Last week the nation's largest Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, gathered for its annual meeting in Phoenix. The media pounced when stats were released indicating SBC membership had shrunk for the fourth consecutive year. In addition (or should I say subtraction), the number of baptisms declined by over 17,000 in 2010 compared to 2009. This is the eighth drop in 10 years.
Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay, was honest about the statistics. "This is not a blip. This is a trend. And the trend is one of decline," he said.
The news about the SBC's decline swirling around both the secular and Christian media only adds to the dismay in recent years. It seems like every time I logon there is a new report about the decline, decay, or demise of the church. The American church, and the evangelical branch in particular, seems infatuated with news of its own death almost as much as myths of its persecution. Perhaps we like these reports because ...1