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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Is the Convention System Outdated?

The SBC claims to be the world’s largest protestant denomination with some 16 million members and 45,000 churches. Yet it was reported that only 9,000 messengers representing 2,000 SBC churches were present at last year’s 2006 Southern Baptist Convention.

Here are some statistics worth considering:


(2,000 / 45,000 = 4.44%) That means that less than 4½ percent of all Southern Baptist Churches were represented at last year’s convention… Ouch!

When you reverse that statement it becomes even clearer: Over 95.5 % of all Southern Baptist churches were not represented at last year’s convention… Again OUCH!

Regardless of how you run the numbers… it is a sad indictment on our claims of being a Democratic Convention, and for anything coming out of any convention as being a representation of the will of all Southern Baptist or what all Southern Baptist believe.

Do you believe the Convention System is representing you?

7 comments:

Lee said...

I remember reading somewhere that the cumulative total of churches which have sent messengers to the convention since 1990 is less than 4,000, which means that fewer than 10% of the churches in the SBC have been conducting its business for at least 17 years.

With that low level of participation, it's no wonder that churches and church leaders are surprised when they find out what actions the convention has taken that are interpreted to be on their behalf. And it's no wonder that SBC leaders are surprised to find that there are whole consituencies within the denomination that don't necessarily approve of what they have done.

And if you look at weekly worship attendance, less than 6 million (which means that 10 million members of SBC churches don't go to church) are there each week, and at a median age (if you can trust Lifeway statistics)of 60, the SBC is only about a decade away from becoming half the size it is now.

G. Alford said...

Lee,

I had not read that only 4,000 churches have been represented at the convention over the last 17 years... Wow!

That number truly shows just how out of touch the convention is with its churches...

Sadly, it would appear that those currently in power do not mind this as long as: (1) They remain in power, (2) The churches keep sending their money.

Jonathan Zila said...

I linked to your blog from the founder blog, and am really saddened by the apparent problems in the SBC. I am afraid it has been "to big for its britches" for a long time, and it is finally catching up with them.

Best,
JZ

G. Alford said...

Jonathan,

Thanks for stoping by... Yes we do have our fair share of problems within the SBC...

However for all her problems the SBC is home and in my opinion worth contending for...

Grace to all,

David B. Hewitt said...

G. Alford:

Your decimal was off by 100; in other words, it is 4.4% rather than .04%. In any case, it still isn't good, and your point is made. :)

SDG,
dbh

hisbygrace said...

This is going to sound like either a loaded question or a sarcastic one. It's really neither, but an honest question I've been struggling with for some time. What exactly is worth contending for in the SBC? I believe the truths of the gospel are absolutely worth contending for, but I can't really see what the SBC does that's so important. I basically see a bureaucracy with a publishing arm and a few websites. With some of the stuff I see in the Lifeway stores, that itself has become questionable. I'm not that knowledgeable about all the SBC does, but neither can I see anything they really do besides the CP. But even there, they spend the money given to that program as they see fit, and to be honest I don't know how it's spent or what the missionaries they send out believe. I'm sure it takes quite a sum of money just to keep the bureaucracy afloat. I know the SBC leadership could not care less what I think, but I can tell you that many of us in the pews are growing weary of what does go on in the SBC and are leaving or seriously considering leaving it. I've been in a Southern Baptist church since God saved me, but I'm finding less and less worth saving in the SBC, seeing that a great many of its churches have, or are embracing some really bad theology and practices. Like I said, I know the voices of the folks in the pews don't count for much, but at the end of the day, aren't we what makes up the churches? Just thinkin out loud.

G. Alford said...

David,

I have serious egg on my face… thanks for the correction on the percent… I have updated my post to reflect the correct percent you gave… Thanks!

Hisbygrace,

I feel your frustration…the bureaucracy of the SBC is in need of some serious trimming.

However, we need not to loose sight that the SBC does do many things right. Six major Seminaries where our student receive excellent educations in preparation to serve God… Many more good colleges and schools… The largest missionary force in the world… A vast church planting network… etc. These major accomplishments cannot be taken lightly nor can they be easily recreated.

And yes at the end of the day, the churches are the SBC… So let me encourage you to focus a little closer to home… that is on the important difference you can make in your local church. And remember that as Southern Baptist what part of the SBC you choose to be a part of and support is entirely up to you. You can pick and choose what parts you wish to be involved with and which parts you choose not to be involved with…

This is exactly what my Southern Baptist Church has decided to do. See this post: Saying Goodbye to an Old Friend

However we are still very much a Southern Baptist Church… that’s the beauty of being a convention of 42,000 autonomous churches. We (the churches) have the power to trim the bureaucracy, it’s just a matter of having the will to do so at the local church level.

Grace to all,