The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is still the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S. but it is facing some challenges as new numbers released for 2013 reveal a decline in their statistics. Stats released by Lifeway Christian Resources show that the number of members in SBC churches went down 0.9% and regular Sunday worship attendance went down 2.21%.
Although the number of baptisms was slightly up over 2012 numbers, baptisms continued to decline. There have been changes in how the SBC records missionary work, so the numbers are mixed when it comes to giving towards missions and the total number of missions. One bright spot in the stats is that more congregations joined the SBC (up .2% over 2012).
Thomas S. Rainer of LifeWay believes the SBC is losing its evangelistic focus and says he is praying for renewal and revival in the denomination, while Frank Page of the SBC Executive Committee believes members are not as vigilant and committed to God as they once were and agrees with Rainer on the lack of passion to win the lost to Christ.
Additionally, Pastor Robert Jeffress of the First Baptist Church of Dallas has noted that some SBC churches have been reluctant to label certain actions sin by sticking to what the Bible says. This was his statement in response to a recent report from a pro-homosexual group stating that SBC leaders are becoming more accepting of homosexual behavior. Jeffress stated “…we all want to be compassionate when we deal with any sin… We ought to assure everybody that there’s no such thing as an unpardonable sin… [but] it doesn’t matter how much you smile, how much you show compassion, …if you label homosexuality as a sin you’re going to be labeled as ‘intolerant’ and a ‘hate-monger.'”
However, the SBC’s moves toward compromising the gospel have been going on for decades and these recent revelations reflect that they are reaping what they’ve sown for some time, just as in other denominations and Christian churches in general. When the ‘free sex’ movement of the late 1950s to the early 1970s swept across the U.S., the SBC eventually compromised by accepting fornication in their midst. But even before that, it should be noted that a very large number of leaders in that denomination are Freemasons. As Paul warned us ages ago, ‘a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump’ (1 Corinthians 5:6-7), so when you see the people of God willing to compromise and accept a little sin, it won’t be too long before they will accept a lot of sin.
Too many SBC leaders have been willing to ‘give place to the devil’ in their Masonic affiliations, which has encouraged unholy alliances and ungodly compromises leading to fearing men above God. Furthermore, many of them also deny some of the gifts and administrations of the Holy Spirit (like prophecy, tongues, and miraculous healing), which can also weaken churches. Then there’s denominationalism, placing the traditions of SBC doctrines above God’s word–not to mention the inability of knowing how to contend for the faith with sound apologetics. Add all that to a society growing in hostility to all things godly and you get the results that we see in this LifeWay report.
Carol Pipes. Baptism, worship declines prompt leaders’ prayers. BRnow.org. May 29, 2014.
Charlie Butts. Jeffress: Define ‘sin’ using the Bible, not the culture. OneNewsNow.com. May 28, 2014.
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:20
Harry A. Gaylord