Is the SBC Bleeding to Death?

by Dan Barnes on June 26, 2014 · 111 comments

I lost my dad to cancer in 1999, there was a tumor in his kidney that causes him to loose blood.  He began to loose blood faster than his body could replace it, and he bleed to death over the course of a month.  It was slow, it was crippling but not painful.  He became weak, he became tired and his lost some mental facilities.  Towards the end, he couldn’t lift his glasses from his chest and put them on his face.  One day he went to sleep and woke up with Jesus.

Bleeding to death from something like what my dad has is an interesting process.  At the beginning, he knew he was bleeding but did didn’t know he way dying.  Aside from the pain of the cancer and being sick from the chemo, he didn’t know he was terminal.  Some days I feel like the SBC in terminal and doesn’t even realize it.  We are bleeding out, losing our most precious resources, people.

Think about it, kids are graduating and leaving the church, we are closing churches faster than we plant them.  Many church plants don’t survive.  In ministry, we know that most pastors don’t make it in ministry, many are either forced out or fall out.  The stress, high expectations, always on call together with the sometimes less than ideal pay causes many to walk away.  I hear news of men who are forced out of positions because of business reasons, personality conflicts, other reasons that end up hurting the SBC in the long run.

With the exit being so much larger than the entrance, I worry we are bleeding out faster than we are growing.  Combine that with the feuding about things like the C/T debate which could possibly split the convention, we may we a time when the SBC is close to death.  Will we get past our issues enough to save it, or are we so proud that we will continue to ignore the loss, thinking that we are too big and strong to fall?  I pray we will be a little more open and a little less prideful.

{ 111 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dave Miller June 26, 2014 at 1:45 pm

Obviously, the SBC has its struggles and it does us no good to pretend that we do not.

However, I think it is hyperbole that defies reality to say that we are bleeding to death.

We have some issues that need to be dealt with but the SBC is not in the throes of death as my friend Dan has described here.

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2 Adam Blosser June 26, 2014 at 2:39 pm

I agree, Dave. I really do believe that our best days as a convention of churches may still be ahead.

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3 Andy June 26, 2014 at 1:59 pm

I generally agree with Dave here, especially since the article is so general, both in the problem(s?) and the lack of any solutions.

Will the SBC be around in 50 years? probably, but different than what is today.

Will the percentage of Americans attending bible-believing churches of any stripe continue to decline? probably.

Will some, even many SBC churches decide to significantly decrease their CP giving, and even their total SBC giving, and some even determine that breaking with the SBC completely serves their mission? probably.

Will some church members, church leaders, associational leaders, state leaders, and national leaders make stupid decisions, and others put emphasis on non-essential matters, and others simply make selfish decisions for personal gain? probably.

Will the gates of hell prevail against Christ’s church? NOPE!

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4 D. L. Payton June 26, 2014 at 2:12 pm

Andy
“will the gates of………church?”

this is an irrelevant statement. The SBC is not “Christ’s Church”.

I think Dan is being a little hard on SB, however, if we continue to decline in the future as we have in the past there are some hard times ahead for the convention. In this discussion there must be a continual delineation between the convention and SB Churches. Bible believing churches that are attached to the SBC will survive but they will survive because they are Bible believing not because they are SB.

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5 Dave Miller June 26, 2014 at 2:16 pm

DL, I’m not sure what your point is.

The SBC is not all of Christ’s church, but I believe that we are part of it. If you are saying that the SBC is completely separate from the church of Jesus Christ, then by all means you ought to separate from it.

I don’t think there is anyone here who believes that the SBC is the only iteration of the church in the world today.

For Andy to say that the SBC can trust confidently in Christ is completely valid. We are part of the church of Christ- with faults and failings, warts and all.

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6 Tarheel June 26, 2014 at 2:21 pm

Dave,

You said to DL;
“DL, I’m not sure what your point is. The SBC is not all of Christ’s church, but I believe that we are part of it.”

I am pretty confident that is his point.

The SBC does not have to survive for me to continue standing on preaching God’s word. That’s a paraphrase from Adrian Rogers.

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7 D. L. Payton June 26, 2014 at 3:04 pm

Dave
I am merely saying that the SBC is a convention not a church. The Matt passage is a promise to a the church not a convention. A convention may cease to exist but the church will exist until Jesus comes.

I think you jumped to a conclusion that was not warranted in assuming my position in regard to my relationship to the SBC. I have been a SB for 53 years because it is the closest group to the teachings if the N.T. And obviously we are not the only group of Bible believing people.

Me thinks you got a little excited there my brother! :-)

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8 Mark Mitchell June 26, 2014 at 5:01 pm

The convention is made up of churches. Those churches are what the op is speaking about. So yes that passage does apply.

9 D. L. Payton June 26, 2014 at 6:10 pm

Mark
The post title is “Is the SBC bleeding to Death” the SBC, a convention. The title is not “is the church… ” The Matt passage applies to only churches not conventions.

10 Andy June 26, 2014 at 2:33 pm

Perhaps I was not as clear as I had hoped…My point was, Christ’s church will prevail whether or not the SBC exists. There are certainly churches in the SBC that are part of Christ’s church. There is no need for gloom and doom about the SBC.

