Years ago when I was a pastor I got a late night call to the local hospital. One of my church members had been in a terrible accident. He had serious injuries and had lost a considerable amount of blood.
By the time I got to the hospital doctors and nurses were scurrying around his bed in the emergency room trying to get him in a stable condition. At one point one of the nurses came out to assure family members that they were doing everything possible to make sure that he was going to be all right.
The nurse was also a member of our church and she came over to me and said, “Pastor, you need to pray for us. Ned has lost a lot of blood and his blood pressure is down to 70/40.
In addition to all of his injuries he was suffering from hypotension. The blood pressure in his arteries was at the low end of what’s considered normal and he was about to go into shock. According to my calculations his blood pressure was about half of what would be considered normal.
Multiple health care specialists were trying to provide aid to this patient in crisis. It was an all-hands-on-deck kind of situation.
To me, that is where we are in Southern Baptist life. In 1972 Southern Baptists baptized 445,725; and in 2017 we baptized 254,122. So, our evangelism rate is about half of what it should be. In fact it is 57 percent of what it was 45 years ago.
Southern Baptists reported 26,651 fewer baptisms in 2017 than they did in 2016. That represented a 9.49% decrease in just one year.
Georgia experienced a similar kind of decline. In 2016 we baptized 23,709, but only 20,215 in 2017. I believe Georgia Baptists are beginning to show a keen interest in reversing that decline and one of the emphases that will assist that reversal is #reachingnextgen. We are declaring that “it is never too early to begin or too late to start reaching out to the next generation.” Go to #reachingnextgen.com for additional information.
Other church statistics are significant, but for years baptisms have been the gold standard in Baptist church metrics.
Something is not working; and it may be Southern Baptists.
Three years Ronnie Floyd, senior pastor of Cross Church in Springfield, AR, wrote, “What happened to evangelism in the Southern Baptist Convention? It was our commitment to evangelism in the past that set us apart from all other denominations. The events and experiences churches offered to their community were done with the specific intent of winning others to faith in Christ.
“What happened? Where did this go?”
Evangelism is not the responsibility of someone else. Charles H. Spurgeon, the noted London pastor, said, “To be a soul winner is the happiest thing in this world. Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter.”