Why are not Southern Baptist churches, as a general rule, growing?
Why are not Southern Baptist churches, as a general
rule, growing? Studies show that a majority of Southern Baptist
churches either are on a membership plateau or are declining.
Considering the incredible amount of material in
print, on tape or on the Internet to give solid information and
guidance in this area, one has to wonder why all churches are not
Whereas 30 years ago, a book on growing churches was a rarity, today, such books almost flood the market.
And these are not off-the-cuff books. Most of them
are written from serious, and sometimes vast, research. One example of
an author who has produced some seven excellent, well-researched books
on various aspects of growing churches and reaching people is Thom
Rainer. The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary professor is not
alone. Others also have produced excellent books, generally from
personal experience, on principles for growing churches.
In addition, megachurch pastors such as Rick Warren
and Bill Hybels not only produce practical church growth materials, but
they have well-maintained, current Web sites providing all kinds of
weekly help for churches that want to grow.
On top of these helps, the Southern Baptist
Convention’s North American Mission Board and Lifeway Christian
Resources continuously crank out materials on how to reach people for
Christ and grow churches.
In addition to those materials, a vast array of
seminars, workshops and training schools are available to most anyone
who wants to gain additional knowledge on church growth.
So, “available know-how” is certainly not the reason Southern Baptist churches are not growing.
Knowing why many Baptist churches are not growing
does not take a rocket scientist. No question, we have the message. No
question, we can have the know-how. No question, almost all churches
have adequate resources.
This leaves as reasons why many churches are not growing:
• A lack of desire. Being a church on a plateau is
comfortable. It is not declining, but it does not have the challenges
caused by growing. A plateaued church does not have to worry about
space. And the congregation does not have to worry
about new people coming in and disrupting their comfort level.
• Laziness. Reaching people usually requires hard
work and costs money. Some churches just do not care enough about
growing to spend the energy and the money to do so.
• Selfishness. Churches sometimes ease into being
content and wanting to spend their time and energy on themselves. They
had rather spend their resources on a smooth, well-fed organization
than put additional strains upon it.
• Fear of failure. If a church does not set growth
as one of its goals, it does not have to worry about failing to reach
the goal. Expectations cause demands, and sometimes, churches do not
want that burden.
• A lack of spiritual empowerment. Certainly, this
is the major reason many churches do not grow. Reaching people requires
having the Holy Spirit empower the efforts it inspires. The task of
reaching people and growing churches is simply too great for only human
efforts. Tragically, some churches’ spiritual empowerment is defused by
division, by unsaved and carnal members and by misplaced values. They
lose sight of their God-given purpose and vision.
A church can know how it can reach people. Still, most churches are not reaching people.
It is sad – but true.