I am glad to be a part of the Southern Baptist Convention. A great portion of my early Christian discipleship took place in an SBC church, I recieved my MDIV from an SBC seminary, and I currently serve as the Family Pastor of an SBC church.
As many of you know, roughly 30 years ago, the Conservative Resurgence began in the SBC and its effects have been far and wide. Today we can happily say that Biblical inerrancy and the exclusivity salvation in Christ is upheld by our Seminary presidents and professors. We can also rejoice that the Cooperative program funds more missionary endeavors than any other mission organization. However, statistically, the SBC is in decline–decline in membership, decline in the number of seminary graduates that are serving in SBC churches, and decline in baptisms.
Why the decline? I am not sure I am qualified to answer such a question, but I did read an interesting article on the subject on a blog I frequent from time to time. The article is found on Internet Monk, a blog by Michael Spencer, who is a member of an SBC church and a provocative blogger. If you are well read in the blogosphere, you have probably heard of iMonk, if not, his blog is certainly one to check out. I don’t always agree with Spencer (but that is part of what makes blogging and blog reading so much fun!) but I always find his posts insightful.
As someone loyal to the SBC, I want to say that Spencer’s observations are way off and that the SBC is much more unified than he thinks, but I have too often observed so many of the issues that Spencer brings up–I am afraid he is not too far from the mark in many of his observations. Spencer is not promoting an exodus from the SBC and by no means am I promoting leaving the SBC. I am hopeful for positive, gospel-centered growth in the SBC, but to see that happen, we as a Convention, need to be honest about our problems and I think Spencer’s article is stunningly honest about many of the problems present in the SBC today. The article will surely make you think and hopefully will serve to make you think about how to begin to address some of the problems in the SBC so that we as a Convention can begin to move toward more faithful gospel ministry!
So, if you haven’t yet, check out Spencer’s article, “Avoiding Death by Nostalgia: My Denomination (The SBC) Today” and his follow-up post titled, “A Great Commission Resurgence: Is it a Possible SBC Future?” Spencer’s follow-up post is perhaps more important than the first post, because in this post, he offers a worthy solution to many of our problems.
Check out these articles as you have time and feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section of this post about where you feel the SBC is headed and how we might direct it in a more faithful, Christ-honoring direction!