The Disntr recently reported that the Southern Baptist Convention has lost large numbers of members and churches during recent years. That website attributes this loss, in part, to abandoning biblical fidelity and adopting more progressive cultural stances.
One example is the leader of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission– Brent Leatherwood. We had previously reported that he recently advocated for greater gun control measures. He is now asking Congress to pass amnesty for illegal immigrants. His predecessor, Russell Moore, was also an “open borders” guy tied up with George Soros.
What other factors are leading the SBC to lose members and churches? Certainly we can discuss cultural trends toward secularism; and the attributes that young adults tend to seek in churches.
But a major figure in Southern Baptist life– Dr. Charles Kelley– has written a book on this topic. He is the former president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. The book’s title is The Best Intentions: How a Plan to Revitalize the SBC Accelerated Its Decline. You can buy it here.
Kelley points out that the SBC enacted during 2010 an initiative called the Great Commission Resurgence. Certain administrative changes were made. But greater emphasis was placed upon church planting by the North American Mission Board– and less emphasis was placed upon evangelism.
Kelley argues that the Great Commission Resurgence plan has not worked. In addition, he states the following:
The Southern Baptist Convention is not a tool for managing autonomous churches, conventions, and entities. The Convention is a tool for enlisting independent churches in
a mighty cooperative effort to seek the salvation of every person on earth through Jesus
Christ and to overwhelm the darkness of a broken world with the radiance of disciples
living their lives in accordance with God’s Word. We do that best when the outcomes
of our strategies inspire us.
Southern Baptists are a family of churches that did the unthinkable, trading the
glory and immediate satisfaction of acting alone for the immense power unleashed
by cooperation, embracing the same mission (the Great Commission) and paying for
it with a common purse (the Cooperative Program).
The politicization of the handling of sexual abuse allegations was an attempt to “manage autonomous churches”. It should not have happened at the national level.
I suspect that Dr. Kelley’s book will be quite informative, and I ordered myself a copy. It will be interesting to hear what he has to say. It is tragic what has happened to the denomination in such a short period of time, but the wrong people were put in charge.