Where do we go now? Membership, Attendance, Baptisms, and Giving Down in the Southern Baptist Convention
On May 28, 2014, LifeWay Christian Resources, in cooperation with Baptist state conventions, released their Annual Church Profile report. While celebrating an increase of 91 net churches, taking our total number of churches to 46,125 churches, along with our now 4,789 church-type missions, overall, we registered a:
This trajectory we are on is approaching a danger zone unlike anything we have seen before in our generation. As a pastor, questions abound, such as:
- Will we face the reality of where we are?
- Will this decline continue?
- Will we see an acceleration of this decline?
- Will we ever see a reversal of our present direction?
While these questions are real, I would like to answer a question that every Southern Baptist pastor, layperson, church, and leader needs to answer for themselves and the ministry they lead or are a part of. The question is…
Where do we go now?
I have been active in Southern Baptist life for years. Over the years, we have never lacked for urgent pleas by leadership, evangelistic initiatives, new, exciting resources, or commitments made regarding one or all of these. Yet, we continue to decline.
Could it be that we are coming to an end of ourselves, realizing we cannot get this done on our own? The culture is becoming more unfriendly to the gospel, and our convention of churches is becoming known for decline. Even the recent report regarding our lack of baptisms, as a convention, received attention by secular periodicals. In fact, if you missed my evaluation of that, please read about it here.
Where do we go now?
1. We need a Great Awakening!
It is time we realize we cannot reverse where we are on our own. It is time to seek the Lord! Yes, we need a Great Awakening. For months, I have been calling upon Southern Baptist pastors and leaders to come together to call out to God in extraordinary prayer. Why? I wrote last week what I have been saying and will say again today:
There is no great movement of God that ever occurs that is not first preceded by the extraordinary prayer of God’s people.
If our personal conviction from God’s Word and the history of the church does not convince us of the need for extraordinary prayer, perhaps the continual statistical decline of the Southern Baptist Convention will. Our number one need is to begin to call out together to God in extraordinary prayer for the next great spiritual awakening in America.
Without question, it is time to seek the Lord together. We need a Great Awakening!
2. We need to accelerate our pace of completing the Great Commission!
Our “business as usual” pace will not reverse the decline. Through God’s power, we need to rise up, come together like never before, and accelerate our pace of completing the Great Commission. In a recent interview with Baptist Press, I spoke to this specific need.
We need to review what we say we believe about the lostness of humanity, the power of the gospel, our hope for heaven, and making disciples of all the nations. When we do this, we will accelerate our pace of completing the Great Commission.
Unquestionably, it is past time for us to deny ourselves, cease any infighting or quarrels, remove the walls of bias, division, and preferences, and in Jesus’ name, deny ourselves, come together, and accelerate our pace of completing the Great Commission in our generation. We need a massive spiritual movement of extraordinary prayer for a Great Awakening and a massive strategic movement toward accelerating our pace of completing the Great Commission. While both need immediate action, I know the former is imperative ultimately to the latter.
Yours for the Great Commission,
Ronnie W. Floyd