Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research and friend of BCL, wrote a response last week to the 2008 statistics for the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). Membership in the denomination dropped 0.2 percent from 2007, and baptisms were down 1.1 percent.
According to Stetzer, these declines are consistent with the trend over the past 50 years in the SBC, where growth has gradually come to a standstill. "Unless things change," he says, "we are about to enter a time when we grow accustomed to decline and think back to the good ol' days of growth."
How then should Southern Baptists respond? Not, hopes Stetzer, with new "straw men" and new "battle lines." Instead he calls for a "Great Commission Resurgence":
We have been lulled into evangelistic complacency and missional inaction. We [who] fought a battle of the Bible are now struggling [to] live it out through cooperation, collaborative missions, and personal evangelism.
But are these trends unique to Southern Baptists? We've heard of late some ...1