The Numbers Are In …

June 26, 2011

The numbers are in….USA Today reports the stats from the Southern Baptist Convention… 

“Baptisms fell to their lowest number in 60 years among Southern Baptists, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.

“This is not a blip,” said Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research. “This is a trend. And
the  trend is one of decline.” This marks the eighth time in 10 years that baptisms  have declined and the lowest number of baptisms since the 1950s.  Membership also  dropped for the fourth year in a row. Giving to overseas missionary also fell  short.

The latest decline comes a year after Southern Baptists approved a  major restructuring of their denomination, known as the Great Commission  Resurgence. The new program is designed to channel more into attracting converts.”

What are we to make of this?

I am not an “expert” but I  have a few thoughts on the matter.

• The average “church  member/attendee” today in America is very casual in his or her
commitment level  because of their lack of biblical understanding of Christ’s expectations of  those who would follow Him; their understanding of biblical salvation is  inadequate (they have often been taught inadequately). American “Christians” are  consumers (old and young alike) – church is all about their “needs” being met  and their preferences being catered to (this relates to musical styles,  programs, dress, preaching/teaching content, etc). Worship is “music that I like  and a talk that makes me feel positive”. Sacrifice, commitment, ministry to the  Lord and seeking to make genuine followers of Jesus  at the individual level is sparse.

• A Biblical illiteracy characterizes many (dare I say most?)  “cultural” Christians. There is a famine in the land!  Many professing Christians  do not know (rational, scriptural confidence) what they so-called believe or why  (the ability to rationally, scripturally articulate and give reasons) they  believe it. 75% of all church young people are leaving the church when they  reach 18 to never return. Academia is teaching them that it is all myths; that  they are just a product of natural selection and no different from an animal,  and this no real truth. They don't have enough convincing examples in the church  that is teaching them the truth in word and deed. They need more than “ask Jesus  into your heart” and “be a nice person”!
They need more than moralizing Sunday  School stories, and a repeated “sinner's prayer” so they can get a ticket to  heaven. They need real truth that produces real faith in a real LORD while  living in a real world! And so do we, by the way.

I would suggest that if  we, as individual Christians and churches, would love and glorify the Lord Jesus  instead of ourselves and would serve and be committed to Him instead of  ourselves … and would truly know what and why we believe in Christ and the  authority of the Word of God … and with meekness and reverence share that truth  in Holy Spirit power with our family, friends, coworkers and neighbors…and  live a life that lends credibility…then God the Father would mightily use  local churches and denominations for His purpose to
build the Body of Christ by  saving sinners and making followers of His Only Begotten Son!

I thank God  for what He is doing in the life of Providence Church. I pray that each one of  us takes our individual responsibilities to the Lord and His church very  seriously. I pray that each one of us will take the commission of making  followers of Christ seriously. I pray that each one of us will realize the great  importance of thoroughly knowing what and why we
believe.

“But  sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to  everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and  fear…”
1 Peter 3:15 (NKJV)