Thought Provoking Editorial

Open discussion on general Baptist-related topics of interest to Baptists around the world.

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Re: Thought Provoking Editorial

Postby Sandy » Thu Dec 21, 2017 9:50 pm

I couldn't care less.
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Re: Thought Provoking Editorial

Postby Jim » Fri Dec 22, 2017 8:24 am

Sandy wrote:I couldn't care less.

Well, of course. Your problem is being mathematically-challenged. The rate of decrease in membership over the last ten years of the UMC vis-a-vis the SBC is 30,000 times the rate of decrease of the SBC, all of the gobbledy-gook of the difference in numbers being the usual hogwash tendered by someone caught in the act of subterfuge. Figure it out or get a fifth-grader to help you.
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Re: Thought Provoking Editorial

Postby Sandy » Fri Dec 22, 2017 9:03 am

:lol:

If you want to be accurate, the UMC is one body, divided into regions, and as a body, it has gained over 4% in membership and attendance over the past three or four years. Maybe Timothy can explain to you how they track membership. It is more honest, and accurate than the SBC ever thought about being.

But, the point is that "evangelical" denominations and churches are now declining, in most cases over the past decade at a rate that is comparable to the liberals, and the decline parallels the political shifts made by the "religious right", a group that overlaps "evangelicals" significantly. Arguing about the differences between the Baptists and Methodists isn't the point, the point is that right wing political activity parallels steepening, sharpening declines in Evangelical, and Southern Baptists if you include them as such, membership and attendance. I cited evidence showing that, but the best evidence in this discussion is the reaction to the article Dave posted from the self-proclaimed "conservatives" on this board. Your reactions say, in clear terms, that the author's thesis is a fact.

:thumb:
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Re: Thought Provoking Editorial

Postby Rvaughn » Fri Dec 22, 2017 10:23 am

Sandy wrote:If you want to be accurate, the UMC is one body, divided into regions, and as a body, it has gained over 4% in membership and attendance over the past three or four years.
Do you mean worldwide? According to this article at Um & Global, the overall numbers of the United Methodist Church in the United States has declined:
American UMC decline is a white people problem

Strikingly, the article points out that the number of Asian-American, Hispanics, African-Americans, and Native Americans have grown, but that the steep decline among whites accounts for the overall net loss.

["UM & Global is a project of the United Methodist Professors of Mission, a group of American United Methodist seminary professors that teach in the areas of mission and evangelism."]
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Re: Thought Provoking Editorial

Postby Sandy » Fri Dec 22, 2017 10:40 am

Rvaughn wrote:
Sandy wrote:If you want to be accurate, the UMC is one body, divided into regions, and as a body, it has gained over 4% in membership and attendance over the past three or four years.
Do you mean worldwide? According to this article at Um & Global, the overall numbers of the United Methodist Church in the United States has declined:
American UMC decline is a white people problem

Strikingly, the article points out that the number of Asian-American, Hispanics, African-Americans, and Native Americans have grown, but that the steep decline among whites accounts for the overall net loss.

["UM & Global is a project of the United Methodist Professors of Mission, a group of American United Methodist seminary professors that teach in the areas of mission and evangelism."]


In the US regions, yes, their membership and attendance is declining (though the point I made that the SBC has passed them up in annual decline percentage is accurate, because it has) but I think Timothy can point out that the UMC doesn't consider itself just an "American" church, but includes all of its regions in membership figures, and they are, as a whole, showing healthy growth.
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Re: Thought Provoking Editorial

Postby KeithE » Sat Dec 23, 2017 1:18 pm

I can’t read the leadoff article due to having used up my monthly allocation of Wash Post readings (like John Sneed and Haruo). So I really cannot comment this topic, except to tell Jim he is plain wrong about the SBC losing only 0.05% in membership in the last decade.

Southern Baptists have lost a million members in 10 years Baptist News June 9,2017. That is down from a peak of $16M in 2007 or down 6.2%. Not as bad as the UMC which rvaughn details as losing 21% in 20 years (from UMC official source as of March 2017) - good stuff rvaughn.
American UMC decline is a white people problem

In the latest Nurturing Faith Journal, there is a similar article based on a study by Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) released Sep 6, 2017. I will start a new topic on that.
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Re: Thought Provoking Editorial

Postby Jim » Sat Dec 23, 2017 2:01 pm

KeithE wrote:I can’t read the leadoff article due to having used up my monthly allocation of Wash Post readings (like John Sneed and Haruo). So I really cannot comment this topic, except to tell Jim he is plain wrong about the SBC losing only 0.05% in membership in the last decade.

