Southern Baptist by Choice

I have some observations about my denominational affiliations that I have to get off my chest. You may or may not agree with me, that’s your choice. These are strictly personal opinions and thoughts. You must understand this is from a man who came out of a Southern Baptist home and was saved under the ministry of a Southern Baptist Church. I am Southern Baptist by choice and committed. I have some very real concerns about the longevity of Southern Baptist efforts stateside and abroad with the current trends in our convention. Sometimes when you make observations, you are labeled. I think that’s unfortunate. I’m simply calling it as I see it – from my vantage point. I’ve been in ministry long enough to make these observations.

Our convention is graying, our influence declining, and many of our churches dying. This is an accurate depiction, it is our denomination’s reality. To deny it is to stick your head in the sand and wish away the impending doom. You can’t click your heels and wish your way back to Kansas anymore. Just site the observations by Dr. Frank Page in his recent study. Our churches are getting older without the influx of the younger subsequent generations. It is just a matter of time until many of our congregations fade away into non-existence. What a waste of effort, people, and finances!

I believe there are a substantial number of Southern Baptist leaders on national, state, and local levels who exist isolated and insulated from current cultural realities. We have people making decisions who don’t have a clue how to relate, reach or engage a lost person in today’s culture. Decisions are made based with Baptist biases without regard for relevant methodologies. This not only concerns me, it scares me. Sometimes I feel like our convention is stuck somewhere in the mid 1950’s. The organizational structure, priorities, and methodologies exhibit practices indicative of that context. Somewhere along the way we’ve lost our ability to engage culture.

Well, do you have some advice? I’m glad you asked. Here’s a couple. Quit playing politics and become more intentional and strategic in kingdom building efforts. Political correctness will destroy an organization and sterilize its influence. We need to be reminded it is not about religion, it’s about the relationship. People desperately want to see what authentic Christian faith looks like; they want to see it demonstrated. The emerging cultures are not interested in the games, suits, hierarchical leadership, masks, and superficiality. There are enough games to be played in life; they’re just looking for honest faith. Finally, we need to put into practice Paul’s strategy for engaging a culture – relevance, relevance, and relevance.

The time is now to make a difference. The time is now for Southern Baptists to rise. It’s time for us to engage our culture with authentic faith. It is time!