Summary: I have heard it said that Baptists favorite book in the Bible is the Book of Numbers. We are always looking for nickels, numbers and noses. Or is it bodies, buildings and budgets…or people, properties and payola? Too often, we seek more! But Jesus lost
The Incredible Shrinking Church
I have heard it said that Baptists favorite book in the Bible is the Book of Numbers. We are always looking for nickels, numbers and noses. Or is it bodies, buildings and budgets…or people, properties and payola. Regardless, I think you get what I am saying. Case in point is the following selected quote in article about the decline in the Southern Baptist Convention.
Southern Baptists decline in baptisms, membership, attendance
by Russ Rankin on Thursday, June 09, 2011
NASHVILLE, Tenn., — The number of baptisms in the Southern Baptist Convention in 2010 fell by nearly 5 percent, according to the Annual Church Profile (ACP) compiled by LifeWay Christian Resources in cooperation with Baptist state conventions.
Southern Baptist churches reported 332,321 baptisms in 2010, down from 349,737 in 2009, which represents a 4.98 percent decline. Total membership in 2010, reported at 16,136,044, represents a 0.15 percent decline from 2009 and is the fourth straight year of decline.
"I pray that all of us will see the urgency of the moment," said Thom S. Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay. "We must make the Great Commission the heart of all we do and say. These latest numbers should be received with a broken spirit and a God-given determination to reach people for Christ."
The report did, however, indicate one positive change. The number of churches in the Southern Baptist Convention rose to 45,727, an increase of 1.59 percent from the 45,010 reported in 2009.
"I do find encouragement in the increase in the number of churches," Rainer said. "Hopefully a church planting trend in our convention will lead to the gospel of Christ being shared with more people than ever before."
Primary worship attendance in SBC churches mirrored the decline in overall membership, declining 0.19 percent to 6,195,449 in 2010.
"As Southern Baptists, so much of our identity comes from missions involvement and a passion for the Great Commission," Rainer said. "We certainly pay attention to categories such as missions expenditures because this not only supports our missionaries but also the training of our future pastors and church leaders through our convention-affiliated colleges and seminaries. (Source: LifeWay.com)
Sadly, Southern Baptists are not the only denomination declining in the United States. Studies have shown that all denominations are on a decline in growth. Most of that may be a lack of commitment to Christ as Lord and Savior. If so, then some attrition is probable because of one’s lack of a true commitment to Christ.
Let’s examine today’s passage in John 6.
“Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard (unpleasant, harsh, offensive, intolerable,) saying; who can understand (who has the ability to comprehend) it?” When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained (to murmur, mutter, grumble, say anything against in a low tone) i.e.: of the cooing of doves; of those who confer secretly together; of those who discontentedly complain about this, He said to them, “Does this offend (scandalize, stumbling block, to give up believing) you? What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits (advantageous) nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.””
The Difficulties in Hearing God’s Word 60-65
Most people want either a convenient religion (a DIY approach) or an easy religion (easy as in provide it for me but don’t ask anything of me, i.e. NO commitment). The same is true during the days of Jesus. The people didn’t want to follow Him because it would require something of them. Specifically, to eat His flesh and drink His blood, although Jesus was speaking of this metaphorically.
Difficulties in hearing God’s Word reveals…
They couldn’t believe He would ask them to do this. They wanted something to eat…like the fish and chips “bread” He had so recently provided for them. Moses did it (provided bread and leadership on a daily basis), so why couldn’t He?
Kirk Cameron was in the eye of the storm recently with his biblical comments regarding marriage. Because he advocates a biblical world-view of marriage (God instituted a one man-one woman union in the garden), the mass media and homosexuals attacked him mercilessly. Standing for Jesus today will cost you.
“Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed.” Matthew 25.24