Southern Baptists have lost a million members in 10 years Baptist News June 9,2017. That is down from a peak of $16M in 2007 or down 6.2%. Not as bad as the UMC which rvaughn details as losing 21% in 20 years (from UMC official source as of March 2017) - good stuff rvaughn.
American UMC decline is a white people problem

In the latest Nurturing Faith Journal, there is a similar article based on a study by Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) released Sep 6, 2017. I will start a new topic on that.

No. You are plain wrong. This is precisely what I wrote: The rate of decrease in membership over the last ten years of the UMC vis-a-vis the SBC is 30,000 times the rate of decrease of the SBC, and I stick by the .05%, the difference between 16,000,000 and 15,500,000. Figure it out if you think it matters, though the actual figure is 29,900. I just rounded it off.
Last edited by Jim on Sat Dec 23, 2017 2:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Thought Provoking Editorial

Postby KeithE » Sat Dec 23, 2017 2:16 pm

Jim wrote:
KeithE wrote:I can’t read the leadoff article due to having used up my monthly allocation of Wash Post readings (like John Sneed and Haruo). So I really cannot comment this topic, except to tell Jim he is plain wrong about the SBC losing only 0.05% in membership in the last decade.

Southern Baptists have lost a million members in 10 years Baptist News June 9,2017. That is down from a peak of $16M in 2007 or down 6.2%. Not as bad as the UMC which rvaughn details as losing 21% in 20 years (from UMC official source as of March 2017) - good stuff rvaughn.
American UMC decline is a white people problem

In the latest Nurturing Faith Journal, there is a similar article based on a study by Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) released Sep 6, 2017. I will start a new topic on that.

No. You are plain wrong. This is precisely what I wrote: The rate of decrease in membership over the last ten years of the UMC vis-a-vis the SBC is 30,000 times the rate of decrease of the SBC, not that the SBC lost .05%. Figure it out if you think it matters, though the actual figure is 29,900. I just rounded it off.


Here is your link
http://forums.baptistlife.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=12704#p171907
which said:
Not that it actually matters, the UMC lost 15% of its membership in the last ten years, while the SBC lost .05% of its membership. Look it up.

I did look it up.

You statement in red above (another quote from you) is just as bad numerically as your quote above.
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Re: Thought Provoking Editorial

Postby Jim » Sat Dec 23, 2017 7:47 pm

KeithE wrote:
Jim wrote:
KeithE wrote:I can’t read the leadoff article due to having used up my monthly allocation of Wash Post readings (like John Sneed and Haruo). So I really cannot comment this topic, except to tell Jim he is plain wrong about the SBC losing only 0.05% in membership in the last decade.

Southern Baptists have lost a million members in 10 years Baptist News June 9,2017. That is down from a peak of $16M in 2007 or down 6.2%. Not as bad as the UMC which rvaughn details as losing 21% in 20 years (from UMC official source as of March 2017) - good stuff rvaughn.
American UMC decline is a white people problem

In the latest Nurturing Faith Journal, there is a similar article based on a study by Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) released Sep 6, 2017. I will start a new topic on that.

No. You are plain wrong. This is precisely what I wrote: The rate of decrease in membership over the last ten years of the UMC vis-a-vis the SBC is 30,000 times the rate of decrease of the SBC, not that the SBC lost .05%. Figure it out if you think it matters, though the actual figure is 29,900. I just rounded it off.


Here is your link
http://forums.baptistlife.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=12704#p171907
which said:
Not that it actually matters, the UMC lost 15% of its membership in the last ten years, while the SBC lost .05% of its membership. Look it up.

I did look it up.

You statement in red above (another quote from you) is just as bad numerically as your quote above.


