Connecting the Dots in an Unconnected World

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Baptism Task Force

Recently, Baptist Press reported the establishment of a Task Force to Study the Decline in SBC Baptisms. As the article indicates the task force will be addressing the continued decrease in baptisms in SBC churches. Allow me some random thoughts concerning the task force.
  1. The NAMB is charged with the responsibility of leading the SBC in evangelism. It is correct and proper for them to, with urgency, address the issue and develop a strategy to lead us in turning around our baptismal decline.
  2. This is the second time in 4 years that we as a denomination have addressed this decline. In 2009 the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force brought a recommendation to the Southern Baptist Convention, that passed, which included restructuring, refocusing and reprioritizing our convention. All of this with the anticipation that we would see an increase in the number of people won to Christ and baptized. While, for some, it may be premature to assess the success of these actions, we are still in a steep decline.
  3. The task force includes several members of the GCR Task Force as well as a Chair of Evangelism from a seminary, a state Evangelism Director and a state Executive Director. I am certain that these are competent leaders who are committed to evangelism, however, it seems odd that there is not at least one representative from SBC Vocational Evangelists. This is a group of men and women who have committed their life and ministry to evangelism.
  4. We do not need to study the issue, we need to take immediate and decisive action.
Some personal thought concerning the problem:
  1. The problem is a local church issue. The denomination baptizes no one. While the denomination can and must provide inspiration and strategy, the local church is responsible for evangelizing.
  2. The problem is an obedience issue. Until our pastors, church planters, deacons, lay leaders and others return to obeying the command to win souls, baptize and disciple those won there will be no increase in baptisms.
  3. The problem is a spiritual issue. So many of our pastors and lay leaders are indifferent to the lost condition of those around them. This indifference is a spiritual problem. Jesus loved the lost enough to give His life for them. Surely, we can love Jesus and the lost enough to share the gospel with them.
  4. The problem is a theological problem. For some (not all) who fail to share their faith, feel no Biblical mandate to win the lost to Christ. This is problem includes both Calvinists  and traditional Baptists. I know pastors who have not shared Christ with a lost person in the past 30 days. It is little wonder baptisms are down.
  5. The problem is one of priority. If we are to be a Biblical people we must realize that Church Planting is the result of the harvest not the cause of the harvest. To be sure, we must plant new churches. However to place church planting before evangelism is to deny the Biblical precedent. We cannot claim Scripture Only and allow pragmatism to set our agenda. We must win the lost and plant new churches. This not an "either or" proposition, it is a "both and" proposition.
Finally, I make this suggestion to every person who is concerned about baptisms being down in the SBC.
  1. Today, go find a lost person and win them to Christ. 
  2. This month, find others in your local church that are concerned and train them in personal soul winning. 
  3. This year, lead your church to set a goal to baptize 5 more people this year than it did last year. 
  4. If every SBC church were to accomplish this it would increase our baptisms by more than 200,000 souls and set a new high water mark for the SBC.
Attempting to Connect the Dots...


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