heretical harmony and brotherly blasphemy are better than iron sharpening
iron, huh? Just how does one earnestly contend for the faith
without debate, Ed – sit in a circle, hold hands and hum?
the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort
with all long suffering and doctrine.”– 2nd Timothy
reportedly summed up the situation by saying:
must recover a Gospel centrality and cooperate in proclaiming that gospel
locally and globally," adding that, “we must refocus on the
Divine Obsession (Luke 15), the obsession with lost people."
how does LifeWay propose to do that selling teddy bears, coffee cups,
flowerpots, yard art and books by men who reject the Whole Counsel of
God? Are we to evangelize the lost with the Emergent gospel of Brian
to me our obsession ought to be for the Living Word of God
rather than the lost. After all, how can they be saved without Him?
Shall we go into battle without our double-edged sword and offer merchandise
and meditation instead?
then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”–
mean, is LifeWay really offering biblical solutions for life
here as their company slogan states or are they, in many ways, contributing
to the problems plaguing the SBC and facilitating its decline?
transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God.
He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and
the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive
him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth
him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” - 2nd John 1:
Paul Proctor, a rural resident
of the Volunteer state and seasoned veteran of the country music industry,
retired from showbiz in the late 1990's to dedicate himself to addressing
important social issues from a distinctly biblical perspective. As a freelance
writer and regular columnist for NewsWithViews.com,
he extols the wisdom and truths of scripture through commentary and insight
on cultural trends and current events. His articles appear regularly on
a variety of news and opinion sites across the internet and in print.
to me our obsession ought to be for the Living Word of God rather
than the lost. After all, how can they be saved without Him? Shall we
go into battle without our double-edged sword and offer merchandise and