Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Elephant In The Room of SBC Declining Numbers

There is an "elephant in the room" of the Southern Baptist Convention when the issue of declining numbers is brought up. I must admit up front that I have a lot of questions and few answers. I keep hearing about the latest programs and strategies that experts tell us will grow the Kingdom of God. I also keep hearing about the problems that plague us and are the cause of decline such as legalism. We then have those that argue we need to enlarge the Baptist tent by setting aside theological differences to only the most primary doctrines (i.e. salvation). There is no end to the criticism within the SBC. But what is not being talked about is a sad reality that I wish was not ture and pray that it is not. But the evidence is to the contrary, and we need to admit to its possibility as the real reason our number of baptisms are declining in the SBC, and why every evangelical denomination is seeing a decline in numbers.

So what is the "elephant in the room"? Could it be apostasy? Has the United States turned her back on God? We once humbly, publicly and officially proclaimed God as Sovereign and Lord and we as a nation repeatedly asked for His blessings and guidance upon our land and our leaders. But no more. As a nation, we have forsaken the Lord God. Has not our country become so secular, pluralistic, materialistic and humanistic that we are becoming more like Europe, where the hearts of the people are outright rejecting any semblance of anything to do with God? Is God turning our country over to the evil desires of her heart?

What is some of the evidence of a national apostasy of the United States of America?
  • Pluralism - America has rejected the One True God.
  • Antagonism towards God - working hard to push God completely out of the public square.
  • Abortion - we as a nation have murdered nearly 51 million babies since 1973.
  • Gross sexual immorality - America is fast becoming one of the most sexually hedonistic cultures in history.
There is a plethora of evidence that one could use, but might not our declining numbers be indicative of a nation that is apostate and thus we are reaping what we as a nation has sown? We can not ignore the possibility that the decline in numbers is due to sin, and like in the days of Noah, most will not repent. Scripture and history are both replete with examples of the faithful proclamation of the Gospel yet with limited or no conversions. Though there is nothing inherently wrong with looking at our numbers, I would say that it is more important to be faithfully about the business of God no matter what our numbers are.

Simply put, might our declining numbers be (at least in part) due to an apostate unrepentant nation? My final question is this: How do we contend with apostasy?

Again, it is by being faithful to all of the Word of God. It is in working to fulfill ALL of the Great Commission:
  • Going.
  • Making disciples of all nations.
  • Immersing (baptizing) those disciples in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
  • Teaching them to observe ALL that Christ commanded.
Doing this does ot necessarily mean our numbers will not decline. It does not even mean that we will see apostasy abated in our nation. But not doing this (ALL of the Great Commission) relegates anything else we do to be for naught.

Blessings,

Ron P.

4 comments:

Robin Foster said...

Ron

Excellent post.

Robin

Ron Phillips, Sr. said...

Robin,

Thank you. I hope you enjoyed the SBC.

God Bless,

Ron P.

Grosey's Messages said...

Hi Ron,
Great thoughts...our country here is heavily secularised, but the issues are actually the same. If churches (pastors particularly) will get on with the business of trying to win people to Christ and motivating their churches to do likewise, these trends are reversed. Hey.. I got to lead half a congregation in one SBC church in Alabama to saving faith last month.. I guess that just indicates that if we do the work anywhere there will be response by God's grace.
Steve

Ron Phillips, Sr. said...

Steve,

Thanks for stopping by. I agree. We need to be doing God's business - no matter what the response is.

Blessings,

Ron P.