Southern Baptist membership, baptisms decline in 2007
By ROSE FRENCH Associated Press Writer
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The number of people baptized in Southern Baptist churches fell for the third straight year in 2007 to the denomination's lowest level since 1987, and membership dipped slightly as well.
The president of the Southern Baptist Convention blamed the decline in part on a perception that its followers are "mean-spirited, hurtful and angry."
For a denomination that places winning converts at the heart of its mission, the continued slide is troubling and disappointing, said the Rev. Frank Page, the convention's president.
Part of the blame can be placed on a notion that Baptists have been known too much in recent years for "what we're against" than "what we're for," Page said.
"Our culture is increasingly antagonistic and sometimes adverse to a conversation about a faith in Christ," he said. "Sometimes that's our fault because we have not always presented a winsome Christian life that would engender trust and a desire on the part of many people to engage in a conversation on the Gospel.
"All Southern Baptists should recommit to a life of loving people and ministering to people without strings attached so people will be more open to hearing the Gospel message."
In the past 50 years, the number of annual baptisms per church member — a key indicator of church growth — has dropped sharply. Southern Baptists baptized one person for every 19 church members in 1950, a ratio that dropped to 1 baptism for every 47 church members in 2007, according to the report.
Me speaking, again: I'm guessing devotees of the in-your-face Way of the Master methodology won't approve of the new Baptist approach. So be it. I'm loath to criticize any preaching of the Gospel - being well mindful of Philippians 1.15-18 - but all I see when I view their videos (or others like them, such as the one below) is a lack of humility and a lack of love. Why do people have to be berated into the Kingdom? Even if the presentation is doctrinally correct, can it not also be presented with compassion and respect? Why is conversation, rather than rank confrontation, forbidden?
The group that produced the following video has a rather extensive website, but I was unable to find anything about the effectiveness (fruit) of their methodology. I wonder.
(Sorry for any weird formatting in the last couple paragraphs. Some day I'll learn some HTML so I can fix my mistakes.)
Saturday, April 26, 2008
The Greatest Apologetic is Love
The statement in the title of this post has been attributed to Francis Schaeffer. Regardless of its provenance, it came to mind when reading the following article from the AP in today's newpaper. It's edited below for brevity, but the full article is here.