Let me first clarify that this letter is for Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) pastors in general. I am well aware that what you are about to read does not include all pastors – at least not in totality. I also write this from the perspective of having been a pastor myself and therefore include myself as an addressee.
I look around the SBC and see, hear, and read about how the SBC is in decline. Resolutions come out saying regenerate membership must be our focus. Conferences are convened that decry the faults of various theological models of soteriology. Mission boards legislate instead of enable. This list could certainly be added to. What is really so remarkable about the question of SBC decline is not the decline itself, but rather the simple answer that is so obvious no one will talk about with any seriousness openly in the SBC. The cause of the decline of the SBC is – YOU!
If the last sentence made you squirm then I have been successful in setting a table for more discussion. If you are unphased, then you probably ought to be asking yourself why you are in even in the ministry. But that is another open letter for another time.
That being said, why are you, the pastor, the cause of the decline of the SBC? Simply stated, you have failed to preach the full gospel message. And because of the failure you have led the churches of the SBC into spiritual paralysis. Observe the three following illustrations of how our physical world is paralleled in the spiritual world enabled by a lack of the gospel. These are not intended to be exhaustive but should stimulate you to further personal introspection.
1. Abortion has become very prevalent in our society. With a new upcoming presidential administration, expanded abortion has been heralded as the first issue to be approved. By not clearly stating and preaching the gospel, you the pastor, have contributed to the deaths of millions of babies and children. Your congregations have not had their conscience pricked with repentance. The societal culture of death has numbed the church. In effect, spiritually, your church has become an abortion mill that kills unwanted and undesirable growth for the sake of convenience. Jesus could be speaking to us all when He says, “Woe to that man by whom the offense comes.” (Matthew 18:7b)
2. Homosexuality seeks to prey on the young of our society in order to reproduce it’s abomination. And yes, this is mirrored spiritually in your church as well. You should be familiar with Paul’s Holy Spirit inspired words from Romans 1. Many of you have given lip service to this passage but fail to see it happening among your own congregation. You allow yourself to be “worshiped” in God’s place. By not faithfully preaching Christ crucified you make a living off the flock instead. As a result your church gives unnatural affection to itself in such a way that parallels homosexual perversion instead of giving the love that should rightly be given to Jesus Christ alone. They are not a picture of the unblemished Bride the Bridegroom is preparing.
3. Wealth is the next illustration. You, the pastor, want bigger and better things for your church. Jesus said He would build the church (Matthew 18:18). He also said, “I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2) by not consistently instilling an eschatological hope derived from preaching of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, you have destroyed hope for an eternal existence with our Lord and Savior therefore necessitating a survival mentality in your congregation. They can only look to what they have now and as such they seek better programs and more fund-raisers. Programs and fund-raisers do not instill hope – only the desire for more programs and fund-raisers.
Pastor, I pray you receive these words as a challenge to preach the gospel. If you already TRULY do so then be encouraged by what I have written to continue even more boldly. Now is not the time to back down. Do not let the fear of man keep you from this holy and God-ordained task. Hollywood, the IRS, church government, the workplace, and the home should never sway you from gospel preaching.
If you have found offense at what you have just read I apologize for your emotion but not for my words. You must lead your church by proclaiming diligently that which has been given to you.
“Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ…to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:25, 27)