Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ reflects

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Re: Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ refl

Postby Tim Bonney » Thu Aug 03, 2017 10:53 am

It is interesting your conversations about keeping membership stats.

Years ago the amount Methodist churches paid to the denomination (apportionment) was based on your active membership. So churches were quick to remove people from the rolls who didn't attend for several years. Now it is based on income so now membership has no effect. So now, like I experienced in Baptist churches, the local church is reluctant to remove members from the roll for fear of hurting feelings, etc.

My estimate over the years has been that many church's membership is inflated anywhere from 1/4th to a 1/3rd of the real actual participants in the church. That is anecdotal I know. But I think it likely that most church membership stats are inflated somewhat and that our actual decline as denominations is larger than most people would be willing to admit.
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Re: Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ refl

Postby William Thornton » Thu Aug 03, 2017 2:29 pm

Generally, SBC church membership stats are comparable over the years. I would guess that there has been some trend over the decades in how churches came up with these numbers but from one year to the next I think they can be used to make a comparison. I don't see any sbc leaders blaming losses in membership to changing the way churches report data.

My three churches were all membership heavy but not absurdly so.
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Re: Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ refl

Postby Tim Bonney » Thu Aug 03, 2017 4:27 pm

William Thornton wrote:Generally, SBC church membership stats are comparable over the years. I would guess that there has been some trend over the decades in how churches came up with these numbers but from one year to the next I think they can be used to make a comparison. I don't see any sbc leaders blaming losses in membership to changing the way churches report data.

My three churches were all membership heavy but not absurdly so.


Good to know. Glad there isn't too much inflation.

My church has two different kinds of membership "baptized members" and "professing members." Baptized members are mostly those baptized as infants but who have not yet been confirmed or were never confirmed. Only professing members are counted in our membership stats as active members, though we know how many persons have been baptized as well.
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Re: Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ refl

Postby JE Pettibone » Thu Aug 03, 2017 6:17 pm

Tim Bonney wrote:
William Thornton wrote:Generally, SBC church membership stats are comparable over the years. I would guess that there has been some trend over the decades in how churches came up with these numbers but from one year to the next I think they can be used to make a comparison. I don't see any sbc leaders blaming losses in membership to changing the way churches report data.

My three churches were all membership heavy but not absurdly so.


Good to know. Glad there isn't too much inflation.

My church has two different kinds of membership "baptized members" and "professing members." Baptized members are mostly those baptized as infants but who have not yet been confirmed or were never confirmed. Only professing members are counted in our membership stats as active members, though we know how many persons have been baptized as well.


:Ed: That is you know how many Have been "Baptized" as Methodist define Baptism.
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Re: Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ refl

Postby Sandy » Thu Aug 03, 2017 6:35 pm

Lifeway used to play a big role in keeping track of the SBC membership stats, especially related to Sunday School.

The discrepancy in membership in the SBC must be pretty big in many churches. The reported total membership has fallen to just north of 15 million, which reflects a loss of about a million over the course of a decade. The average weekly worship attendance has dropped by more than half a million during the same time. But there's a wide variance between the membership of 15 million, and the average attendance, now just a bit south of 5 million. And the way Southern Baptists do church membership, that means 10 million people who were baptized by immersion, not as infants, have made a decision somewhere along the line not to attend an SBC church. Probably a lot of those have gone to non-denominational churches that don't track or transfer membership, and some of those are most likely dead. But that's still a large figure of inactive membership.
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Re: Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ refl

Postby Tim Bonney » Fri Aug 04, 2017 11:42 am

JE Pettibone wrote:
:Ed: That is you know how many Have been "Baptized" as Methodist define Baptism.


Yes, and how how the majority of Christians define baptism, since you feel the need to take the dig Ed. :wink:
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Re: Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ refl

Postby Sandy » Fri Aug 04, 2017 1:48 pm

Tim Bonney wrote:
William Thornton wrote:Generally, SBC church membership stats are comparable over the years. I would guess that there has been some trend over the decades in how churches came up with these numbers but from one year to the next I think they can be used to make a comparison. I don't see any sbc leaders blaming losses in membership to changing the way churches report data.

My three churches were all membership heavy but not absurdly so.


Good to know. Glad there isn't too much inflation.

My church has two different kinds of membership "baptized members" and "professing members." Baptized members are mostly those baptized as infants but who have not yet been confirmed or were never confirmed. Only professing members are counted in our membership stats as active members, though we know how many persons have been baptized as well.


Is there some sort of effort made to move members from baptized to professing, or are most of those members out of touch and not attending? And what's the theology or doctrine behind infant baptism in a Methodist church? Is it actually sacramental, or is it more like the baby dedications Baptists do? I have a stepsister whose grandson and granddaughter, ages 12 and 10, were just baptized in a Methodist church, by immersion, along with a half dozen other kids at the same church, from a VBS. I'm guessing that followed some sort of confirmation, and that would make them professing members.
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Re: Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ refl

Postby Tim Bonney » Fri Aug 04, 2017 11:00 pm

Sandy wrote:
Is there some sort of effort made to move members from baptized to professing, or are most of those members out of touch and not attending? And what's the theology or doctrine behind infant baptism in a Methodist church? Is it actually sacramental, or is it more like the baby dedications Baptists do? I have a stepsister whose grandson and granddaughter, ages 12 and 10, were just baptized in a Methodist church, by immersion, along with a half dozen other kids at the same church, from a VBS. I'm guessing that followed some sort of confirmation, and that would make them professing members.


