The Southern Baptist Convention released some news this week that should be a wakeup call to many pastors and churches around the country. The SBC is the largest protestant denomination in the country with over 16 million members. The big news was that the national membership actually decreased for the first time. If you look at the graph below, you can see that this is not a surprise, the membership has plateaued and is now declining.
Why is this important to me? I have grown up in SBC churches, I was licensed and ordained through the SBC, and I still think that it is a great denomination that is focused on solid Biblical theology and practice. But I am concerned because of the growing traditionalism that is prevalent throughout the SBC. Many of the new churches and church plants have simply not been accepted into Baptist life because they do things differently from the way church was done in the 50’s.
Ed Stetzer from Lifeway Research has a great post on the news that was released. Ed is a voice of reason within the SBC and I think he has some great ideas about what needs to be done to get the focus back on people and away from politics and in-fighting. It will take the SBC realizing that churches can be culturally relevant AND Biblically faithful. I hope and pray that this news will be a catalyst for change within the domination.
I do think that we will see networks of churches outside of traditional denominations continue to grow. Check out the links and pictures below for some more info.