Theological, Historical, and Pastoral Reflections
In response, Ascol said, "That's a sad reality. Even Jesus can't tell some Southern Baptists what to do."Sad but true! Thanks for linking to this. Pretty balanced article, on the whole.Wyman
One more thought: Johnny Hunt's comment about having over six thousand on any given Sunday but around ten thousand total when you look at all of the Sundays of any month is, in my opinion, a bit off the mark.Regenerate church membership is much more than being in a pew every so often, and I fear that comments like that reduce the issue to just that kind of minimalist idea. The attendance statistics cited in Resolution 6 are meant, as I see it, to show one symptom of a greater sickness. Regenerate church membership is more than that one symptom, but not less.
Johnny Hunt's church has 41% of its members attend on any given Sunday and 61% of its members attend attend at least one service over the course of a month.59% of his church membership do not attend church on any given Sunday and 39% don't make it to at least one service over the course of a month.Almost 2 out of 5 "members" don't make it to church in a month and Mr. Hunt says "We have to be very careful...If you try to take this to the lowest common denominator, before too long, you'll find the pastors and the church leadership trying to separate the sheep from the goats, and only Jesus and the angels he assigned can do that."Is this guy serious? Lowest common denominator? He wants lowest common denominator? How about 5? Two of which don't show up to his church in a month. And he says we have to be very careful?That sounds more like the advice I would expect from the U.N. rather than the president of the SBC.
Wyman:Thanks for pointing that out. Regenerate church membership certainly involves more than having members who merely attend gatherings of the church for worship. The tragedy is that even this minimalistic standard of gauging a church's health reflects serious problems throughout the SBC. Stan:You make an excellent point. The kind of culture that has been created in the SBC over the last 60-70 years encourages the celebration of churches who never see large percentages of their members even gathering for worship. When you factor in the reality that many of those who do gather on any given Sunday in our worship services are not members, then the percentages are even more dismal.Hopefully, as more and more pastors and church leaders start reevaluating these issues in the light of what the Bible says a church is we will see this kind of mindset change.
In working with several churches I crunched some numbers regarding new members. Y'all may already be aware of this sort of thing, but I found out, for example, that new members were not participating in Bible study/Sunday school. Over a two year period, only 17% of new members attended at least 75% of the time in the churches I surveyed.When you factor in attendance at other services -- Sunday evening and Wednesdays -- the number gets even smaller.This is bad enough, but also troubling is that fact that members are oblivious to the situation, and are shocked to hear of it.All the more reason, then, to encourage biblical discipline in this area.
Rob:Those figures fit with what I have read and seen from others. It would be great if LifeWay Research would do a study of those baptized in SBC churches, to see what happens to them after 1, 2, 3, and 4 years. I fear that in many cases, it would be eye-opening.
I'm thankful for the resolution, but wonder if it will even be mentioned in most Southern Baptist churches. Being able to be a life-long member without ever having to attend seems to be such a long standing tradition. Keep up the good fight. I'm currently reading Jerry Sutton's The Baptist Reformation. Sounds like it's not over yet.
Could it be the repentance clause is still a thorn in the side of some? And maybe that is the problem.
Debbie:I think you are probably right. Some has suggested that the Resolutions Committee was embarrassed to have had such a high profile resolution significantly amended from the floor. John:I have heard from several pastors and others who have used the resolution in their churches already. For example, Denny Burk read it to the Wednesday night gathering at FBC Dallas. Blessings,tom
Brother Tom,I, for one, was not embarassed when the resolution was amended from the floor. As a matter of fact, I was pleased with how gracious you and Brother Yarnell were to us on the stage.I did blush as we (the committee) flew under the banner of "let the baby live."Grace to you,Kevin Smith
I've believed for some time that the non-member attendee was a huge story that wasn't being told. Has there been any research as to the percentage of attendees that haven't become members?My experience has been that a very high percentage of attendees in mega churches are not members. It wouldn't surprise me if that number was in the 15 to 20% range. (I only mention mega churches because that's where my personal experience has been. Not because I believe the problem is limited to them.)If my gut feeling is anywhere close to being correct, we are in a far more miserable state than even the numbers indicate.
Kevin:Thanks for your service on that committee and for your comment here. The Lord used it all in a wonderful way. Bill:Your estimates seem reasonable to me. And I agree with you that the reported attendance figures are probably very conservative on that basis.
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