Another annual report released by the Southern Baptists has revealed that their denomination is losing members and baptizing fewer people, an issue that was discussed at the organization’s annual meeting. According to Reverend Fred Luter, outgoing president of the organization, the older methods to spread the gospel are clashing with a newer culture that is young and diverse and does not necessarily view sinning as a priority.
“Our society is just not what it used to be. When I grew up there was a challenge by parents in the home that our sons and daughters would be in church. It was a given. That day and time is gone,” said Luter.
Luter said he would address the issue that is a growing concern at this year’s annual meeting, which was scheduled to be held on June 10 and 11 in Baltimore.
While some feel that the 15.7 million member denomination is still not inclusive of all races and ethnicities, Luter, Southern Baptists’ first African-American president, believes the main reason for decline is the fact that not all congregations have played an active role in evangelism.
“We have just not been very active in doing what we can to reach the lost and the unchurched in our nation,” said the 57-year-old pastor from New Orleans.
However, Reverend Jared Moore, pastor of a small church in Hustonville, Kentucky, said the trends show seven straight years of declining membership and this is not something an individual can reverse.
“It’s something that God must bring about… It takes a lot more time, a lot more conversations than it did 50 years ago to succeed in evangelism when some people don’t consider themselves sinners. I think we’ve got to stay the course, continue preaching the gospel, even when the ears of our community is closed,” he said.
According to David Roozen, director of the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, Southern Baptists are facing challenges both theologically as well as sociologically. While the former do not need a conversation, the latter wanes agreement with traditional world views.
“It’s a tough world out there at this particular time and there’s not a lot of easy answers. There’s little fixes but they probably don’t address the root challenges,” said Roozen, who said the Southern Baptists are joining mainline Protestants in the hand wringing about declines.
So it seems that their proposed solution is to keep doing what they've been doing and let god handle it...? I'm pretty sure that is defined as insanity. That may have something to do with this membership decline.