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11 Dave Miller June 26, 2014 at 2:35 pm

It was clear to me, Andy, that what you said and what DL were reacting to were two different things.

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12 D. L. Payton June 26, 2014 at 3:17 pm

Dave
No you re wrong. I understood what andy said. You misunderstood what I was saying. We must clearly differentiate between the convention and the church. Andy did that in his response.

Lets quite using extremes. No one is talking about “gloom and doom”. But there has been a decline. When I was a young pastor the convention we extremely vibrant and meaningful. Nearly15,000 people was in attendance in nearly every convention. The average church giving to the CP was approx. 10%. If we decline in the next 35 years as we have in the last 35 then…well do the math.

Gloom and doom? No. At least for me. I will die a SB if it is just me. However the attitude of younger pastors toward the convention must change if there is to be a vibrant entity call the SBC.

13 Dave Miller June 26, 2014 at 3:18 pm

DL, I do not think that you and Andy disagree at the root level.

14 Dave Miller June 26, 2014 at 3:29 pm

I don’t think anyone here is confusing the SBC as an entity and the SBC as a convention of churches.

In a sense, the SBC only exists for two days in June. But we are cooperating churches. So, when we say “the SBC” we are referring to the “churches that cooperate to do missions through the SBC.”

I think and hope most people understand that.

15 Dave Miller June 26, 2014 at 2:18 pm

And, for the record, I do not think that the C/T debate, as Dan calls it, is splitting the convention. There are bloggers and a few extremists on either end of the debate who elevate the debate to a divisive point, but most SBs are not centered and focused simply on whether someone is Calvinist or not.

That is one place where the blogging world is NOT representative of the general SB world.

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16 Tarheel June 26, 2014 at 2:22 pm

I agree.

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17 Nate June 26, 2014 at 2:23 pm

I agree Dave. For those of us that follow blogs, especially the SBC blogs, we see the C/T debate far more often and far more ferocious than church members in the pews. I doubt that 10% of my congregation even knows this debate exists and probably the overwhelming majority of them would consider it not worth losing sleep over.

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18 Max June 26, 2014 at 3:32 pm

“… the overwhelming majority of them would consider it not worth losing sleep over.”

I’m not sure this is the case if the majority were adequately informed of the generational shift in theology and ecclesiological drift sure to follow. I do agree that only a small percentage of Southern Baptists know about the C/T debate, but that is because the pew (a traditionalist majority) is either uninformed, misinformed, or willingly ignorant. Whew! Talk about bleeding … wait ’til the pew wakes up!

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19 Nate June 26, 2014 at 4:47 pm

I’ll have to disagree with you, at least with my congregation Max. I preach and teach the Bible without ever saying, “Here’s the way a Calvinist would think,” or ,”Here’s the way the Traditionalist would think.” I can preach and teach the bible, speak to the issues of the text, and let the Spirit do His work.

For example, I’m preaching through the Pastor Epistles at the moment and when I get to 1 Tim 2:4, “[God] desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth,” I will have absolutely no desire to speak about the C/T issue. And, I don’t think there is a need to. I can preach with conviction that God desires all who hear the gospel to be saved while equally saying that humans must repent and turn to Christ in faith, and if they don’t, they won’t be saved.

People in the pew aren’t asleep or willfully ignorant. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that all will not be saved. And, I don’t think it is jumping hoops to believe that God desires all to be saved. I leave the sorting and the counting to God and I’ll preach, “Whosoever will may come.”

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20 Tarheel June 26, 2014 at 4:51 pm

Amen, Nate.

21 Dave Miller June 26, 2014 at 6:52 pm

The only way this becomes a primary issue in the churches is if there is an alarmist pastor or church leader running around like chicken little warning them that the sky is falling if they don’t do something about the Calvinists or the non-Calvinists or whatever.

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22 volfan007 June 26, 2014 at 8:45 pm

I know with some Churches it’s become an issue, because a Calvinist came in, and tried to convert them. I can take you to several Churches within a few miles of me, who know a whole lot about the issue, due to this. In fact, the last time one of these Churches started looking for a Pastor, they actually put on their website for Calvinists to not even apply.

David

23 Tarheel June 26, 2014 at 9:27 pm

I am sure this happens…. But I am also sure that agenda driven non-Calvinist can come in and destroy a church just as quickly.

The problem is not the Calvinism the problem is the agenda and the integrity of the man.

Soteriolgy is it the problem….it’s the manifestation of the real problem.

24 Tarheel June 26, 2014 at 9:29 pm

*is not the problem, it’s simply the visual manifestation of the problem.

25 D. L. Payton June 26, 2014 at 9:52 pm

“Agenda driven” is a destroyer regardless of a theological camp.

26 volfan007 June 26, 2014 at 10:21 pm

I was simply responding to Dave’s statement that only the churches, who have an alarmist pastor or church leader, and the chicken little statement. I was just adding to what he was saying… that I also know of some churches, who have made this Calvinist/Traditionalist thing an issue, due to a Calvinist coming in and trying to convert them. I know of a few churches really close to me where this happened. And, I know of many, many Churches where this has happened in the Mid South region. In other words, those churches have made the Calvinism issue a big deal, and know all about it…NOW….because of what they went thru.