Yes, we do strongly encourage young people be confirmed in the Church. However if someone has dropped out of church attendance entirely then that may not happen. There is a good bit of encouragement from parents for pre-teen young people to be confirmed as that is part of our faith culture as well as our theology.

Yes, baptism is a sacrament as is Holy Communion. For United Methodists baptism is an act of God whereby God provides grace to the person being baptized. It is not an act of the pastor or the individual. It is an example of what Methodists call “prevenient grace” which is God’s grace working in us before we profess our own faith and is there to lead us on the path to personal faith.
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Re: Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ refl

Postby Tim Bonney » Fri Aug 04, 2017 11:10 pm

Sandy, to another part of your question, I don’t think any more Methodists are out of touch with their local church than any other denomination I’ve been a part of in recent decades. The average church attender still attends but less frequently than they used to. From what I read now regular attendance to a lot of people means a couple of times a month rather than the every week attendance you and I grew up with.
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Re: Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ refl

Postby linda » Sun Aug 27, 2017 5:59 pm

I have no clue how Calvinism is affecting the SBC. But I do know the local church has 3 less attending/members because of it:) Our local choice was hyper Cal and/or hyper Cal hyper fundy YEC. We loved the UMC services but being conservative, don't attend there. Local church here is more conservative than the whole denom, but we found more to our liking the Church of the Nazarene. And yet our church, we are told, lost members years ago when the CotN decided dispensational teaching was not in accord with Wesleyanism. Local church is still, however, a blend of those theologies. Sort of dispy/Arminian.

So I guess theological change does sometimes result in folks leaving a given body.

My question: do ya'll for see a coming split in the SBC into two conventions, modified Arminian and Calvinist?
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Re: Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ refl

Postby Haruo » Mon Aug 28, 2017 2:40 am

Tim Bonney wrote:
Sandy wrote:
Is there some sort of effort made to move members from baptized to professing, or are most of those members out of touch and not attending? And what's the theology or doctrine behind infant baptism in a Methodist church? Is it actually sacramental, or is it more like the baby dedications Baptists do? I have a stepsister whose grandson and granddaughter, ages 12 and 10, were just baptized in a Methodist church, by immersion, along with a half dozen other kids at the same church, from a VBS. I'm guessing that followed some sort of confirmation, and that would make them professing members.


Yes, we do strongly encourage young people be confirmed in the Church. However if someone has dropped out of church attendance entirely then that may not happen. There is a good bit of encouragement from parents for pre-teen young people to be confirmed as that is part of our faith culture as well as our theology.

Yes, baptism is a sacrament as is Holy Communion. For United Methodists baptism is an act of God whereby God provides grace to the person being baptized. It is not an act of the pastor or the individual. It is an example of what Methodists call “prevenient grace” which is God’s grace working in us before we profess our own faith and is there to lead us on the path to personal faith.

I understand the prevenient nature of baptismal grace when you are baptizing infants, but do you have the same view of the nature of grace in the baptism of an adult? I assume you don't baptize adults until they are in a quite different position vis-à-vis profession of faith in Christ than a child in the first postnatal trimester.
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Re: Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ refl

Postby Sandy » Mon Aug 28, 2017 6:39 pm

linda wrote:I have no clue how Calvinism is affecting the SBC. But I do know the local church has 3 less attending/members because of it:) Our local choice was hyper Cal and/or hyper Cal hyper fundy YEC. We loved the UMC services but being conservative, don't attend there. Local church here is more conservative than the whole denom, but we found more to our liking the Church of the Nazarene. And yet our church, we are told, lost members years ago when the CotN decided dispensational teaching was not in accord with Wesleyanism. Local church is still, however, a blend of those theologies. Sort of dispy/Arminian.

So I guess theological change does sometimes result in folks leaving a given body.

My question: do ya'll for see a coming split in the SBC into two conventions, modified Arminian and Calvinist?


I haven't been involved with SBC politics for a good long while. Most of the Southern Baptists I know up here are originally from other denominational bodies, and hard core adherence to particular reformation doctrinal positions doesn't rank as high as sustaining a local church with an evangelistic and ministry emphasis. But the SBC as a denomination has more to be concerned about than the influence of Calvinism. The drop off in membership is getting serious, and the last thing they need is a splinter or a split over something that makes zero difference against the priorities of Christian ministry.
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Re: Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ refl

Postby Rvaughn » Mon Aug 28, 2017 10:01 pm

linda wrote:My question: do ya'll for see a coming split in the SBC into two conventions, modified Arminian and Calvinist?
I am not SBC and have no particular insight on this issue. That never keeps me from having an opinion! :D

My guess is that there will be no major split over Calvinism in the SBC any time soon. Some churches on the extremes might pull out and go their own way, but I don't expect any kind of split into two major bodies. Just my opinion. Add $5 and buy a Starbuck's coffee.
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Re: Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ refl

Postby William Thornton » Tue Aug 29, 2017 5:22 am

linda wrote:My question: do ya'll for see a coming split in the SBC into two conventions, modified Arminian and Calvinist?


