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Monday, June 20, 2005

They're coming to dunk YOU! Southern Baptists want 1 million baptisms in 1 year

This is just so wrong. Totally, completely wrong. This misses the mark bigtime on what we're supposed to be doing as Christians. From the Associated Press via Yahoo!...
Baptists Aim to Baptize 1 Million Members

By LUCAS L. JOHNSON II, Associated Press Writer Mon Jun 20, 5:06 PM ET

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The annual meeting of Southern Baptist Convention will help kick off what may be the denomination's most ambitious outreach effort ever — baptizing 1 million new members in a year.

Headquartered in Nashville, the 16.3 million-member faith is the second-largest denomination in the United States, behind the Roman Catholic Church. Yet the number of new member baptisms has declined in each of the past five years.

"We have been playing it too close to the church," said President Bobby Welch, who will speak at the opening of the two-day convention Tuesday following a satellite address by President Bush. "Southern Baptists have to reconnect themselves with the communities and the needs of the people in the communities."

Welch said complacency among Southern Baptists is a big part of the reason for the slide, and it's an issue he plans to address in his speech to an expected crowd of about 9,000.

After he was elected president last year, the 62-year-old Welch began preparing for the baptism initiative with a bus tour of the United States and Canada to show "the convention is concerned about being involved in everybody's life."

Out of that tour came the baptismal theme for this year's convention, "Everyone Can."...

This right here is the biggest failure of modern Christianity. Okay, I'll even say of the modern world. Of human nature since the dawn of time even. But that doesn't mean the body of Christ has to emulate it. I'm talking about this whole fixation on "strength in numbers". See, the Southern Baptist Convention is making the mistake of equating prominence in this world with spiritual success. Maybe even with righteousness before God. In all brutal honesty it's pretty disquieting that they're even considering doing such a thing from this kind of motivation. Baptists - of whatever flavor - have traditionally been ardent believers in the individual's place before God, not how that individual contributes to a carnal collective. It's partly the reason why (believe it or not) Baptists have also usually been the ones most in favor of separating church and state. But now the Southern Baptist Convention is taking the position that individuals do not matter, only how much strength that individual gives to the churches as a corporate body... for the convention's sake, not the individual.

If this isn't the sin of pride on a grand scale, I don't know what is.


Come Fail Away said...

Agreed. The proper place for church growth to start is in depth, not width. Where are their priorities?

Anonymous said...

Chris, I agree with you that this latest step by the SBC is worldly, at best. However, I disagree with your notion that individualism in the Christian life should be the end goal. Afterall, Christ died for humanity as a whole and redeemed the Church as a whole and we, in our separate churches, share the Sacraments as a community. I think there's very much a community aspect to all of life that is not to be tossed away in favor of Western individualism.

Chris Knight said...

Of course there's a community aspect of being a Christian. We are even instructed to not forsake the fellowship with other believers. But instead of a sincere outreach, I can't help but perceive that this move by the SBC is one more about gaining worldly affluence, and maybe even a greater measure of favor from God, by puffing up its own numbers. The church grows one person at a time for Christ's sake, never its own.