David

27 Adam Blosser June 26, 2014 at 2:44 pm

Once again, I agree. I have attended the last two annual meetings (my first two). I have walked away from both very encouraged, rather than discouraged. Sometimes I have to remind myself that the arguments and attacks found online are not representative of the convention in general.

Okay, I need to stop agreeing with Dave Miller so much.

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28 Tarheel June 26, 2014 at 2:50 pm

“Okay, I need to stop agreeing with Dave Miller so much.”

That will preach.

I am having slight seizures over all this agreement with him.

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29 Dave Miller June 26, 2014 at 6:50 pm

You would both absolutely improve your general lives if you would simply agree with me more.

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30 D. L. Payton June 26, 2014 at 3:20 pm

Dave
Absolutely correct

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31 Chris Johnson June 26, 2014 at 6:21 pm

I agree with that brother Dave. I would also add that the majority of Baptist’s I know certainly believe that God is entirely Sovereign (even over man), though many find it appealing to fight over the flavors of Sovereignty being offered in the seminaries.

Blessings,
Chris

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32 John Wylie June 26, 2014 at 2:51 pm

Well I know a lot of people automatically tend to dismiss the argument that I am about to make, but here goes…Do you think that maybe the description of the spiritual decay that Bible says will get progressively worse has anything to do with the decline of Christianity in general today? While I think that the factors that Dan enumerated are certainly not conducive to convention growth, certainly end times apostasy has got to play a role as well.

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33 Tarheel June 26, 2014 at 3:13 pm

John,

Based on my interactions with you…anyone who automatically dismisses what you share without giving it serious thought is making an error.

I will take what you have said as being a factor and add this….

I think the culture of casual approaches to church membership and easy beleiveism has led to a large part of our memberships being non regenerate people. I think it is catching up with us. I think in large part his is why numbers are declining.

I am not however completely of the school of thought that less numbers and fewer baptisms ALWAYS means less evangelism or less teaching is going on or is ALWAYS bad thing (sure these could be bad omens, but is not IMO necessarily so)….in fact it might be that the wheat is getting separated from the tares and a more pure church is coming forth – one that is truly prepared for the coming persecutions.

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34 Jeff P. June 26, 2014 at 3:23 pm

While I do agree with the comments for the most part, let me build a little on Dan’s points:

1) His dad who died of cancer and bled to death obviously was bleeding out before they discovered this. We tout ourselves and our nearly 16 million members, but in all honesty, is that figure remotely representative of our actual membership? According to Lifeway, we can expect about 40% of our membership to show up any given Sunday. That’s a lot already lost that we simply do not acknowledge in our numbers. Seems to me a lot of bleeding has already occurred, akin to that cancer patient prior to discovery of the illness

2) He identified many issues that are problematic, yet we have yet to find the “cure.” We know they are there, yet somehow, everything we do try seems to see little return. Sort of like a terminal cancer patient on chemo

3) Our youth are fleeing. The older you get, the closer to death you are

Like a terminal cancer patient, God’s church and the SBC are in need of what only the “Great Physician” can provide. There is an illness in the body at large and we need healing to revive us. How far along we are is TBD, but we all know where the answer is.

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35 D. L. Payton June 26, 2014 at 3:25 pm

John
I realiize that my Pre Trib Pre Mil position is about to show itself, but I agree with you completely. We are experiencing decay in society just as the Olivet Discourse and the Book of Rev. says. A serious Bible student must at least give your statement a hearing.

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36 John Wylie June 26, 2014 at 3:31 pm

Tarheel,

First of all, thank you for that very kind remark. And I agree completely with your added remarks. We have definitely sown the wind reaped the whirlwind theologically. And what you said about numbers is right on, I think we can be too market driven and not enough Spirit driven.

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37 John Wylie June 26, 2014 at 3:34 pm

Thanks D.L.,

In the past, many have responded to comments like what I just shared as though it was a cop out. That’s not my intention at all, I believe we should press on in spite of the fact that it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

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38 D. L. Payton June 26, 2014 at 4:02 pm

John
Yes, most certainly we should press on. I realize that i am preaching to the choir when i say that when taken in context scripture teaches that we finish the race even tho things will degenerate. God will direct events to his sovereign conclusion and will be surprised by nothing.

39 dr. james willingham June 29, 2014 at 8:41 am

I am happy to take issue with my brother-in-law from the post-mil perspective and urge that we have any where from 20,000-900,000 years left, depending on how one estimates the years of a generation. I Chron.16:15. I could, of course, be wrong, but I think that would be the first time.

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40 Max June 26, 2014 at 2:52 pm

There’s been a lot of reference to post-Christian America in recent years. Are we also entering a new era of doing church … post-denomination America? All mainline denominations are on the decline. The Church within the church (the Bride of Christ) has been distracted more than benefited by all the noise of denominational politics and theological agenda. There has always been only one Church and I have the feeling that it will soon get back on mission … without denominational structure.

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41 Tarheel June 26, 2014 at 3:22 pm

I hope no one thinks that politics and theological agenda are non existent in ‘non denominational’ churches.

