January 2nd, 2020 / By: Kie Bowman / comments
We’ve all seen the headlines:
“U.S. Church Membership Down Sharply in Past Two Decades” (Gallup, April 2019); “America’s Epidemic of Empty Churches” (The Atlantic, Nov. 2018); “Why People Are Leaving America’s Churches—And How They Will Survive” (Fox News, Dec. 2019). Most of us would hope if our churches are in the news, the headlines would be better than these. Yet, we know major changes are reshaping the landscape of faith in America. It’s clear something is wrong.
Southern Baptists have not been immune to these changes or challenges—having lost more than one million members in a decade (Facts & Trends, June 2018) and having plummeted to a 74-year low in baptisms.
It’s a bleak picture; but on a positive note, the SBTC bucked the trend and actually saw a jump in baptisms last year (Baptist Press, May 23, 2019). In addition, there are several other hopeful signs regarding evangelism. For instance, our SBC President J. D. Greear’s emphasis and leadership on “Who’s Your One?” has successfully restarted a positive, nation-wide evangelistic emphasis. The North American Mission Board brought Johnny Hunt to the board as a vice president to lead the denomination’s focus on evangelism. That was a smart, strong, strategic move and has been well-received. Adding our own Shane Pruitt to Dr. Hunt’s NAMB evangelism team, in order to reach the next generation, is further evidence of positive, powerful action aimed at intentionally prioritizing evangelism. In addition, the election of Dr. Ronnie Floyd—one of America’s most evangelistic pastors—to the role of president of the SBC Executive Committee, and his immediate emphasis on the Great Commission, further demonstrates that Southern Baptists are serious about reaching people.
As a local pastor, I appreciate leaders who motivate me and a convention that provides resources to assist me as I attempt to reach my community and the world for Christ. One of those motivational resources is the annual SBTC Empower Conference, held this year at the Irving Convention Center on Feb. 24-25. I urge you to attend for encouragement, insight and fellowship. The best way to attend is with your team or with a group of friends.
I love the story of the 19th century evangelist D. L. Moody who went out to the streets one night to share Christ. He asked a stranger if he was saved, and the man snapped back, “Mind your own business!” Moody calmly replied, “This is my business.” In the 21st century, it’s time for all of us to make evangelism our business again.
The truth is, we can reverse the negative trends. It’s not too late. It starts with all of us; it starts now, and it requires action. We can change the narrative. We can tell the story. We can rewrite the headlines!