The average attendance at the main weekly worship service for a cooperating Southern Baptist church is around 100. LifeWay gave me a figure of 70 a few years ago along with a median size of 125. There are different ways to calculate it but, regardless of the method, the Southern Baptist Convention is a convention of small churches.
But only a fraction of churches get the attention, provide the high-profile leadership positions and, for better or worse, provide the public with what an SBC church looks like.
Sometimes this is positive. Sometimes it is negative.
Average sized SBC churches don’t set the agenda for the SBC. If they did, I’d make the wild conjecture that we would have avoided some problems.
I suggest skipping the megachurches, ignoring the megapastors and looking at the neighborhood or crossroads SBC church. You will see something different.
Last Sunday, Palm Sunday, I worshipped at an average sized church where I found a pastor in a suit, a piano, an organ, hymns, and pews. There were even kids waving palm branches. There was no CRT/I anywhere in sight.
This Sunday, our holiest and best attended Lord’s Day of the year, will see average churches holding sunrise services, singing resurrection hymns, displaying Easter lilies, and doing other traditional things. Those who want the essence of the SBC would do well to attend an average church rather than a megachurch.
I used to be a member of a megachurch, so I have no fundamental issue with size, but megachurches distort things in the SBC.
Take the issue of sex abuse in churches, a terrible and deplorable problem wherever it is found. The discussion and proposed solutions are defined by 200 megachurches rather than 40,000 ordinary, much smaller SBC churches.
There is little chance of a church of 70 hiring one of the high profile investigatory outfits. Summit can do this. Our entities, all with multimillion dollar budgets, can do this. The SBC Executive Committee can do this. A church with a budget of under $100k cannot do this.
That is no excuse for the pastor and church of a smaller church being ignorant of abuse, reporting requirements, and proper action. The SBC’s ERLC Caring Well initiative is adaptable to smaller churches although it seems to me to be more aimed at larger churches. Private, independent abuse resources like MinistrySafe are affordable for any size churches.
I repeat, there is no excuse for the pastor of any size church being ignorant of the issue and being informed about what he and his church should and could do. There is no excuse for not protecting children in any size church.
CRT/I? I’m still looking for anyone beyond a small group of energized SBC pastors who cares anything about this.
Have a great, if chilly (the weather prediction for latitude 33.753746 where I am) Easter.