Today I am meeting with SBC State Evangelism leaders from across the Southern states. These leaders do a great job keeping the fires burning for sharing the Gospel.
Yet we all admit we are in trouble. We see a decline in baptisms. There are 900 SBC churches a year closing their doors. And we have a high percentage of our churches stagnant or in decline. I had a few takeaways from the Monday meeting and look forward to learning more today.
1. Any church can and will die if it does not reach the next generation.
2. A growing number of churches no longer have Vacation Bible School. I was amazed. The reason most often given is the church does not have enough workers.
3. Church revitalization is a critical need. There are several ways to go at this. But the key is dying churches must admit they are in critical condition before any plan can be attempted. This is a tough step.
4. Church planting is a must in our cities.
5. Cooperation among churches needs to grow. Healthy churches helping struggling churches is a big challenge. It is not an easy task but is often fruitful.
6. The pastor is key. If a church is going to reach people, it begins with the pastor. If his heart is not on fire, the church will seldom blaze.
Yesterday I spent the day in West Virginia. I was there to speak to the WVCSB Pastors’ Conference. I met some wonderful leaders. Reports were given of great work being done. One of the exciting things I heard was the report from Frontier Church. It is a new work in Morgantown. A fired up young church planter told of the work. These are good days for church planters in our SBC family.
And Southern Baptists are doing more than planting. We are working to revitalize churches that are declining. Change is demanded and no one can make this happen. However, there are some good people in many of these churches who want to see life blossom again.
Southern Baptists are at work in the storm path of Sandy. We will feed 400,000 meals a day. And we will tell the story of Jesus. That is GOOD NEWS and GOOD WORKS!
I have been reminded again that I am glad to be a Southern Baptist. We are not perfect but we are making a difference.