Calvinism Hard Right in a Left Hooked SBC

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Calvinism Hard Right in a Left Hooked SBC

Postby Stephen Fox » Fri Jun 28, 2013 6:10 pm

Fundamentalism remains the functional modus operandi despite all the special committee fogs

Well written piece that gets at the guts of the current hocus pocus SBC. Should help Sandy and William refine their thinking!!

http://abpnews.com/opinion/commentaries ... c4I92wo6M8
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Re: Calvinism Hard Right in a Left Hooked SBC

Postby KeithE » Mon Jul 01, 2013 7:08 am

Stephen Fox wrote:Fundamentalism remains the functional modus operandi despite all the special committee fogs

Well written piece that gets at the guts of the current hocus pocus SBC. Should help Sandy and William refine their thinking!!

http://abpnews.com/opinion/commentaries ... c4I92wo6M8

Good article about the SBC Fox.

To understand your post title, here is the last paragraph:
Ever the cultural pugilists, Southern Baptists, obsessed with blocking a liberal left hook, got hammered with a hard right. Dazed and disoriented, the denomination finds itself looking up from the canvas still spouting the rhetoric of championship days seemingly unaware of its declining influence.
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Re: Calvinism Hard Right in a Left Hooked SBC

Postby William Thornton » Mon Jul 01, 2013 7:41 am

I read the piece and found it pretty accurate and a good summary of the SBC's recent experiences with Calvinists. I had not heard of Jerry Faught but think he did a fine job.

If you wanted some discussion, Stephen, you could have copied and pasted a salient paragraph or two here.

There is a tentative truce among us at the moment but there is still a sliver of SBC Traditionalists who believe that we should have a quota system for new entity leaders that avoids too many Calvinists and also some who designate their giving around SBC seminaries (Southern and Southeastern) which they perceive to be excessively Calvinistic.
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Re: Calvinism Hard Right in a Left Hooked SBC

Postby Dave Roberts » Mon Jul 01, 2013 9:00 am

William Thornton wrote:I read the piece and found it pretty accurate and a good summary of the SBC's recent experiences with Calvinists. I had not heard of Jerry Faught but think he did a fine job.

If you wanted some discussion, Stephen, you could have copied and pasted a salient paragraph or two here.

There is a tentative truce among us at the moment but there is still a sliver of SBC Traditionalists who believe that we should have a quota system for new entity leaders that avoids too many Calvinists and also some who designate their giving around SBC seminaries (Southern and Southeastern) which they perceive to be excessively Calvinistic.


Having family members who were Primitive Baptists, I think Dort Calvinism is a dead end for the SBC. Eventually, if you believe that God has already determined who will be saved and that they will be saved no matter what efforts Christians make, then you are taking Baptist life back to a pre-William Carey period when evangelism and missions will cease to be important. Dort went beyond John Calvin who went beyond Augustine. The TULIP will be deadly for the SBC, IMHO.
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Re: Calvinism Hard Right in a Left Hooked SBC

Postby Timothy Bonney » Mon Jul 01, 2013 10:45 am

Dave Roberts wrote:Having family members who were Primitive Baptists, I think Dort Calvinism is a dead end for the SBC. Eventually, if you believe that God has already determined who will be saved and that they will be saved no matter what efforts Christians make, then you are taking Baptist life back to a pre-William Carey period when evangelism and missions will cease to be important. Dort went beyond John Calvin who went beyond Augustine. The TULIP will be deadly for the SBC, IMHO.


I'd have to agree Dave. I think many don't realize it because it is a slow poison. The SBC has been very committed to missions and evangelism over the years. But Dort Calvinism removes the real reason for being evangelistic and mission minded, the idea that our working with God will lead to the Holy Spirit guiding people to faith in Christ. If it is already a done deal it will eventually occur to people that their work in the kingdom is a waste of time at best and play acting by puppets on strings at worst.
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Re: Calvinism Hard Right in a Left Hooked SBC

Postby Sandy » Mon Jul 01, 2013 3:46 pm

Dave Roberts wrote:
William Thornton wrote:I read the piece and found it pretty accurate and a good summary of the SBC's recent experiences with Calvinists. I had not heard of Jerry Faught but think he did a fine job.

If you wanted some discussion, Stephen, you could have copied and pasted a salient paragraph or two here.

