Southern Baptists – Still Majoring in the Minors and ignoring the never married (singles) – Why Church Membership Is Down
also: Seeker Friendly Preachers Driving Members Away, Worship of Youth by Churches, other issues
It looks to me like a Christian’s top priorities, tied in at #1 place, are evangelizing the lost and caring for other Christians (Galatians 6:10).
Christian singles past the age of 30 have swelled in ranks the last couple of decades, but SBs (Southern Baptists) and other Christian churches and denominations continue to either ignore singles, or treat them like dirt when they do pay them attention.
Up to half of the American population over 18 years of age is single now, and there are many Christians in that figure.
Then your Southern Baptists lament, cry, and render their garments, or complain about a decline in SB membership and a rise in those who consider themselves “nones” (of no religious affiliation).
I’ve written about this before, but if you are a church who wants your attendance or membership numbers to go up, try ministering to 50% of the population that has been ignored: singles who are over 25 – 30 years old.
I was looking over a Southern Baptist publication recently, and in covering the recent SBC (Southern Baptist Convention) in Houston, where a bunch of resolutions were passed, I noticed that even this article chose to focus on homosexuals in the Boy Scouts (BSA), gender neutral Bibles, youth leadership programs, and seating at the front of the convention.
(Link): Southern Baptists approve resolution criticizing new Boy Scout policy allowing gay members
(Link): SBC critiques Scout policy but no call for mass exodus
This Southern Baptist article, from “The Baptist Messenger,” mentioned nothing about never-married adults, the divorced, or reaching and serving the widows and widowers.
The article also mentioned nothing about the child sex abuse resolution, which it should have. Southern Baptists have a terrible, inexcusable history of sweeping child sex abuse by Baptist preachers under the rug.
(Link): Southern Baptists urge [child sex] abuse reporting
Here is the coverage of the 2013 SBC from a Baptist publication – notice the fixation on cultural war crap including homosexuality and gender roles (vis a vis a Bible version using gender neutral terms)
>> (Link): Messengers ‘Round Up’ in Houston for SBC Annual Meeting, The Baptist Messenger
The article below references CBMW (Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood) as being “scholarly.” Oh please! CBMW is a sexist organization whose members keep trying to prop up ways to rationalize the repression of women in the SBC. A far better resource on the topic of gender and church/Christianity is (Link): CBE – Christians For Biblical Equality.
Excerpts (from “Messengers ‘Round Up’ in Houston for SBC Annual Meeting” by The Baptist Messenger); there are additional comments by me below this long excerpt:
More than 5,000 Messengers from throughout the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) gathered for the Annual Meeting, which met in Houston June 11-12. On more than one occasion, leaders and speakers pointed to Oklahoma as a shining example of how to give and serve.
Several resolutions were referred to the Executive Committee (EC) for study to be reported back to the SBC in 2014. They were:
That the Executive Committee publish a theological position paper on Southern Baptists’ use of gender-neutral Bibles, reconsidering the three SBC resolutions opposing the use of such translations, and consult the “scholarly work found in the CBMW (Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood) article, ‘An Evaluation of Gender Language in the 2011 Edition of the NIV Bible,’” offered by Tim Overton, Muncie, Ind., Halteman Village.
That a special task force be appointed to explore youth programs to teach leadership skills and moral standards once offered by the Boy Scouts of America “seeing they have lost their way and lost their moral compass, the Bible,” submitted by Harold M. Phillips, messenger from Port Deposit, Md., Pleasant View.
That the SBC reevaluate Article III of the Constitution, particularly subpoints 1 and 2 to update minimal standards used to define participating churches and messengers, offered by John Mark Yeats, pastor of Fort Worth, Texas, Normandale. Yeats noted that the base gift of $250 required to send each additional messenger to the SBC has not changed since 1888, “a sacrificial amount then, but a token amount today.”
A motion by Paul Cunningham, a messenger from Oklahoma City, Northwest, asked that reserved seating at the front of the auditorium be open to all messengers and not reserved for groups other than the handicapped. The Committee on Order of Business reported that the motion “was well received” and will be implemented.
—– END ARTICLE EXCERPT —–
No mention in that coverage of child sex abuse in SBC churches, and nothing about helping never- married, over- the- age- of- 30 adults, or other types of singles.
Not only should the SBC focus on mature (as in post age 30) singles to get them in to the church (the SBC has made marriage, the nuclear family, children, and parenting into idols that are worshipped, and those who don’t fit any of those roles are shunned and excluded), but they need to stop obsessing over the culture wars.
Even I, who was staunchly a right wing social conservative since my teen years, am fed up with the never-ending complaining and pulpit-pounding about homosexuals, homosexuality, abortion, the Democrats, liberals, and the Obama administration.
The SBC seems to expect that, say, a shaven-headed butch lesbian who is a stalwart, far- left- wing liberal and pro-choicer, and a big fan of “womym’s lit,” is going to get on board with Christian values and begin opposing abortion or homosexual marriage. This is so unrealistic of the SBC that it borders on delusional.
You cannot argue the un-saved world into accepting Christian values, because… they are not Christian. The Scripture says something about non-believers being spiritually dead, and not fully capable of understanding or appreciating godly values.
