The New Methodists Reflections on the SBC Today Dr. Chuck Kelley In 1945 SBC Baptized 257,000 In 1955 SBC Baptized 417,000 WOW! Farmers need land (church planting) Climate (decisional preaching) Farmers plant Seed (Personal Evangelism) Farmers cultivate after planting (Biblelationships) Farmers harvest (Revival Meetings) The Key: Not Methods SBC Genius the InTeGraTeD Process Old McBaptist, with Land = Church Planting Climate = Decisional Preaching Plant = Personal Evangelism Cultivate = Sunday School Harvest = Revival Meetings Had a GREAT Process! The SBC Way of Doing Church Unconsciously Embodied the Biblical Process of Sowing and Reaping I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6) In 1945, SBC Baptized 257,000 In 1955, SBC Baptized 417,000 Since 1955, SBC has never baptized 450,000 What Happened to the Farm? Southern Baptists are a Harvest-Oriented Denomination Living In the Midst of an Unseeded Generation But Now I Say: We are more like Gardeners working the Window Boxes than Farmers working the Fields We are the Grandchildren of Farmers Keeping Harvest Stories Alive Over Coffee & Dessert at Family Reunions Methods Not Crucial Issue Bible speaks little of methods Fire, Oven, Microwave Accomplish Same Purpose Tasks always Outlive Methods (Even Yours!) Money Not Crucial Issue 1906 – Created Evangelism Department with NO Budget 1936 – Relaunched Evangelism Department with ONE Person 1945-55 – THREE People in Evangelism Department Gospel’s Power Not Crucial Issue Angola Prison –Worst Setting –Worst Prospects –Awesome Results Discipleship the Crucial Issue The farmer, not the harvest, is the root of problems in SBC Evangelism 1. We are not Anointed • Conversion – Work of the Spirit • Revival – Work of the Spirit Neither Conversions Nor Revival Typical SBC Churches We are Distracted • • • • By a quest for Methods By Theological Identity By Fiscal Restructuring By Uncertainty Today we are more like a driver in unfamiliar territory than a racer roaring down the track. 3. More Importantly Southern Baptists are Becoming the New Methodists I Love Methodists! Key Role in Two Awakenings Evangelized American Frontier Holy Living a Core Value Taught SBC about Harvesting Today’s Methodists Evangelism and Missions Greatly Diminished Behavior Blending with Culture Greatest Theological Fight Over Normalcy of Homosexuality Setting Records for Decline SBC as the New Methodists • • • • Universalism Settling into our Pews Tolerance Overtaking Conviction Behavior Blending with Culture Plateau Becoming Decline Since 1983 I have been saying 70% of SBC Churches are plateaued or declining If Traditional Measurement of Growth Used in 2007 Number of Growing Churches Same Number of Plateaued Churches Smaller Number of Declining Churches Larger 8,765 (28.0%) 13,323 (42.6%) 8,765 (28.0%) 13,323 (42.6%) 9,174 (29.3%) 8,765 (28.0%) Our Great Commission momentum as a Convention has vanished. SBC Discipleship Process 1. 2. 3. 4. Sunday Night Program January Bible Study Periodic Study Courses R.A.s/G.A.s/Youth Camp ETC. In era of our greatest growth typical SBC churches had more discipleship activities than evangelistic activities We were discipl-istic The Biblical Worldview that unconsciously inspired Church as Farm in SBC Life is like the baton for the USA Men’s Relay in the Beijing Olympics That Biblical Worldview Inspiring Evangelistic Discipleship Dropped Between SBC Generations We neither maintained nor reinvented discipleship process. While others run the race, we need a fresh grip on the baton of a dicipl-istic worldview Put Another Way: We put so much emphasis on how our way of Doing Church affected the LOST, we failed to notice how it was affecting the SAVED Changes made for church to be more welcoming to the unchurched, but little done to make evangelistic discipleship more desirable to believers The most significant and influential death in the modern history of the SBC was the death our Discipleship Process The defining characteristic of Southern Baptists at our best is a passionate evangelistic discipleship We refused to let go of one in order to pursue the other When we loosened our grip on one to strengthen our grip on the other, we ultimately weakened our grip on both DRAMATICALLY We do not know Who We Are The World does not know Who We Are Lost friends, neighbors do not know Who We Are Our problem is not that more of us don’t witness to our neighbors. Our problem is that more of us do not look like and live like Jesus. If we do not produce children, youth, and adults who live out a biblical worldview, no strategy for doing church will make us salt and light in the world Southern Baptists are not losing our voice We are losing the Distinctiveness of our voice in the music of today’s culture The Lesson Aggressive Evangelism without Aggressive Discipleship will eventually undo itself The Most Crucial Issue in SBC Evangelism Today is Reinventing a Process for Spiritual Maturity involving children, youth, and adults We need discipl-istic churches! Is there more to SBC problems than this? YES! But there is at least this! We are Becoming The New Methodists 2 Chronicles 7:14-15 ESV “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:19-20 ESV “But if you turn aside... Then I will pluck you up from my land… and this house that I have consecrated for my name, I will cast out of my sight...” In times past God has worked through our SBC Churches in a mighty way In times present God is not working in a mighty way through our churches If we do not repent now, only one question remains: To what wall will our children return to weep and remember the glory of what the SBC was?