There is a tentative truce among us at the moment but there is still a sliver of SBC Traditionalists who believe that we should have a quota system for new entity leaders that avoids too many Calvinists and also some who designate their giving around SBC seminaries (Southern and Southeastern) which they perceive to be excessively Calvinistic.


Having family members who were Primitive Baptists, I think Dort Calvinism is a dead end for the SBC. Eventually, if you believe that God has already determined who will be saved and that they will be saved no matter what efforts Christians make, then you are taking Baptist life back to a pre-William Carey period when evangelism and missions will cease to be important. Dort went beyond John Calvin who went beyond Augustine. The TULIP will be deadly for the SBC, IMHO.


Somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 to 15% of Southern Baptists are Calvinists of varying degrees. I don't see that ever translating into enough influence to bring the denomination to the point where missions and evangelism cease to be important. Nor do I see the implementation of some kind of quota system to limit their influence. I think that will happen naturally.

Mega churches are a bigger threat to the growth of the SBC than Calvinism.
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Re: Calvinism Hard Right in a Left Hooked SBC

Postby TrudyU » Mon Jul 01, 2013 6:59 pm

Ed: Sandy how do you arrive at the conclusion that "Mega churches are a bigger threat to the growth of the SBC than Calvinism."
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Re: Calvinism Hard Right in a Left Hooked SBC

Postby Timothy Bonney » Mon Jul 01, 2013 8:02 pm

Sandy wrote:Somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 to 15% of Southern Baptists are Calvinists of varying degrees. I don't see that ever translating into enough influence to bring the denomination to the point where missions and evangelism cease to be important. Nor do I see the implementation of some kind of quota system to limit their influence. I think that will happen naturally.

Mega churches are a bigger threat to the growth of the SBC than Calvinism.


I don't have any reason to question your percentages. But it appears, at least from the outside, that a higher percentage of Calvinists are in leadership than 10-15%. You know what the Bible says about a little leaven. If the professors at seminary are Calvinists I'd think that the percentages may rise.
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Re: Calvinism Hard Right in a Left Hooked SBC

Postby Sandy » Mon Jul 01, 2013 10:47 pm

Timothy Bonney wrote:
Sandy wrote:Somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 to 15% of Southern Baptists are Calvinists of varying degrees. I don't see that ever translating into enough influence to bring the denomination to the point where missions and evangelism cease to be important. Nor do I see the implementation of some kind of quota system to limit their influence. I think that will happen naturally.

Mega churches are a bigger threat to the growth of the SBC than Calvinism.


I don't have any reason to question your percentages. But it appears, at least from the outside, that a higher percentage of Calvinists are in leadership than 10-15%. You know what the Bible says about a little leaven. If the professors at seminary are Calvinists I'd think that the percentages may rise.


Southern Seminary has always leaned toward a Calvinist view, not necessarily as intense or as strong as you might find in Reformed Christianity as a whole, but it is not a pervasive influence, and I wouldn't go as far as to say that a majority of Southern professors or graduates are Calvinists. More than any of the other seminaries, certainly, but I'm not even sure it is a majority of the students. At Southeastern, it is also an influence, but not as much as at Southern. Southern's alumni constitute slightly less than 10% of the pastors and missionaries in the SBC, Southeastern about 5%. There may be more Calvinists in leadership than the representative portion they hold in the SBC's total membership, but not much more than that, and not in such a way as they are pushing a Calvinist agenda ahead of them.

A lot of the Calvinist influence among Southern Baptists comes from the conservative, Evangelical community at large, via authors like R.C. Sproul, and John Piper in particular. The SBC has always operated with a mix of Calvinists and Non-Calvinists in leadership and its missionary enterprises, as well as within its congregations. I don't see anything threatening that balance now. There may be a higher awareness of it, and that always raises concerns among the various autonomous bodies within the Southern Baptist denominational structure. But I don't think it will ever be a threat to the evangelistic outreach or missionary enterprises of the SBC.
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Re: Calvinism Hard Right in a Left Hooked SBC

Postby David Flick » Tue Jul 02, 2013 1:39 am

Dave Roberts wrote:Having family members who were Primitive Baptists, I think Dort Calvinism is a dead end for the SBC. Eventually, if you believe that God has already determined who will be saved and that they will be saved no matter what efforts Christians make, then you are taking Baptist life back to a pre-William Carey period when evangelism and missions will cease to be important. Dort went beyond John Calvin who went beyond Augustine. The TULIP will be deadly for the SBC, IMHO.