I tend to like denominations. I am not of the school that they are distraction to the gospel…I think in large part denominational ‘lines’ allow those who disagree (strongly) on non gospel and non essential theology to partner with those of like theology for those matters while still being – dare I say it – together for the gospel (NO – not the conference, the gospel) with other members of the family of God.

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42 William Thornton June 26, 2014 at 3:24 pm

We are and will continue to decline numerically. A prominent SBC leader sails about as much at the convention.

“Dying” is a little melodramatic.

The question is, how will things in the SBC go when all of our levels and entities compete for a shrinking funding stream?Some are already starting this conversation.

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43 D. L. Payton June 26, 2014 at 4:08 pm

William T
I would be interested in your take on what it will take to turn things around. I am not talking about CP giving, I am referring to gaining participation and involvement of young pastors in the convention. If that happens CP will take an upswing.

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44 William Thornton June 26, 2014 at 4:20 pm

I don’t see that happening. Anecdotally, younger pastors just shake their heads about attending the convention. They have lots of things they would rather do. I suppose you could round up the usual suspects for the decline of denominationalism.

What younger pastors are interested in, seems to me, is international missions which is why we might see the IMB be more aggressive in raising money directly from the churches.

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45 D. L. Payton June 26, 2014 at 6:13 pm

William T
I fear your point is valid. What do you think the SBC will look like in the future.

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46 William Thornton June 26, 2014 at 6:48 pm

About like it looks now, just smaller.

47 Dave Miller June 26, 2014 at 6:54 pm

The way most of us eat, I don’t think it will get that much smaller.

48 andy June 26, 2014 at 10:36 pm

I think you’re wrong, Dave, I’ve seen quite a few skinny young pastors in skinny jeans…

…although I’ve also seen plenty of not-so-skinny pastors wearing skinny jeans…not pretty.

49 Dave Miller June 26, 2014 at 10:41 pm

They don’t make skinny jeans my size. Well, they shouldn’t.

50 volfan007 June 26, 2014 at 10:44 pm

Fat people should never wear anything called “skinny.’ I only wear loose fitting clothing…..well, unless some of my clothes have shrunk in the washing machine.

David

51 dr. james willingham June 29, 2014 at 8:44 am

Them fellows in the skinny jeans seem to pastor mega churches. Wonder if there is a correlation between the smallness of the jeans and the size of the church? Just musing out loud.

52 Dan Barnes June 26, 2014 at 11:05 pm

I like melodrama, it inspires comments, albeit about how wrong I am, but comments none the less.

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53 parsonsmike June 26, 2014 at 5:03 pm

If we look at the history of the church from the days of the apostles until now we see a trend that we should consider in this matter.

The church began in the Middle East, moved up through Turkey and Greece, and soon moved across northern Africa. It eventually moved up through western Asia and Europe including Great Britain.

From there it moved across to the Americas, the Protestant church most strongly in North America.

From the USA and its missionary efforts [both there and from England], the church has moved to Africa, India, and eastern Asia, as well as to S. America.

Now that is just a general outline, not meant to be specific on how the church has spread and is spreading across the globe.

It is also the ground for my point. Look at the places the church was and was vibrant.

The Middle East: was and was vibrant. Now just a remnant.
Northern Africa: was and was vibrant. Now just a remnant.
Turkey and northeastern Mediterranean Sea: was and was vibrant.
….now just a remnant.

Europe: was and was vibrant.
Now more people attend Mosques each week than Christian services.
Churches turned into Mosques and stores, etc.

North America, the USA: was vibrant, still vibrant? Many churches turning to sinful practices, including promoting gay lifestyle as normal, and for abortion.

The trend is that once vibrant-for-Christ geographical areas end up as paganized where the church is but a remnant of it self.

Will it happen here in the USA?
I do not know.

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54 Jess June 26, 2014 at 6:07 pm

Dan,

I have to agree with your post possibly more than you do. Here are a few reasons why I agree with what you are saying.

1. I think there are too many false conversions. I think only the Calvinists have the conversion experience spot on. Those who have made false professions are growing up and leaving the church because of no persevering attachment to Christ.

2. Lack of leadership of the Holy Spirit, which is not God’s fault but mans. Why do we need the Holy Spirit to lead us, we have committees for that. I think many times we have more confidence in a man than we do Christ.

3. VBS, accepting children into the church at a such an early age that they don’t know what they are doing. I think there should be some changes in the way VBS is conducted. We live in a time where if a teacher in VBS don’t produce results another teacher will be replacing them.

I am convinced the church is bleeding out, (but not the true church).
I think the true church has far less members than those who are on the church roll. Dan, I applaud you.

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55 D. L. Payton June 26, 2014 at 6:15 pm

Jess
“I think only the Calvinist have the conversion experience spot on”

Is this tongue in cheek or are you serious?

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56 dr. james willingham June 29, 2014 at 8:47 am

I think he has not studied enough Calvinists to make that kind of statement. You reckon? After all, even the traditionalists vary on the issue. And just imagine how confused are the Traditionalists who were won to Christ by Calvinists along with how confused are the Calvinists who were won to Christ by the Traditionalists.

