Monday, May 14, 2012

Dr. Kelly’s Observations on Evangelism in the SBC

Kelley Dr. Chuck Kelley, the president and professor of evangelism at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote an article called “The New Methodists,” highlighting the decades of stagnancy and decline in the Southern Baptist Convention. I met Dr Kelley a few times and he has always impressed me as a man in love with God. I always want to read what he has to share.

Below is a brief summary and some some quotables from the article. You can read the whole article here:

My Summary

In 1945 Southern Baptists baptized approximately 257,000 people into their churches. In 1955, only ten years later, they baptized approximately 417,000 people, almost doubling in just ten years.  How did we do it?
  • from their earliest beginnings they emphasized church planting.
  • [they] continually affirmed for the congregation the importance of sharing Christ with the lost.
  • [they] used decisional preaching… preaching which calls for an immediate and public response.
  • personal evangelism throughout the community.
  • Sunday School became the cultivation strategy for SBC churches.
  • [they] used revival meetings as their primary harvest tool.
It was not the individual methods used that produced such an incredible harvest. Rather, the interaction of those methods with each other created an integrated process described in the New Testament as sowing and reaping.

[Southern Baptists have] reduced planting, neglected cultivation, and not surprisingly have found the harvest coming up short.

Money [for evangelism] is not the crucial issue reducing our fruitfulness. Having more money will not turn things around.

The gospel’s power is not the crucial issue. Our message has the same power to transform any human life today that it had in the first century of the church.

Discipleship is the crucial issue. 

We are not anointed – that “we” would be you, me and all of us at work in places with little evidence of the activity of the Holy Spirit. We are so not anointed we have come to accept not being anointed as normal.
[We] have become so focused on discovering a method that works; [we] fail to realize an integrated process is far more important than any one method that is a part of that process.

More importantly, Southern Baptists are becoming the new Methodists.
  • Universalism is settling into our pews as more and more Southern Baptists believe and behave as though they believe a personal relationship with Christ is not necessary for one to be right with God.
  • Tolerance is beginning to overtake conviction as growing numbers, particularly of younger Southern Baptists, are less comfortable with taking a firm stance on moral or doctrinal issues.
  • More importantly, our behavior, the way we live our lives, is blending more and more with our culture. We are growing ever less distinct and recognizable in the crowd of our nation’s population.
When our baptismal numbers started to weaken, we intensified our focus on evangelistic strategies and methods. Hear this from one who is an evangelist by calling. We should have paid more attention to our discipleship process.

We are blending in more than we are standing out.

Our problem is not that more of us don’t witness to our neighbors. Our problem is that more of us do not look like and live like Jesus.

Here is what we know stated as simply as I know how to state it:
In times past God has worked through our Southern Baptist churches in a mighty way. In times present God is not working in a mighty way through our churches. How are you going to respond to this?

1 comment:

  1. I've been saying that about discipleship for, like, 20 years, but people don't want to hear it. Discipleship is hard, and people don't want hard.


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