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There is a secret inside many churches. According to researchers Scott Thumma and Warren Bird, most churches – mega-sized and small, black and white – are actually run by 20 percent of the congregation. The other 80 percent, they say, tend to act like spectators: they are minimally involved and attend infrequently or not at all. A National Congregation Survey shows the Southern Baptist Convention had a membership of 16,160,088 people in 2008, but a yearly attendance rate of 38 percent. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America had a membership of 4,542,868 in 2009, but the yearly attendance rated rested at 28 percent. Though many churches are struggling to boost attendance and participation, Thumma states, pastors and church leaders rarely address the issue. “So many pastors that I’ve talked to recognize the problem, don’t know what to do about it and then instead of trying to tackle it, they kind of put it aside,” described Thumma. Only 28 percent of pastors reported that spiritual growth was an important area of development in 2011 in the Barna poll. Even fewer pastors –19 percent – reported that engagement was an important area for development. Spiritual engagement, however, becomes more important the longer a congregant remains in the church, Thumma stresses. The top reason given for decreased participation in the last two years is faith has gotten weaker, according to a cited Parish Inventory Survey. Yet very few churches have programs for long-standing members, he says. “Once you’ve been at the church for five years, 10 years, 20 years, 40 years, there’s hardly any programs aimed at those groups to continually keep them engaged,” laments Thumma. The book recommends churches first correct this error by forming a listening team. The goal of the team is to conduct individual interviews with members to find out how they want and need to be nurtured spiritually. When authors Thumma and Bird employed this approach to write The Other 80 Percent, inactive congregants shared that issues such as no close friendship, and a lack of adult classes led to their decreased role in the church. Second, churches are urged to create a learning team to uncover the external social and cultural dynamics in their communities hampering members’ church involvement. The team may learn that a Sunday morning sports league is keeping church youth and their parents from service. The learning team can also discover new areas for ministry such as a food assistance program to reach a low-income community. via Churches’ Dilemma: 80 Percent of Flock Is Inactive, Christian News. THOUGHTS?  How’s this living out in YOUR church?  Seem representative? Todd

Current Events
Southern Baptists recently called hell an “eternal, conscious punishment” for those who do not accept Jesus, rebutting a controversial book from Michigan pastor Rob Bell that questions traditional views of hell. Citing Bell’s book “Love Wins,” the resolution urges Southern Baptists “to proclaim faithfully the depth and gravity of sin against a holy God, the reality of hell, and the salvation of sinners by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, to the glory of God alone.” OK… I get it.  Affirming hell.  A good thing. But did anyone question whether Southern Baptists didn’t believe in Hell?  I’ve definitely never heard anyone say that. So, the statement, to me, seems to be totally reactionary to one book published by someone not in your tribe. Which begs the question to me… who was this statement for? If it was for Rob Bell, then I’m not sure what it accomplishes, other than to say that you have profound impact on the Christian community, especially our own SBC pastors. If it was for the SBC pastors, then it says that you need to preach against hell.  Most do, as far as I can tell. If it was for the SBC congregations, that’s good, but I don’t know that Rob Bell’s book was read by tons of congregational people.  Their too busy reading Stephen King and John Grisham. And if it was for the public at large, I don’t know that it will have much of an effect.  It could be seen as ‘we still believe in hell and we still believe you’re going there’. I’m not trying to be too harsh… I’m just wondering what the real purpose of the resolution was.  Was it necessary?  And should resolutions by such a large body be made over one isolated published work? You tell me. More here… Todd

So… how are the denominations doing these days?  Not so well.  Here is the top ten of denominations in the United States as reported by the new 2010 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, as well as their increase of decrease over the past year. 1. The Catholic Church: 68.1 million, up 1.49 percent. 2. Southern Baptist Convention: 16.2 million, down 0.24 percent. 3. The United Methodist Church: 7.8 million (U.S.), down 0.98 percent. 4. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: 5.9 million (U.S.), up 1.71 percent. 5. The Church of God in Christ: 5.5 million, no change. 6. National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc: 5 million, no change. 7. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: 4.6 million, down 1.62 percent. 8. National Baptist Convention of America, Inc.: 3.5 million, no change. 9. Assemblies of God: 2.9 million, up 1.27 percent. 10. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.); 2.8 million, down 3.28 percent. More here… Any thoughts? Todd

Catch these words from Peter Lumpkins, a SBC pastor who recently wrote the book:  Alcohol Today:  Abstinence in an Age of Indulgence:
“One would be hard-pressed to locate a belief — outside believers’ baptism by immersion itself — which reflects more unity among Southern Baptists than abstinence from intoxicating beverages for pleasurable purposes…
According to a report from Associated Baptist press, Lumpkins says that younger Southern Baptist leaders do not appreciate that history and instead view teetotalism as extra-biblical and nothing more than “Pharisaical legalism.”  He says that ‘relaxed attitudes’ about social drinking is the biggest controversy to hit Southern Baptists since the big showdown in the 80s over conservative vs. liberals in the SBC. He continues…
“Make no mistake: the popular, trendy appeal for Bible studies in bars; pastors leading men’s groups at cigar shops to puff, preach and partake; conference speakers who openly drink alcohol nevertheless are invited to college campuses as they carve out yet more influence into the youngest generation of Southern Baptists — all this makes an impending moral crisis among Southern Baptists predictably certain.”
This paragraph in the article stood out to me:
Without the abstinence standard, he argues the church either consciously or unconsciously helps promote a message in the larger culture that drinking is “cool.”
What do YOU think? Is social drinking wrong?  If you’re a Southern Baptist… what’s your personal view on social drinking? And finally… where will the SBC finally come down on this?  What will the stance of the SBC be on social drinking be, in say, 10 years, in 2021?  What’s your guess? Read more here… Todd

Rev. Mimi Walker was ordained in 2003 and serves as co-pastor with her husband of Druid Hills Baptist Church.  That’s the sole reason that the Georgia Baptist Convention wants to remove the church from its role. The 52 year old former missionary wonders why. “It seems sad that they decided to go backwards in time…I’m not sure what the value is of trying to go back in time when women were held in subservience.” More from an article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution: The GBC’s executive committee made the recommendation to sever ties with the church at a March 16 meeting. If its recommendation is approved at the annual convention in November, the GBC would no longer accept money from Druid Hills for missions and programs, nor would the church be able to send delegates — called messengers — to future annual meetings. “…Druid Hills Baptist Church of Atlanta is not a cooperating church as defined in Article II, Section 1 of the constitution because a woman is serving as co-pastor of the church,” the GBC said in a statement. “We are keeping faith with the Baptist Faith and Message with regard to women serving as pastor,” GBC executive director J. Robert White said in a statement. “The GBC has never been opposed to women serving in ministry positions other than pastor.” The Georgia Baptist Convention, an affiliate of the Nashville-based Southern Baptist Convention, has roughly 3,600 churches. There are 41 state conventions throughout the country. The Georgia convention is one of the 41 affiliates, but it has its own constitution and bylaws. The church will prepare a response if the GBC should “dis-fellowship” it, the Rev. Graham Walker said. — You can read the whole article here… What do you think?  Regardless of your view of women in ministry, is this something that is worth dis-fellowshipping over? Todd