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57 D. L. Payton June 30, 2014 at 12:03 am

Dr. JW
I am not sure i know all I understand about this
Or maybe I don’t understand all I know about this
Or maybe…….maybe I don’t know what I am talking about. LOL

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58 dr. james willingham June 30, 2014 at 11:44 am

I kinda of liked it myself. I am tell all and sundry, if you only knew how many were won to Christ by their opposite party people, if you only knew. Think of Benjamin Randall, founder of the Free Will Baptist Churches in the New England area. He was converted by hearing the news of the death of Ev. George Whitefield whom he had planned to hear preach. His thought upon hearing of the great evangelist’s death was this: “Who shall now tell me about how to be saved?” or something to that effect. And then there was Finney winning T. DeWitt Talmadge and his whole family to Christ (Talmadge was a leading Presbyterian in the 19th century) and A.H. Strong and his father. Strong, of course, was noted for being a Calvinistic theologian, circa 1900. Long ago, I lost my list, but it was considerable. The list was actually a list involving contradictions in Christian theology. What one gets into in this kind of investigation is the intellectual, paradoxical, experiential, scriptural, etc., nature of the Christian Faith, stuff most folks have forgotten, if they knew it at all, that exists and is far more important than we can possibly conceive today. In fact, if we are going to go with mankind to the stars and win the day, we will have to investigation the truly intellectual depths of the Book inspired by the Omniscient God, depths of wisdom which are commensurate with such a source.

59 Tom Stowe June 26, 2014 at 6:20 pm

Oh, so this conversion experience must be false because it wasn’t theologically grounded in explicit Calvinism?
http://m.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=42853

Jess, you may be honest, but your perspective is the reason I’m glad I don’t have any close Calcibist friends.

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60 Jess June 26, 2014 at 9:16 pm

Tom,

Sounds as though the woman was being called and under conviction, which proves Calvinism. I think there are others on voices that are more qualified than me to make this argument. This post isn’t about Calvinism, and I wish no further discussion about it. I believe Dave would wish it also.

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61 D. L. Payton June 26, 2014 at 9:46 pm

Jess
If you wish not to discuss it, then why did you introduce it into the discussion. The fact that the woman was under conviction does not prove Calvinism it proves Holy Scripture.

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62 Jess June 26, 2014 at 10:28 pm

D. L. Payton

I agree what the woman did does prove Holy Scripture. God was calling her. What I am saying, and I guess I done a poor job explaining it, is that there is too much pushing children to come to Christ. The children are growing up and leaving the church because there is no preserving attachment to Christ, which indicates Salvation. I’m not saying everyone that leaves the church is lost, there may be reasons we don’t understand. What I am saying is the vast majority is lost. They don’t have the correction from God, and are as happy as little Larks.

The major problem I have with Traditionalist’s is the way many of them conducts the invitations. All you have to do is just come and take me by the hand and we will pray and you can accept Christ right now. I’ve seen mom’s push their child out in the isle so they can go to the preacher. This is not getting saved, God has to do the calling and no one else.

I’m sure there are Calvinist’s that abuse the invitation also. I think the abuse of an invitation is an ungodly act.This is why I think a true Calvinist is spot on when it comes to someone accepting Christ.

63 dr. james willingham June 29, 2014 at 8:49 am

Jess, I know of a Calvinist who was won to Christ by a Traditionalist who gave an invitation to those who did not want to commit the sin against the Holy Ghost.

64 D. L. Payton June 29, 2014 at 4:48 pm

Jess
While the jest of your agreement is sound, you are painting with too broad of a brush. A poorly given invitation has nothing to do with soteriology. It has everything to do with sloppy evangelism. Because one is a Calvinist he does not do a better job. Because one is a Trad. he does not do a worse job.

Your arguments are biased and filled with agenda.

65 Dan Barnes June 26, 2014 at 6:47 pm

Thanks Jess, I was a little sad that every post said I was wrong. I agree that we have false conversions and I believe not only do we have unsaved church members, but also unsaved pastors. Those who say “Lord, Lord” may be those preaching today. No one wants to think their church will die, but I’ve seen vibrant churches die in a short time. Will it happen in the SBC? We will see.

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66 andy June 26, 2014 at 10:31 pm

Dan, I think the main reason I did not see much in your post to applaud, is that it was so general, and so devoid of solutions as to only sound alarmist without being helpful.

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67 Dan Barnes June 26, 2014 at 11:07 pm

Andy, I don’t know the solutions. I have some ideas, like we all need to listen to Dave more, but I didn’t propose any because I see an issue that needs work. I can’t just post fixes for the sake of posting fixes. Alarmist? I’m alarmed.

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68 andy June 26, 2014 at 10:42 pm

Jess, what solutions do you propose? …Especially given the following:

1. Calvinist churches have false converts too.

2. The New Testament church appointed teams of people for certain tasks (deacons, Jerusalem counsel)

3. If what you describe is how some churches do vbs, then you’re right, that’s bad…I’m glad my church doesn’t do vbs that way.

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69 Jess June 26, 2014 at 11:51 pm

andy,

I have always said that the most complicated questions have the simplest answers. I think if the answer is not simple then the question was wrong.

