June 01, 2007

Do You Know Where The Missing SBC Members Are?

Denny Burk has a great blog posting on the interview he did with Tom Ascol from The Founders Blog.

You really need to read the article if your're a member of a Southern Baptist Church and check out all the links at the bottom of the posting as well. Here's an excerpt:

Ascol notes that the claim that there are 16 million Southern Baptists is off by about 10 million (maybe more). Only about 6 million of the 16 million show up to church in a given week. In a recent interview in the Washington Post, Ascol says, “The reality is, the FBI couldn’t find half of those if they had to” (Washington Post). I hear that same statistic quoted very often by people in the news media (for example, here),
but everyone in the know understands that the number is a sham.

I agree with Dr. Ascol and a growing chorus of others who maintain that these numbers indicate that Southern Baptists are in the midst of an identity crisis. We call ourselves Baptist, but we do not retain the most distinctive feature of Baptist identity: a regenerate church membership. If Baptists have been anything, they have been people who understand the Bible to teach that the local church should be composed of believers only. Unlike Israel of the Old Testament, Baptists have understood that the New Testament church is not a mixed multitude of believers and unbelievers. Only those who have been born again by the Spirit of God are eligible for baptism and membership in a Baptist church. But we have not been living up to that biblical standard.

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