Actually, we're both wrong. The SBC lost about 3% (500,000) since 2007. The UMC lost a million since 2007 (15%) so the difference in rates of decrease is 12. Apologies all around for something so insignificant. Just multiply 7.2 million (UMC) times 212 to get 15.3 million (SBC). I got my numbers from creditable sources on the Internet, not a religion journal. In any case, I didn't bring up either denomination. Someone else did, probably someone whose animus for the SBC equals that exhibited in this forum by you, roughly the same as for Trump. In 1960, the UMC numbered 10.8 million, while the SBC numbered 9.7 million. By 2007, the numbers indicate a loss of 25% for the UMC and a gain of about 76% for the SBC. The population increased by about 70%. The SBC is stagnant and on its way down while the UMC is accelerating its loss. Reminds of the church at Laodicea.
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Re: Thought Provoking Editorial

Postby Haruo » Sun Dec 24, 2017 12:54 am

7.2 million times 212 is 1 billion 526 million 400 thousand. Leaving out a period can make all kinds of a difference!
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Re: Thought Provoking Editorial

Postby Dave Roberts » Sun Dec 24, 2017 7:13 am

It amazes me how the rhetoric of distraction seems to work. Rather than ever admitting a problem, it's easier to say, "But look at how much worse things are with ___________. As long as someone else has bigger problems, we don't need to face our own.
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Re: Thought Provoking Editorial

Postby linda » Sun Dec 24, 2017 4:16 pm

I know it is more fun to argue theology and politics, even on Christmas Eve.

But here is a nagging suspicion based solely on my experience with my family and friends.

Why are evangelical churches bleeding members? The older folks either got pushed out for not being the target demographic or because the music now hurts their ears, especially if it makes the blasted hearing aid screech.

The middle aged folks find other middle aged folks trying to lead while dressed/coiffed/shaved to try to look like younger hipsters hysterical, but they would rather worship at home than face that. Plus being squeezed financially they cannot go one more "tithe even on your insurance benefits" sermon.

The younger folks studied all this "here's how to raise or lower heart rates, release specific endorphins, and control mood with sound levels, beat, and lights" in middle school and now that they are old enough to reject inauthentic worship they do so in droves.

The teens and kids are missing with no adults left to run the programs.

Just my story and I'm sticking to it)

Merry Christmas!
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Re: Thought Provoking Editorial

Postby Sandy » Sun Dec 24, 2017 7:29 pm

I don't know where Jim is getting his numbers, but the SBC has lost slightly over a million members over the decade, right at 200,000 in just the last statistical year, and that's according to their ACP profile. The UMC has lost about half a million over the same period of time, according to their way of keeping stats. The SBC has seen its average weekly attendance drop 500,000 out of what was about 5.4 million over that same period. But regardless of the numbers, which are a major problem, the point is that Evangelicals are in the same cycle of declining membership and attendance now that they once criticized the mainline churches for being in, and they are ignoring the reason why.
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Re: Thought Provoking Editorial

Postby JE Pettibone » Wed Dec 27, 2017 8:57 am

Ed: Sandy, are you suggesting that there is a single cause for the wide spread decline in both church membership and attendance?
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Re: Thought Provoking Editorial

Postby Sandy » Wed Dec 27, 2017 12:00 pm

JE Pettibone wrote:Ed: Sandy, are you suggesting that there is a single cause for the wide spread decline in both church membership and attendance?


No. I made my point well before Jim got off track with the comparison between the SBC and the UMC. The point I'm making is that the overall decline in membership and attendance among conservative Evangelicals, which is accelerating and getting steeper, is due in a large part to the increased dependence on and connection to an increase in their involvement in secular politics. The sharp increase which has happened for many denominations, including the SBC, within the past couple of years has to do with the abandonment of character that was once a core value of the "Christian right". I don't expect the research groups under Evangelical control to admit that as a reason, but the secular ones will ask those questions, and point this out.
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Re: Thought Provoking Editorial

Postby Tim Bonney » Wed Dec 27, 2017 8:45 pm

Who knew that I’d step away for a few days and you all would be arguing about Methodist statistics? :D

I’ll answer any question I can but I’m not familiar enough with SBC stats to do a fair comparison. What Sandy says seems accurate to me but I’m not nearly as familiar now with how the SBC tracks membership as how the UMC does.

As said above, the UMC is an international Church. Yes, you can get stats for inside and outside the US. The UMC is world wide and not just an US institution.

As a world wide institution the UMC is growing. Membership loss is largely in the US. Some of the best analysis I’ve seen suggests that membership loss among white UMCers is in big part a function of birth rate. I see few anglo UMCer with more than two children. But as our denomination’s membership has always been strongest in small towns, farming families used to be much larger. So churches complain that the children’s programs over all have shrunk faster than the adult programming. The UMC is growing very quickly in Africa and South Korea.