I’m glad to be able to share the solution to your question. From what I’ve learned in the Scripture, also through my Christian experience, is that God answers prayer. If we as the Church would just take one step back and look Heavenward, with an open, broken heart and say God I submit myself to you. I want to be led by your Holy Spirit and I reject my ways for I am nothing, you are everything I want and need. My friend, a prayer like this will change lives, and make a new Christian, Preacher or Teacher out of us.

I think the problem today is that we don’t need God, because we already have the answers. It is no doubt the churches biggest problem and needs to be addressed as soon as possible. It would solve all the problems in the church.

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70 D. L. Payton June 29, 2014 at 4:49 pm

Jess
I have done exactly that.

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71 Jess June 26, 2014 at 6:31 pm

D.L. Payton

I’m serious as a heart attack.

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72 parsonsmike June 26, 2014 at 7:50 pm

Jess,
What do you mean by the idea that only Calvinists have the conversion spot on?

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73 Jess June 26, 2014 at 9:04 pm

Mike,

What I mean by making that statement is we cannot save ourselves, nor the church can save us, nor the preacher can save us. God is the one that does the calling, not the VBS teacher. This is why Calvinists are spot on, I cannot see any other way to come to Christ except by God’s calling. The scriptures doesn’t teach any other way.

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74 parsonsmike June 26, 2014 at 9:17 pm

Jess,
i am a 5 point C.
But you are not making any sense.
When the Gospel is preached, say by a Traditionalist, a person can be saved.
And this person saved is so saved because God called, for as you say, she can not come to Christ except by God’s calling.

But does not the preacher or teacher give out the Gospel proclamation and urge everyone to submit to the Lord?

And so, in reformed circles at least, we call that the outward call.

“Many are called, but few are chosen.”

And that is what they do in Non-C churches: they give the outward call to sinners to submit in faith and trust and repentance to the Lord.

So i fail to see what you mean by what you say.

-mike

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75 Jess June 26, 2014 at 9:43 pm

Mike,

I have spoken what I believe the Scriptures teach, no more, no less. This post isn’t about Calvinism, and I prefer not to go down that road.

76 parsonsmike June 26, 2014 at 9:55 pm

Jess,
Actually the Scriptures do not say: “… only the Calvinists have the conversion experience spot on.”

Just Jess said that.
If we are going to unite around the Gospel, such unsubstantiated digs are unwarranted and divisive.

77 volfan007 June 26, 2014 at 10:25 pm

Jess,

When you said, “What I mean by making that statement is we cannot save ourselves, nor the church can save us, nor the preacher can save us. God is the one that does the calling, not the VBS teacher. This is why Calvinists are spot on, I cannot see any other way to come to Christ except by God’s calling. The scriptures doesn’t teach any other way,” as a NON Calvinist, who signed the Traditional Statement, I could say “Amen” to everything you just said. I think you’ve got a really bad understanding of what a Traditional, Non Calvinist, Southern Baptist believes…..really bad.

David

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78 Jess June 26, 2014 at 10:49 pm

Volfan007,

My friend, many times what someone suppose to believe and what they do are two different things.

79 volfan007 June 26, 2014 at 11:01 pm

Jess,

Traditional SB’s don’t believe that we can save ourselves….do not believe that the Church saves people….do NOT believe that a preacher saves anyone. Traditional SB’s believe that God calls us to salvation, and if God doesn’t call you, then you won’t be saved. We do not believe that VBS calls a person…but we do believe that God can use VBS to call out to the hearts of children.

Does that clear it up?

David

80 Dan Barnes June 26, 2014 at 11:10 pm

David W, I wish all traditionalists believe as you do, but I think that the Traditionalists will begin to have the same problem the Calvinists have. There are so many different beliefs under the name “traditionalist” that claiming that flavor will tell people nothing about what you actually believe, it will be just what they assume you believe based on other influences.

81 volfan007 June 27, 2014 at 9:43 am

Dan,

I honestly do NOT know any Traditional SB, who would believe what Jess said. Do you know of any Traditionalist, who believes like Jess said?

David

82 Dan Barnes June 27, 2014 at 6:29 pm

Yes, I do, but I won’t call them out by name, in case I have misinterpreted what they have told me. They can attest themselves to their opinion.

83 D. L. Payton June 29, 2014 at 4:52 pm

Jess
Volfan just spoke words of wisdom. You would do well to listen to them.

84 Dave Miller June 26, 2014 at 11:15 pm

Boys and girls, let’s just not let this become another Calvinism centered post, okay?

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85 D. L. Payton June 26, 2014 at 6:35 pm

Jess
Thank you for the clarification. I do not believe we have enough common ground on which to base a dialogue.

Again thank you for the response.

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86 Mark Terry June 26, 2014 at 9:14 pm

Organization theory holds that an organization experiences growth, plateau, and then decline. Robert Dale explained this very well in his book, To Dream Again. If you look at SBC statistics, you can see that the SBC has experienced this. An organization can start a new cycle of growth by getting a new vision (or dream). It seems to me this is where we are in the SBC. We need spiritual renewal and a new vision.

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87 Max June 27, 2014 at 7:51 am

“We need spiritual renewal and a new vision.”

Amen Mark! “Where there is no vision [no redemptive revelation of God], the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18 AMP).

