Reasons for the Decline of the Southern Baptist Convention

Thomas S. Kidd and Barry Hankins, professors of history at Baylor University, write that the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is in decline because its members have, for the most part, lost their commitment to evangelism. SBC parents have also struggled to retain their children, while allowing their doctrine to become diluted by a kind of American deism and political involvement in the Republican party.

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Why this story matters to church leaders:

Whether or not you agree with Kidd and Hankins, are there ways the three points of their critique can help your church focus its ministry?

  • Do politics get in the way? Political parties have become synonymous with certain denominations, but there is a vocal movement in the SBC arguing against aligning with a specific party.
  • Retaining youth: To what degree have churches either alienated or isolated younger members who are crucial for their futures?
  • American theology? Kidd and Hankins note that some churches have mixed American values with their theology. Where have you seen this happen?

How can your church keep politics from impacting the gospel message?

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  • Jonathan McLain June 20, 2016 Reply

    Wouldn’t you also have to ask yourself “How would a political bias of the writer of professor of Baylor affect this article? It would seem that a liberal leaning professor would skew toward blaming GOP for the SBCs woes. Could Evanglism be down because we have deephasized the importance of Revivals in our local churches, (by revivals I mean bringing in Evangelist for Evangelistic events)

  • Tamara June 20, 2016 Reply

    I think the biggest reason for decline (in all Denominations, not just the SBC) is it’s inability to do real meaningful ministry and evangelism. Let’s be honest, the church is still living in a 1950’s church model. The reality is that ministry has changed and denominations and churches that don’t adapt and live into a more relationship based ministry model are going to die. Many declining and dying churches are doing so because they have for a long time relied on people within the church having kids who grow up and stay in the community/church. We are a much more mobile nation, and our comfort in being okay with our own people – not living with a genuine heart for the lost of our communities to reach people for Christ and to shine His light in the darkness – has resulted in major trends of church decline. If the 1950’s come back – the church is ready – but we won’t go back to the 1950’s, and the church will remain bitter about it’s decline – the bitterness is evident in the lack of concern for the people around it. If the church would get off it’s high horse on some of the issues and focus on loving people – then perhaps people might start listening to the” Good News”…as it seems right now…the church doesn’t seem to have much good news and will blame everything else instead of embracing reality and getting up out of the pew to do something about it.

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