Dave, I also have family members who were Primitive Baptists. One grandfather was a PB Elder (preacher). Although I'm no longer a Southern Baptist, I agree with your last sentence (above).
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Re: Calvinism Hard Right in a Left Hooked SBC

Postby William Thornton » Tue Jul 02, 2013 6:58 am

Timothy Bonney wrote:
Sandy wrote:Somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 to 15% of Southern Baptists are Calvinists of varying degrees. I don't see that ever translating into enough influence to bring the denomination to the point where missions and evangelism cease to be important. Nor do I see the implementation of some kind of quota system to limit their influence. I think that will happen naturally.

Mega churches are a bigger threat to the growth of the SBC than Calvinism.


I don't have any reason to question your percentages. But it appears, at least from the outside, that a higher percentage of Calvinists are in leadership than 10-15%. You know what the Bible says about a little leaven. If the professors at seminary are Calvinists I'd think that the percentages may rise.


There are not a few Traditionalist SBCers who are concerned about the leadership positions of our entities being filled by too many Calvinists and too few Trads. Consider:

Southern Seminary, Mohler; Cal-in-chief. His wide influence in the SBC is seen by some Trads as too wide. His proteges are everywhere.

Southeastern Seminary, Danny Akin; generally referred to as a Cal but who has said that "SE will be a Calvinist seminary over my dead body."

Midwestern Seminary, Jason Allen, new CEO; Mohler guy. I'll give him a trophy Calvinist or not, if he provides stable leadership to the one seminary that has had a series of dysfunctional leaders.

ERLC, Russell Moore; another Mohler protege.

NAMB, Kevin Ezell; not overtly Calvinistic but connected with Mohler. I like the job he has done with our most goofed-up entity and don't care whose protege he was or is.

The filling of hese high profile jobs with alleged Cals is why some Trads are calling for quotas for Trads and Cals.

Wonder if my mod/lib friends recognize the scenario here?
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Re: Calvinism Hard Right in a Left Hooked SBC

Postby Timothy Bonney » Tue Jul 02, 2013 8:30 am

William Thornton wrote:The filling of hese high profile jobs with alleged Cals is why some Trads are calling for quotas for Trads and Cals.

Wonder if my mod/lib friends recognize the scenario here?


Elaborate William?

I don't know how hard line the Calvinism is among these Calvinist leaders. But those of us who read history see what Calvinism did to Primitive Baptists in the Midwest. The history of Indiana American (Northern) Baptists is that some of the associations when Primitive in the 1800s. Those associations of churches now are almost dead. There are only a handful of primitive churches left in southern Indiana and they only meet about once a month.

Their brand of Calvinism was opposed to missions because they believed it interferred with God's will so churches that I pastored founded around the same time had the term "missionary Baptists" in their bylaws to distriguish them from Primitives. The primitives also, over time, stopped evangelizing believing God was taking care of it.

I read a recent Christian Century article which pointed to shrinking baptism numbers in the SBC. Could there be a link with Calvinism growing? Could it be that the fundamentalist takeover hasn't been the roaring success it claimed it would be? I do wonder what the factors are in SBC baptismal decline. Any ideas?
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Re: Calvinism Hard Right in a Left Hooked SBC

Postby Dave Roberts » Tue Jul 02, 2013 1:30 pm

After years of hearing the "slippery slope" argument about "even one liberal in our seminaries," I am amazed at the tolerance for an idea that was largely abandoned or at least powerfully modified by the missionary enterprise of the 19th and 20th centuries. Mohler, and his Calvinist friends keep citing 18th and 19th century Baptists who were indeed Calvinists before the late 19th century explosion of the missionary enterprise. It fascinates me that those who would argue a "slippery slope" for having even one non-inerrantists on a seminary faculty haven't connected the same standards to an inerrantists Calvinist.
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Re: Calvinism Hard Right in a Left Hooked SBC

Postby William Thornton » Tue Jul 02, 2013 3:07 pm

Timothy Bonney wrote:Elaborate William?