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88 andy June 26, 2014 at 10:52 pm

In jess’s defense, every Calvinist should really believe what she said, at least to the degree that they believe their view is closer to being “spot on” than the other views…and no non Calvinist should be offended by it…it is soteriology after all. If a Calvinist thought that the Trads idea of what happens at conversion was spot on as much as his own view, he wouldn’t be a Calvinist. Also, every traditionalist should say the same thing about their view of conversion. It should not be offensive at all to say you think your view is right.

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89 Don Johnson June 26, 2014 at 11:21 pm

Andy,

I also believe a Calvinist should believe their soteriology is spot on. If asked it’s not offensive to say your view is right. But flatly stating my view is the right one is rightfully going to be challenged on any subject.

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90 D. L. Payton June 28, 2014 at 1:30 pm

andy
You make a good point. I have come to believe that it is always proper to state a position with conviction. When this is done one should not take offense. When a position is stated with arrogance, that is a different matter in my view. What do you think? Is this a legitimate line of delineation?

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91 parsonsmike June 26, 2014 at 11:17 pm

Andy,
Some Calvinist churches use an altar call.
Some Calvinist churches use VBS to call children to Christ.

The way Jess argued for is not THE Calvinistic way.

He wasn’t arguing the ordis salutis but procedures NOT in the Bible, his procedures or theirs.

So she was not spot on.
She wasn’t speaking about what happens at conversion,but the procedures leading to conversion.

True, some churches abuse altar calls, and push children to make a commitment, but to issue a blanket statement that all non-calvinist churches do and no Calvinist church doesn’t is simply wrong.

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92 parsonsmike June 26, 2014 at 11:34 pm

I think one reason we are bleeding [whether it is to death, i do not know] because we do not make disciples of our members, but allow those we baptize to silently disappear from the pews.

Part of that is because we [not all, but many] put such a premium on getting a newly professed person quickly baptized and on the rolls.

The more a church draws its members from a large geographical area, or from a heavily populated area, the less community it has between its members outside of the church’s own activities [which usually are centered on the physical building].

Add to this remoteness an ever growing tendency, especially among those young, to relate, not in person, but to relate electronically, there then seems to be a need for the church to have its regular established members take its new members by the hand and enter into personal discipleship relationships.

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93 Jess June 27, 2014 at 12:07 am

Mike,

Thank you for saying what I have been saying. Although your answer was a little confusing. I think it can be cleared up by proof reading your posts before you hit submit. I need to do the same thing, I come across a little confusing sometimes also.

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94 Jess June 27, 2014 at 12:09 am

Have a good night everyone, the bed is calling my name.

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95 Mark Lamprecht June 27, 2014 at 10:56 am

While thinking about bleeding to death in light of the SBC’s future, have any of you watched The future of gay marriage within evangelicalism with Ed Stetzer, Trevin Wax, Jonathan Merritt, and Sarah Pulliam Bailey?

I wonder how much of what was said may come true and how much the SBC may be affected.

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96 Greg Harvey June 27, 2014 at 7:53 pm

Well…we could double down on all sin in the church and throw everyone out that continues to sin prior to crossing the River Jordan…

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97 volfan007 June 27, 2014 at 9:07 pm

Charles Spurgeon :
O my dear hearers, do not let it be so with you! Many of you are saved; I beseech you intercede for those who are not saved. Oh, that the unconverted among you may be moved to pray. Before you leave this place, breathe an earnest prayer to God, saying, “God be merciful to me a sinner. Lord, I need to be saved. Save me. I call upon thy name.” Join with me in prayer at this moment, I entreat you. Join with me while I put words into your mouths, and speak them on your behalf—
“Lord, I am guilty. I deserve thy wrath. Lord I cannot save myself. Lord, I would have a new heart and a right spirit, but what can I do? Lord, I can do nothing, come and work in me to will and to do of thy good pleasure.
Thou alone hast power, I know,
To save a wretch like me;
To whom, or whither should I go
If I should run from thee?
But I now do from my very soul call upon thy name. Trembling, yet believing, I cast myself wholly upon thee, O Lord. I trust the blood and righteousness of thy dear Son…Lord, save me tonight, for Jesus’ sake.”
From Free Grace Promise – October 11th, 1888 by C. H. SPURGEON
_________________________________

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98 volfan007 June 27, 2014 at 9:08 pm

Jess and Dan,

Here’s what a Traditional SB would say to the lost.

David

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99 Dale Pugh June 28, 2014 at 7:56 am

And that settles that.

Thanks, David!

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100 Tarheel June 28, 2014 at 7:57 am

VolFan,

You better cite it if you use that in a sermon!!!! ;-)

Seriously, I’m not a signer of the traditionalist statement and therefore not a part of that club but, I too could say something along those lines.

The use of a “sinners prayer” is not bad in my view, but it’s misuse (not in view in the above quote) certainly is.

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101 D. L. Payton June 28, 2014 at 1:36 pm

Tarheel
I agree on the “sinner’s prayer”. I am not sure I really understand the debate regarding the sinners prayer. It is the ABUSE of that practice that is wrong. Given that, we can abuse any practice and make it non effectual. Why throw out the sinners prayer because some abuse it. If they will abuse the prayer they will abuse any practice. the unholy quest for numbers and the reward for same is the basis of this abuse.