Ergo, it’s a waste of time, energy, and resources to try to police the un-saved culture on matters or morality. (The cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, who are we to judge those outside the church should we not judge those who are in the church, etc, and so forth.)
I don’t recall the Apostle Paul spending all his time (or any of his time, actually) trying to topple all immorality around him in the secular cultures in which he lived; he simply told Christians living in those areas to resist from joining in the bawdy behavior around them being committed by the un-saved.
The Christians in the New Testament were instructed to stand out of the immoral culture by not adopting its practices. They were not told to fight whole-scale against the immortality of secular society by pounding lecterns and issuing condemning press releases and resolutions against homosexuality, adultery, or what have you.
This continual fixation on non-Gospel and non-helping-people topics by Southern Baptists is another factor pushing me away from any further SB church attendance.
If I start going to church again (even though I’m a bit of an agnostic now), I think I may try other denominations, even ones that may be more left- wing politically or theologically than I’d prefer, if they place caring for people first, and if they don’t opine about their left wing politics and social causes all the time.
I am also fed up with a church body in America that is captivated by youth. Not just the Southern Baptists, but a lot of Christian groups and churches are too narrowly focused on people under the age of 30 or 25.
Churches and Christian media keep publishing article after article crying, whining, or expressing bewilderment about how the 21 year olds of today aren’t married yet, or how they’re viewing porn, or, isn’t it a shame that 20- somethings support Darwinism and reject Creationism, and oh, gosh golly, ain’t it awful that 20 year olds drop out of church?
Meanwhile, you have people who have been Christians for years (decades, even), who, when they get to their 30s or 40s or older (and haven’t married yet), and they start realizing church bodies are not fair to all, that churches and denominations don’t support every one, but that churches typically only support married couples with kids, and the youth, they have no incentive to return to a church.
Most models of church services and church programs are about how to reach married- with- kids couples, and how to attract and tickle the ears of teens and 20 somethings, and in the case of “seeker friendly” churches, how to attract Non-Christian people ages 20 – 39.
The end result of all this is that anyone over the age of 40, especially the un-married genuine Christians, are shoved aside and forgotten, and church services consist of too-loud, obnoxious, lead- guitar- ripping, and playing of inane “Jesus rock and roll ditties,” with a dweeby preacher who wears skinny jeans, Hawaiian shirts, and flip flops on the platform, all to look “cool.”
As you grow older (I should say, as most people grow older- preacher Mark Driscoll, who is in his mid- or- late- 40s, appears to have arrested development), you stop caring about whether a church service is hip, cool, and totally entertaining.
As you grow older and you experience tragedy, say the death of a family member, you want compassion, help, encouragement, care, companionship, and maybe some theological answers to the pain of life in the sermons and in church groups. You could not care less if the preacher is “hip and trendy” and wearing a goatee and flip flops, and you do not care if there is a lead electric guitarist in the church “praise band.”
Not that I’m a fan of totally mind-numbing sermons myself, I hate boring sermons, but as you get older, you’re more interested in understanding life, how to make it through life, and where you fit in to the scheme of things, and why God isn’t answering your prayers, than you are in being entertained on a Sunday morning. I think that is what a lot of early 20 somethings (pre- age- 25) need too, but some of them are too dumb and inexperienced at life to realize it yet.
And why in the name of Frank would you want to dumb down your services to reach only, or primarily, some idiotic college frat guy who is 20 years old? Or some 35 year old agnostic hipster?
Some churches do this. Seriously. Listen to a podcast by Christian Pirate Radio (aka “Fighting For the Faith,” from about a week ago, see link in this blog’s side bar) where a preacher says in the broadcast of his sermon that church is for the lost – although the Bible says church is for the saved, not the lost.
Further, this same preacher says he wants church services to be like “Disneyland” (yes, that was his exact word) so that the un-saved people who show up to his church won’t find his church “boring” and will be apt to return.
News flash for seeker friendly preacher dweebs: Reaching the lost is one goal or task of the church, but church itself is for the saved, even Jesus said so.
That same preacher said if you are a mature believer in the faith, you should just skip his Sunday services altogether (!!!) since they will be dumbed down to appeal to ignorant agnostics and atheists who show up; he said if you are a knowledgeable Christian, you should join one of the church’s Wednesday night small Bible groups.
Amazing. The guy actually admits to not giving a damn about genuine Christians who need help and guidance from the body of Christ. He is willing to toss actual Christians under the bus to reach a 20 year old un-saved twit. Jesus Christ said, “Feed my sheep.” He did not say, “Ignore the sheep to reach the goats.”
(By the way, there are Christians in their 20s who are spiritually mature, maybe more so than some self professing believers who are in their 40s. When I use the word “mature” I am not always referring to age. I was a serious and very devout Christian in my 20s, and I know there are others in their 20s who are like that. I do think many 20- somethings do not take the faith seriously, and are immature about it, though.)
So, seeker- friendly preacher guy, you’re going to ignore 99% of the American population to reach these small, idiotic demographics? That, combined with one or two other reasons I mentioned above (such as churches ignoring singles) is why SBC, fundamentalist, and evangelical churches continue to lose members.