We do keep pretty accurate statistics because our connectional nature demands it. I have reports on membership, baptisms, etc. that I am required to turn into the District Superintendent every year and I’m responsible for the accuracy.

I’m not sure what all the statistical data has to do with the main point of the thread. But, I hope you all had a blessed Christmas!
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Re: Thought Provoking Editorial

Postby Tim Bonney » Wed Dec 27, 2017 8:49 pm

Sandy wrote:No. I made my point well before Jim got off track with the comparison between the SBC and the UMC. The point I'm making is that the overall decline in membership and attendance among conservative Evangelicals, which is accelerating and getting steeper, is due in a large part to the increased dependence on and connection to an increase in their involvement in secular politics. The sharp increase which has happened for many denominations, including the SBC, within the past couple of years has to do with the abandonment of character that was once a core value of the "Christian right". I don't expect the research groups under Evangelical control to admit that as a reason, but the secular ones will ask those questions, and point this out.


I’d have to agree with Sandy’s analysis. While UMC membership decline in the US is a long trend, it isn’t anything sudden. It has nothing to do with current issues between liberals and conservatives. It goes back too far for that.

I have friends who left an evangelical church because the pastor preached right wing politics. They are fairly conservative Republicans. But they believe in church and state separation and were shocked at pulpit political endorsements.
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Re: Thought Provoking Editorial

Postby Jon Estes » Thu Dec 28, 2017 6:03 am

I am not sure if looking at the statistics of an organization like the SBC or UMC in decline or growth is able to give a fair picture of anything.

Looking at the local church (where church growth takes place) is a better place to judge.

In the SBC, there are many churches which are growing... numerically and spiritually. I think the same could be said about the UMC.

Likewise, there are churches in each organization which are declining.

Then there are too many factors in such a large swatch of churches geographically to say this is the reason for the decline. Some communities are declining -- therefore... Some churches do not want to grow or their definition to what growth they will have is all wrong (find more just like us).

With that said... The conversation seems a waste of time. Then again, a case could be made many places waste a lot of time of a lot of things in the name of church debate/discussion. If we didn't spend so much time on things like this, we might find more time to be involved in church growth things at our local church.
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Re: Thought Provoking Editorial

Postby Tim Bonney » Thu Dec 28, 2017 10:52 pm

Jon Estes wrote:I am not sure if looking at the statistics of an organization like the SBC or UMC in decline or growth is able to give a fair picture of anything.

Looking at the local church (where church growth takes place) is a better place to judge.

In the SBC, there are many churches which are growing... numerically and spiritually. I think the same could be said about the UMC.

Likewise, there are churches in each organization which are declining.



I do wonder too how any stat weeds out evangelism (new people becoming Christians) with just transfer growth. The mega churches I’ve been exposed to in the upper Midwest get most of their members from transfer growth. I don’t honestly consider raiding members from the surrounding churches to actually be “church growth.” No new souls were added to God’s kingdom, people just switched the kind of church they are attending.

If non-denominational churches are growing by evangelism, well and good. But if non-denoms are just disaffected Baptists, Methodists and Presbyterians, that’s not much good.
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Re: Thought Provoking Editorial

Postby Sandy » Thu Dec 28, 2017 11:25 pm

Jon Estes wrote:In the SBC, there are many churches which are growing... numerically and spiritually. I think the same could be said about the UMC.


"Many" depends on what you reference. According to the SBC's own digest of annual church profiles, you're talking just a couple hundred churches out of over 50,000, or fewer than 1%, which show any kind of measurable growth beyond fractions of percentages. And the vast majority of those are growing by transfer of membership from other churches, not through any meaningful kingdom growth or evangelism. The baptism numbers have been falling in the SBC since I was in seminary back in the late 1980's, leaving church and denominational leaders at a loss as to how to arrest the decline.

This kind of conversation is only a waste of time for those who have the blinders on about what's going on. Churches are distracted from their mission and purpose of preaching the gospel and winning souls and have headed down the slippery slope of political involvement and shifting loyalties based on false foundations. It's hard to get people to take your preaching seriously when you undermine it by abandoning your core values to support single issue political positions. The fact that the Washington Post has picked up on this, and articulated it, is plenty of evidence to support that thesis. Reactions of the conservatives on this board further underline the accuracy of the article's contention.
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Re: Thought Provoking Editorial

Postby Jon Estes » Fri Dec 29, 2017 7:51 am

I’m not sure what reactions you speak of. Taking a political side is not the reason for decline... it is spiritual apathy.

