Last week the research department at LifeWay released the results for the 2018 SBC Annual Church Profile Data. Unfortunately, the data and change is not good. This will make 12 consecutive years of losses in membership, churches, and baptisms (in some statistics it could go back 20 years as the decline has slowly eaten away in our convention). This is not shocking news to me because I have always been fascinated by statistics and the stories they tell. I recognize that statistics can often be shaded to tell a story that fits a particular groups narrative. In this case, I find no such good news no matter who is trying to spin it. Straight up...if the people of God don’t wake up soon we are facing absolute and total irrelevance. While I believe and have EVERY HOPE in the GOSPEL and the one who embodies it JESUS, and while I believe that the church of Jesus and its mission WILL PREVAIL (read the GOSPELS and the last chapter of the NT, Christ WON over sin and death and ultimately the battle), there is not a lot of good news on the immediate condition of His church or His mission.
That all being stated, it makes the challenge I placed before our churches at the Fall meeting of 2018 for each church to re-commit themselves to the GREAT COMMISSION and seek to engage those lost and far from God all around our churches and communities. I challenged our churches to baptize 10,000 NEW DISCIPLES over the next 10 years (#10K4NKBA)! Each local church pastor has been sent a goal to reach that is based on each church’s history. If you want to know what the goal for your church is, feel free to contact us at the NKBA and we will share that information with you, but I hope your pastors have already done so.
To me, this all comes down to OBEDIENCE. Are we willing to be obedient to Christ and His Command? Are we willing to live under His Lordship? Do we REALLY BELIEVE that the Bible is the Word of God? If so, why aren’t we obedient to the absolute clarity of the call to “Love one another” and to “Make Disciples?”
In five years as your DOM and in 42+ plus years of ministry experience in the local church I see many churches operating with an insider mentality, one of scarcity, not abundance, and overwhelmingly decisions are being made because of COMFORT (personal preferences), CONVENIENCE (don’t ask me to do something I’m uncomfortable with even IF the Bible DOES say so), and CONTROL (I WANT WHAT I WANT! PERIOD!) The legend Pastor, Warren Wiersbe said, “Sometimes God’s greatest judgment is to give us what we want.” I believe this is why the church is in the situation that it is in America. We have followed the same path that Christians in Europe did and we have a very similar result...to a great extent MANY CHURCHES ARE DEAD AND DYING (NOT the churches that are walking in OBEDIENCE, but the ones who are walking in DISOBEDIENCE)!
Pastor Michael Catt at Sherwood Baptist Church in Georgia said, “This trend will continue and the downward spiral will increase IF WE DON’T REPENT and cry out for God to revive His church. Our dependence on “programs” have gotten us in this mess. PRAYER IS THE KEY TO GET US OUT OF IT!”
AMEN...SO BE IT! My prayer his that whatever it takes to get our attention, I pray God will do it. We have little margin to work with...people are dying and going to Hell while many of our churches and leaders act as if they do not care. Can I say it any more clearly?REPENT...PRAY...OBEY! There is NO OTHER WAY! WAKE UP SLEEPING CHURCH! FOLLOW JESUS!
Your Lead Follower,