I just got through reading a post on Ed Stetzer's blog regarding the "Official" decline of Southern Baptists. Let me say first that I by no means think we Southern Baptists are the only ones going to heaven. The old joke is that the Pastor of ______________ Denomination Church was telling a Baptist Pastor that he believed his own denomination was the only true church and hence the only ones who were really going to heaven. The Baptist Pastor replied, "I am more closed minded than that. I don't believe half of our are going!"
I am, however, deeply grateful to be a Baptist Christian. I love the freedom and autonomy every church has and the lack of a denominational hierarchy telling us what to do. Our unity and growth in the past has been built around our mutual zeal for missions and evangelism. The problem, to quote an old seminary Professor, is that "what we are doing isn't working".
We are now baptizing fewer people, the only means I know of to measure the harvest of new believers. Our churches (people) grow older and entire generations are missing. If you believe Reggie McNeal many of our churches will not have enough money or staff to run their existing ministries within the next 1-2 decades. We might as well admit that currently we are a denomination in decline.
I once thought that God would somehow use the SBC to reach the world and usher in a revival like none ever known. Now I find myself praying for that revival with the selfish tinge of self preservation, or denominational preservation.
Ultimately it is not just about saving a denomination. God can and will raise up others. It is about missed opportunities. Opportunities not for the glory of a group of churches but for the glory of seeing those who do not know Christ come to Him for life everlasting. I feel like we have let victory slip through our hands.
How about you?