Blaming a non-spiritual anything for such is simply ignorant.
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Re: Thought Provoking Editorial

Postby Sandy » Fri Dec 29, 2017 10:58 am

Jon Estes wrote:I’m not sure what reactions you speak of. Taking a political side is not the reason for decline... it is spiritual apathy.

Blaming a non-spiritual anything for such is simply ignorant.


Spiritual apathy is a generic term. When the local church and its leadership is distracted from its spiritual mission and purpose, there is decline and the "spiritual apathy" that you speak of is a cause. But the initial article in this thread shows that there is some evidence, as well as an awareness both in the church and from outside, that the recent declines in attendance and membership among conservative Evangelicals is due directly to the "side" they've taken in politics, and particularly to the inconsistency between the values they preach and the candidates they support.

The ignorance is in failing to see what is happening.
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Re: Thought Provoking Editorial

Postby Jim » Sat Dec 30, 2017 11:20 am

Professional religionists (pastors, seminary profs, publications) either will not or cannot face the fact that endorsing such things as foreknowledge (actually predestination) will not wash now. The idea that God created everything (especially people) with the sure knowledge that it would be terribly flawed or that God knew from before the creation everything that would ever happen and every person who would ever live, especially knowing how terrible such things as wars, etc., would be, is to display God as a mendacious puppeteer, thus negating all pseudo-logic insisting only upon God's love, never mind the carnage. In both the mainline and evangelical groups, Calvinism is predominant and most of it is simply incomprehensible even to the young, much less older thinkers. Jesus (and other NT writers) made it very clear that walk goes before talk with regard to evangelizing, that is, physical help before sermons. Until both clergy and laity shut up about heaven and hell for a while and stress service, unbelievers will simply snicker, and rightfully so. This means financial sacrifice, something that's collectively entirely foreign to today's church, is vital. First, walk the talk, then talk the walk.
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Re: Thought Provoking Editorial

Postby Rvaughn » Tue Jan 02, 2018 4:26 pm

I don't know, but would guess that the UMC and SBC share in common decline among white people in the South. If that is correct, it suggests to me that something more is going on rather than folks bailing because of politics.

In that vein, I thought back over reasons (or excuses) folks gave/give for not visiting or coming back to churches I have been a member of or pastored. Only one person has ever mentioned politics. This was someone we invited to our church, who was out of church and had been for years. I don't doubt the sincerity of his reference to politics, but if he were of so mind to try he could find a church that isn't politically oriented (and he hasn't been willingly to try ours yet, either). I think over the 20th century there was a big shift in the general "worldview" of many southern white folks so that church is not high on their priority list. Of other reasons I think of that people gave for not liking churches I have been in, I can say that if they wanted to go to church they could have found a church whose theology and/or practice fit what they claimed to want.
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Re: Thought Provoking Editorial

Postby Tim Bonney » Tue Jan 02, 2018 4:39 pm

Rvaughn wrote:I don't know, but would guess that the UMC and SBC share in common decline among white people in the South. If that is correct, it suggests to me that something more is going on rather than folks bailing because of politics.



Last I looked the southern UMC conferences were shrinking slower than churches outside the Bible Belt. Also, just as FYI, our denomination is largely anglo. Some of this goes back to the creation of some fine historic black Methodist denominations (AME, CME, and AME Zion). There have been occasional talks about a merger in the past but those denominations are quite a bit smaller than the UMC and the impression is that they would get lost in the larger anglo denomation. That is basically how people from the Evangelical United Brethren felt when the EUB and the Methodist Church joined forces to become the United Methodist Church.

I see a shift in our culture away from organized religious faith expression and I believe a lot of it is driven by persons in the “none” category who used to be church attenders and now find church to be largely out of touch with the real world on issues like women in ministry, marriage, sexuality, etc.

According to stats I saw a couple of years ago from a religious research institute that presented at the Academy of Parish Clergy national meeting, many of those “nones” are former mainline (old line if you prefer) Christians who don’t feel the mainline is progress enough and are far too progressive for the Evangelical churches so they are going no where.
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