Connecting the Dots in an Unconnected World

Friday, June 7, 2013

Blessed are the Balanced

Today, in the blogosphere, information was released from the 2012 Southern Baptist Convention Statistical Summary. The statistics indicate we are going the wrong direction.

These numbers indicate a decline in every category with the exception of Total Churches, Church Type Missions Operating and Great Commission Giving. This is a continuing pattern across a period of years. We must begin to ask the question: Why?"

I am certain there are as many answers to this question as there are people who would reply. Everyone has an opinion, some people have several.

We have become distracted. The debates in Baptist life have multiplied: The Great Commission Resurgence vs. Traditional Cooperative Processes of Missions, Church Planting vs. Established Churches, Calvinism: To Be or not to Be, Ecumenicism vs Baptist Identity, Pragmatism vs. Biblical methodology, etc...

These are issues that are not going to go away. However, they cannot continue to be the focus of our SBC life if we are to make a difference in our nation and our world. We are losing the battle for the souls of men. 

We should be driven to our knees over the decline in the number of people baptized. This is not an anomaly, this is the pattern of numerous years. Another year of decline will cause us to drop below 3000,000 people being baptized in a single year. For the first time in my recollection it now takes 50 Southern Baptists to baptize one person during the year. This is heartbreaking. It will not matter that we have the largest missions boards and the "finest" church planting networks if we continue to decline in the number of people won to Christ and baptized each year.

We need less talking and more doing. It is not lost on many that during years since the Great Commission  Resurgence report was adopted we have lost an identifiable working program/strategy of Evangelism and Discipleship. The North American Mission Board was assigned these responsibilities, as well as the responsibility for Church Planting under the GCR report. In the North American Mission Board's push to reach the goal of using 50% of their budget for Church Planting; Evangelism and Discipleship have been relegated to a back room. It appears that the specific Biblical mandates of Evangelism and Discipleship are not as important as the more pragmatic approaches of Church Planting through the SEND city emphasis. 

We must start new churches. There is a great need in the cities that make up the SEND City emphasis as well as other geographic regions of our nation. However, there are also great needs in our existing churches and the rest of America that is not a part of the SEND City emphasis. The North American Mission Board has the responsibility to present Southern Baptists with a cohesive and challenging ministry of Evangelism to reach the lost in America and Discipleship to cause them to become sold out followers of Jesus Christ. We must not deceive ourselves into believing that a mail out of Bibles to our churches constitutes an evangelism plan.

Some years ago I listened to a pastor preach from the Beatitudes. He added an additional Beatitude; "Blessed are the Balanced, for they shall not fall." Baptists do what they are led to do. We need leadership nationally, we need leadership in our state conventions, we need leadership in our associations and we need leadership in our churches that will bring us back to the necessity to obey Christ in the winning of lost souls. God grant that we may draw a balance in our work. A balance that includes an equal emphasis on Evangelism, Discipleship and Church Planting.

God in Heaven weeps and Satan in Hell rejoices over the continued decline in Baptisms in Southern Baptist life. We must set aside the rhetoric and the debate and be about our Father's business of taking the gospel to a lost and dying world.

Attempting to Connect the Dots...



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