Some of my brethren like to count heads and keep score.

Timothy Bonney wrote:I read a recent Christian Century article which pointed to shrinking baptism numbers in the SBC. Could there be a link with Calvinism growing? Could it be that the fundamentalist takeover hasn't been the roaring success it claimed it would be? I do wonder what the factors are in SBC baptismal decline. Any ideas?


I don't think Calvinism can be blamed. Anecdotally, most Cs I know are far more evangelistic and serious about the Gospel than the normal SBC pastor. The only data I have seen found that Calvinists and non-Cs baptize at about the same rate.
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Re: Calvinism Hard Right in a Left Hooked SBC

Postby Timothy Bonney » Tue Jul 02, 2013 4:35 pm

William Thornton wrote:
I don't think Calvinism can be blamed. Anecdotally, most Cs I know are far more evangelistic and serious about the Gospel than the normal SBC pastor. The only data I have seen found that Calvinists and non-Cs baptize at about the same rate.


What do you attribute the decline in baptisms to?

In my own denomination some of the factors mentioned are lack of congregational vitality but also changing culture. It appears to me that nearly all of the major denominations are losing membership or seeing a decline in baptisms or other marks of evangelism. I don't have an answer for it but I wonder how much it is the church refusing to get out of the 1950s and how much of it is a culture that seems more interested in vague spirituality than committed faith.
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Re: Calvinism Hard Right in a Left Hooked SBC

Postby William Thornton » Tue Jul 02, 2013 5:27 pm

Timothy Bonney wrote:
William Thornton wrote:
I don't think Calvinism can be blamed. Anecdotally, most Cs I know are far more evangelistic and serious about the Gospel than the normal SBC pastor. The only data I have seen found that Calvinists and non-Cs baptize at about the same rate.


What do you attribute the decline in baptisms to?

In my own denomination some of the factors mentioned are lack of congregational vitality but also changing culture. It appears to me that nearly all of the major denominations are losing membership or seeing a decline in baptisms or other marks of evangelism. I don't have an answer for it but I wonder how much it is the church refusing to get out of the 1950s and how much of it is a culture that seems more interested in vague spirituality than committed faith.


Mostly aging churches, declining demographics...same as all mainline denominations.
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Re: Calvinism Hard Right in a Left Hooked SBC

Postby Dave Roberts » Tue Jul 02, 2013 5:54 pm

William Thornton wrote:
Mostly aging churches, declining demographics...same as all mainline denominations.


I went to an awful lot of meetings in the 1980's where they waved Kelly"s book, "Why Conservative Churches are Growing" and said that if the SBC were solidly conservative, such declines would never happen. Were those meetings led by "Pseudo Prophets?"
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Re: Calvinism Hard Right in a Left Hooked SBC

Postby William Thornton » Tue Jul 02, 2013 6:46 pm

Dave Roberts wrote:
William Thornton wrote:
Mostly aging churches, declining demographics...same as all mainline denominations.


I went to an awful lot of meetings in the 1980's where they waved Kelly"s book, "Why Conservative Churches are Growing" and said that if the SBC were solidly conservative, such declines would never happen. Were those meetings led by "Pseudo Prophets?"


Guess we now know.
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Re: Calvinism Hard Right in a Left Hooked SBC

Postby Timothy Bonney » Tue Jul 02, 2013 7:16 pm

William Thornton wrote:Mostly aging churches, declining demographics...same as all mainline denominations.


That would be my guess too.
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Re: Calvinism Hard Right in a Left Hooked SBC

Postby Timothy Bonney » Tue Jul 02, 2013 7:17 pm

Dave Roberts wrote:
William Thornton wrote:
Mostly aging churches, declining demographics...same as all mainline denominations.


I went to an awful lot of meetings in the 1980's where they waved Kelly"s book, "Why Conservative Churches are Growing" and said that if the SBC were solidly conservative, such declines would never happen. Were those meetings led by "Pseudo Prophets?"