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102 Tarheel June 28, 2014 at 1:43 pm

See, there’s more of that Payton wisdom. ;-)

103 D. L. Payton June 28, 2014 at 6:26 pm

The definition of wisdom…..”making it up as you go”

104 dr. james willingham June 29, 2014 at 8:53 am

I been listening to Payton’s wisdom for over 50 years. Sometimes it makes sense. I repeat, sometimes.

105 D. L. Payton June 29, 2014 at 4:40 pm

Sir Dr. JW
Just when was it when I was wise? Other than marrying your sister.

106 Lee June 28, 2014 at 6:05 pm

This is quite an interesting thread of discussion. We can see the problems:
1. We are losing the young people that are being raised in the church following their graduation from high school. I believe we are losing them because they are being philosophically and convictionally undermined by their public school education, which is systematically organized to do just that.
2. We can see that churches are declining and dying a natural death in some cases, because we can read membership stats and Sunday School enrollment figures, and see pretty clearly that more than half of our church members are 60 years old, or older, that more than 7 million church “members” are “non-resident” (i.e. belong to another church or don’t attend ours anymore), and that 9 out of 10 of those who are baptized as new believers are children under 12.
3. We can see that some churches are getting bigger and bigger, but the total number of baptisms they perform, and the total number of people they are reaching, is getting smaller and smaller. Mega churches are killing the smaller churches which are the place where the only real evangelism is taking place. Churches built on the attraction model certainly grow, but they don’t do kingdom growth.
4. We still seem to think that the “SBC” can come up with a solution to resolve these problems. I don’t see a historical precedent where denominational initiatives reversed a decline in evangelistic activity and membership. The idea that denominational leadership is of the quality and ability to bring about the kind of change that only spiritual revival can bring is counterproductive. If the “best” minds and thinkers are not in the local churches, the problems we see will continue.

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107 dr. james willingham June 29, 2014 at 8:57 am

I suggest as I have been doing for 40+ years that we need to all study Edwards’ Humble Attempt and plead the prophecies and promises in it as the basis for a visitation from God. Trouble is, I have been trying for so long. I simply try to point out that the Great Century of Missions or the modern missionary movement grew out of the use of that document , circa 1800, along with the Second Great Awakening (1800-1820). The Third Great Awakening, the one that wins the whole earth beginning, hopefully, in this generation and continuing for a 1000 generations and quadrillions of planets yet to be settled.

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108 linda June 29, 2014 at 12:51 pm

This is all way above the pay grade of this old grandma in the pew, but maybe we are losing the younger adults because we try too hard to be just like what we perceive to be their culture.

In our area, we are regularly taught that if we love Jesus and want to see the young folks in church, we have to do a rock concert type format for church (standing, arms waving for 45 minutes to 1 hr) and have to do whatever music is top of the Christian chart (CCM and Christian rock.) Very few young adults attend, and aging boomers like myself abound.

We’ve been quietly visiting other churches and we seem to have found the young adults. They are in structured, even mildly liturgical settings, singing not CCM or rock or even the old gospel songs I love, but rather real….old….hymns.

The sermons there are less casual in tone and more structured, even deeply theological.

We might be bleeding because the young adults have left our perpetual teen group and actually ARE going to church.

No answers, and not my bailiwick anyway, just some food for thought and discussion.

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109 David R. Brumbelow June 29, 2014 at 5:51 pm

Contrary to this post,
the number of SBC churches has grown.
Southern Baptists can certainly do better, but it is not nearly as pessimistic as presented in this article.
In the most recent year records are available:

“Southern Baptists experienced growth in the number of churches affiliated with the convention in 2012 and the total amount given for denominational missions causes.
However, according to the Annual Church Profile (ACP) compiled by LifeWay Christian Resources in cooperation with Baptist state conventions, most of the ACP metrics declined in 2012 including membership, average attendance, baptisms and total giving.

The number of churches in the Southern Baptist Convention grew by 270 to 46,034, a 0.6 percent increase over the previous year.” -BP

David R. Brumbelow

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110 William Thornton June 29, 2014 at 7:55 pm

The latest ACP shows a 91 church increase, about two per state convention.

I’m optimistic that SEND/NA will boost church numbers but I suspect the total membership will decline.

We are a slowly declining denomination.

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111 dr. james willingham June 30, 2014 at 11:56 am

Thought I would throw a monkey wrench into this discussion. Calvinist Jonathan Edwards (surely everyone will concede that point) had a four year old girl in his church who confessed to being saved. He wrote her up as one of his examples, if memory serves correctly, in his narrative of surprising conversions. Years ago I stumbled across a copy of material fro a Sunday School Convention about the 1880s. It contained the testimony of a lady who was the Great or Great Great grand daughter of that that lady who had been the four year old in Edwards stories from the First Great Awakening. She told how her ancestress had lived a godly life and how her ancestors since had also been converted and lived lives of devotion, etc. Surely, a remarkable testimony to the power of God working in the soul of a four year old. On the other hand, I have heard of children who were converted and converted again. Sort of leaves on in a quandary to know what to do.

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