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Discussion Forum : News and Current Events : Southern Baptists on the Decline

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lovejt
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Joined: 2005/11/5
Posts: 123


 Re:

sorry, meant to pm


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james thorpe

 2008/4/27 17:29Profile
Compton
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Joined: 2005/2/24
Posts: 2732


 Re:

Several interesting insights in your post Ian,

Quote:
...we've lost so much in the process.



I've personally come to see American evangelicalism in three phases since the Methodist societies first came ashore in the mid 1700's.*

1) First hundred years- Communities and societies of God. (Exemplified by John Wesley)

2) Second hundred and fifty years- Salvation machines. (Exemplified by Charles Finney)

3) Currently--A free market for domesticated private religon (Exemplified by Bill Hybels)

It can be fairly said that regardless of the particular driving forces, that the idealogy of the market has triumped in the American church, even among the most committed bible believing Christians. (edit: vs. the idealogy of family or community) As an example I was talking to a brother last week who declared in a matter of fact manner, "I'm only here untill the Spirit calls me elsewhere. I follow the Spirit."

Whether 'lured away' by the world, or 'called to' another church, the bottom line is that American Christians are generally divested from one another socially. I do not think this is simply a defect in American character, but an effect resulting from the emergence of the more personal economic vision of the American information economy. In the 18 and 19th century the American dream was land ownership, and the 20th century the dream was lifetime employment and pension; both of these personal dreams were also coorporate as they required a more stable investment and interest in community.

In our current information age, the American vision of financial security is almost completely personal and portable. In the past my security was in the well-being of my village, and church community because my well-being was inseperable to the well being of my land and my house. Nowadays, being mobile and detached is a vital and distinct economic advantage.

I believe this is an overlooked (edit: non-spiritual)factor in both the decline of traditional denominations (which were originally built upon long term family relationships that afforded stable commitment to a community or organization's beliefs), and at the same time the growth of more charismatic and seeker sensitive denominations (edit: which are better able to offer satisfying "religous feelings" while requiring almost no lasting commitment to the organization or community beliefs). To quote Thomas Dolby "I live in a suitcase."

I'm not commenting here how one segment is better then the other, only offering some observations on differences that I've noticed between the two. In fact, the social-economic reasons outlined here are nothing that can be held against any denomination of the American Church for it's decline, anymore then we can blame an declining species of wildlife for the encroaching suburbs that reduced it's once healthy environment. In other words, this is not yet another reason to be mad at the church...but to perhaps have mercy for the sincere Christian who feels alone and isolated.

MC

(*edit; see "The Way of the Cross Leads Home" by A. Gregory Schnieder)


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Mike Compton

 2008/4/27 19:18Profile
roadsign
Member



Joined: 2005/5/2
Posts: 3777


 Re: connected but disconnected

MC said:

Quote:
my well-being was inseperable to the well being of my land and my house.

Nowadays, being mobile and detached is a vital and distinct economic advantage.



Of course this modern sense of freedom and independence is all an illusion! It is in fact, the exact opposite! We are highly dependent individuals - on those whom we do not even know exist, on many who have no personal interest in our wellbeing. Of course, it is easier to exploit those one does not know than those one has come to value through relationship. Thus we are vulnerable to exploitation.

We are getting further and further away from our food source. Many of our commodities come from overseas. That makes us extremely vulnerable to crises and the domination of other powers! What makes us even more vulnerable is the fact that we lack strong relational bonds to help get us through crisis (which are sure to come).


Quote:
I'm only here until the Spirit calls me elsewhere.


This “escape valve” can be seen in many societal institutions: family, marriage, the workplace (where many are just hanging in until retirement “calls” them out)… the school, or the city, the country… We can walk out of social relationships with hardly a tear.

If I could summarize the missing ingredient in our society in one word, I would say: RELATIONSHIP. Yet, we as Christians follow a relational God who has called us into RELATIONSHIP with himself and with one another. There are numerous verses in scripture that address relational categories. We are called to touch the world through RELATIONSHIP. Apart from relationship, we have no means of being convincing. Oh… we may be clever in many subjects related to the Christian faith, and we may offer attractive presentations of the gospel; but (I feel) relationship is not a strong point for us. And thus our testimony for Christ is weakened if not severely damaged.

May I be so bold as to suggest that: apart from relationship we do not have the right to refer to ourselves as practicing Christians?

“Whoever loves his brother lives in light.” 1 Jn. 2:10

As you see, this topic is stirring me deeply! I feel it deserves a thread of its own and so may post one called, “Connected… but not really” … or something like that.

Quote:
… this is not yet another reason to be mad at the church...but to perhaps have mercy for the sincere Christian who feels alone and isolated.


It is also a reason to deepen our love for fellow human and be a light of Christ through the way we respond to our “neighbour” in their life situation.


Quote:
Salvation machines.


MC, this could make a good threat topic too! Interestingly the religious left have a lot to say on this point – against the religious conservatists. Yet while striving towards restored relationship: unity, equality, justice, etc, they too overlook the key ingredient: ongoing relationship with God through Christ – the basis of unity with fellow human. (Eph. 2)

Diane



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Diane

 2008/4/30 7:39Profile
Lawevangelis
Member



Joined: 2004/10/9
Posts: 97
Justin, TX

 Re:

As long as the Southern Baptists continue allowing inactive members on their membership roles, I don't know that their statistics mean a thing. Many of these inactive members don't show up to church unless there's a controversial vote (to out a pastor who is preaching the truth, etc.). If they would thin out their membership roles to represent those who actually attend church regularly, the situation would look even worse. Under these circumstances, the statistics will never tell the real story with the SBC.

Jon


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Jon Speed

 2008/4/30 10:10Profile









 Re:

Quote:

Lawevangelis wrote:
As long as the Southern Baptists continue allowing inactive members on their membership roles, I don't know that their statistics mean a thing. Many of these inactive members don't show up to church unless there's a controversial vote (to out a pastor who is preaching the truth, etc.). If they would thin out their membership roles to represent those who actually attend church regularly, the situation would look even worse. Under these circumstances, the statistics will never tell the real story with the SBC.

Jon




That's right, I would venture to say that only about 25% of the SBC membership roll nationwide in America attend services anywhere or anytime. There are some valid reasons for some people's nonattendance, sickness or a family member sickness. The SBC local church leaderships should under the office responsibility and authority of Christ should know which of these members are purposely staying out of fellowship, then go to those members who do not have a valid reason and attempt to restore them back to service? If they are not willing to be restored, then remove them from the roll. Whether God leaves them on his roll or not is not the question.
I was a member of a local church a few years ago that had almost 400 on the roll, 120 average on Sunday, 50 Sunday night, 25 on Wednesday night. The leadership done nothing. Their stats, as most stats, are only as accurate as the people putting the data and correctly and accurately putting it into the correct column.

 2008/4/30 13:16





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