I do not see this. There are tensions but there is no good way to divide the assets and while some individuals and churches may leave, these are very few. The divide is not nearly as deep as with the conservative/moderate controversy where relatively few churches left and no SBC entities.

More likely are (1) a heightened awareness by individual churches of the impact on their congregation of a Calvinist pastor. Church pastor search committees are more educated on the Calvinist/Traditionalist (the preferred term for non Calvinists) matter and direct their minister search accordingly, and (2) an increased scrutiny on the hiring of SBC entity leaders relative to their theology.
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Re: Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ refl

Postby Haruo » Tue Aug 29, 2017 10:56 am

Is "Traditionalist" preferred by both sides as an antonym to "Calvinist", or is it only the Traditionalists that like to be called that? I remember a number of other cases in both secular and religious/SBC politics where there has been a lack of consensus over whether to call it, say, the Conservative Resurgence or the Fundy Takeover. Whether to say "alt-right" or "virulently racist". That sort of thing.
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Re: Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ refl

Postby Rvaughn » Tue Aug 29, 2017 4:28 pm

I'd say that mainly the Traditionalist prefer it. Many "non-Traditionalists" point out that Calvinism has a long standing "tradition" in the SBC and was once (maybe not in its strictest form) the majority position. Here's a read from one traditionalist about the term.
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Re: Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ refl

Postby Dave Roberts » Tue Aug 29, 2017 4:34 pm

William Thornton wrote:
linda wrote:My question: do ya'll for see a coming split in the SBC into two conventions, modified Arminian and Calvinist?


I do not see this. There are tensions but there is no good way to divide the assets and while some individuals and churches may leave, these are very few. The divide is not nearly as deep as with the conservative/moderate controversy where relatively few churches left and no SBC entities.

More likely are (1) a heightened awareness by individual churches of the impact on their congregation of a Calvinist pastor. Church pastor search committees are more educated on the Calvinist/Traditionalist (the preferred term for non Calvinists) matter and direct their minister search accordingly, and (2) an increased scrutiny on the hiring of SBC entity leaders relative to their theology.


What I see, William, is a lessening of denominational loyalty, already visible in some churches as they call pastors from outside the six seminary system of the SBC. Indeed, I see numbers in VA coming from Regent, Liberty, Fruitland, and a number of online schools. In talking with one search committee, I heard two members of the committee say, "We just don't want someone from the old seminaries." i see that as more and more likely for churches to seek pastors who do not possess the loyalty expected in the past for leadership.
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Re: Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ refl

Postby Sandy » Wed Aug 30, 2017 10:53 am

The "lessening of denominational loyalty" that Dave mentions is visible in convention attendance. The core group that attends conventions and makes denominational decisions is down to a tenth of what it was at the peak of the controversy. Registration runs under 6,000. I don't really see a lot of interest anymore in the names on the who's who list at Ninth and Commerce in Nashville. I've worked with several of the local pastors up here, and their primary interest in the SBC is its mission support. The focus of most of the churches here is evangelism and ministry to build churches. I doubt they'd be interested in a denominational fight over doctrine. David Platt and Russell Moore would be the two denominational leaders who have the most name recognition and admiration among the SBC leaders in Pennsylvania, both Calvinists, and Mark Dever is also well known and highly respected because of his Nine Marks group and emphasis on revitalizing churches, and because he'll come here for conferences and consults and doesn't charge an arm and leg to do it.

I also see that there isn't really much of an effort to keep Calvinists out. You've got Platt and Moore, who are probably the most liked, most popular denominational leaders especially among younger pastors. And the Calvinists don't seem to be knocking the door down, demanding to be included. Dever, for example, has his own ministry group that serves the needs of a lot of SBC churches, and crosses outside denominational lines. They network with like-minded people, and meet needs that the denomination doesn't, so there's really not a need to abandon support for missions. And I really don't think the Calvinists are interested in running the SBC.
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Re: Veteran of Southern Baptist Calvinist ‘reformation’ refl

Postby JE Pettibone » Wed Sep 13, 2017 11:30 am

William Thornton wrote:Yeah. I saw that. Ed especially will appreciate what is said about Mohler.


Ed: I am not sure how you use "appreciate". I have some doubts about how well Dever really knows Al. keep in mind Al did not just go from high school to Samford as Dever writes. Also keep in mind that other than His two years at PalmBeach Atlantic the bulk of his higher education And Some here may recall that long ago I said "I am not persuaded that Al Mohler has changed a lot but that he Knows on which side his bread is buttered." To some extent I now believe that perhaps his emphasis on Calvinism is a smoke screen to keep his image publicly apart from the ultra conservative SBC power brokers.
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