You know I still see people quoting that book.
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Re: Calvinism Hard Right in a Left Hooked SBC

Postby Dave Roberts » Tue Jul 02, 2013 8:06 pm

Both church growth and church decline are much more complex than the single issue items that were bandied about. The SBC believed that address often quoted by Bill Leonard that they were "God's last and only hope." Somehow I think God is bigger than all denominational politics.
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Re: Calvinism Hard Right in a Left Hooked SBC

Postby Timothy Bonney » Tue Jul 02, 2013 10:25 pm

Dave Roberts wrote:Both church growth and church decline are much more complex than the single issue items that were bandied about. The SBC believed that address often quoted by Bill Leonard that they were "God's last and only hope." Somehow I think God is bigger than all denominational politics.


No one is God's last or only hope save Jesus.
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Re: Calvinism Hard Right in a Left Hooked SBC

Postby KeithE » Tue Jul 02, 2013 11:19 pm

Dave Roberts wrote:
William Thornton wrote:
Mostly aging churches, declining demographics...same as all mainline denominations.


I went to an awful lot of meetings in the 1980's where they waved Kelly"s book, "Why Conservative Churches are Growing" and said that if the SBC were solidly conservative, such declines would never happen. Were those meetings led by "Pseudo Prophets?"


Dean Kelley’s book (1972) was an interesting proposition and has held up for many years (~ 30 years), imo. But I have never been led to believe membership or attendance numbers are indicative of true followers of Christ. In fact the opposite may be true - Jesus said “Enter through the Narrow Gate”.

Also as I remember the book said the reason for the growth was that conservative churches are demanding. Some liberal churches (like Church of the Savior in WDC and Glide Memorial UMC in San Francisco also grew), but not as many. So the title of the book should have been “Why Demanding Churches are Growing”.

I sense that is fading in this “Megachurch” era. Nowadays growth belongs to those churches that provide programs and services to their members and the only demand is that people participate and they unreservedly join the enclave. So I sense Kelley’s theory on church growth coming from demanding actions needs revision. To what I’m not at all sure nor am I beholding to any such theory. Quality more important than quantity.

And I certainly agree with Dave when he says:
Somehow I think God is bigger than all denominational politics.
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Re: Calvinism Hard Right in a Left Hooked SBC

Postby Sandy » Wed Jul 03, 2013 7:43 am

I don't see anyone among William's list of SBC leaders who are Calvinist, or associated with Calvinism in the SBC, that would be a threat or deterrent to the evangelistic and missionary emphasis among Southern Baptists. It does not appear that the Calvinists in the SBC are of the same variety, or operate with the same intensity, as those who so drastically affected primitive Baptists.

The decline in baptisms is demographic. If you look at the state conventions, the baptism numbers are down in the deep South, and so is the membership and attendance. They've pretty much saturated that area among the homogeneous population that they reached in the 50's and 60's, and the churches are basically just swapping members as younger people move from traditional congregations to the megas. But outside of that area, most of the state conventions are seeing record baptism numbers, and growth in attendance, membership and total number of churches. The Philadelphia-New York corridor has seen a lot of new church plants in the past decade, and that work is showing up in the numbers in two state conventions. The upper Midwest, especially the Chicago-Milwaukee corridor, is seeing similar growth, as is the Northwest convention, and California. The numbers are smaller there, but that's where the action is. And I don't see Calvinism interfering with those efforts, in fact, a lot of those church planters are coming out of Southern.
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Re: Calvinism Hard Right in a Left Hooked SBC

Postby Timothy Bonney » Wed Jul 03, 2013 10:29 am

KeithE wrote:I sense that is fading in this “Megachurch” era. Nowadays growth belongs to those churches that provide programs and services to their members and the only demand is that people participate and they unreservedly join the enclave. So I sense Kelley’s theory on church growth coming from demanding actions needs revision. To what I’m not at all sure nor am I beholding to any such theory. Quality more important than quantity.


I'm not sure the megachurch era is going to last. This isn't true for all megas. But many megachurches I have had contact with specialize in recruiting the already convinced and committed Christians from other churches, so many of them do not contribute that much more to the growth of new Christians. Also, at least those I've seen in Iowa often specialize in persons of a certain age demographic which I think is short sighted. If you're demographic is people 30-45 what happens in twenty years when those folks are 50-65? Well, if you don't refocus you are in the same boat all the rest of us are in.

I think there are exceptions of note. United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, KS seems to be more broad based in age and participation. I think that has a lot to do with the depth of the founding pastor, Adam Hamilton. What their future holds will largely depend on who follows him.
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