The New Methodists - New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

The New Methodists
Reflections on the SBC Today
Dr. Chuck Kelley
In 1945 SBC Baptized 257,000
In 1955 SBC Baptized 417,000
Farmers need land
(church planting)
(decisional preaching)
Farmers plant Seed
(Personal Evangelism)
Farmers cultivate
after planting
Farmers harvest
(Revival Meetings)
The Key:
Not Methods
SBC Genius the
Old McBaptist, with
Land = Church Planting
Climate = Decisional Preaching
Plant = Personal Evangelism
Cultivate = Sunday School
Harvest = Revival Meetings
Had a GREAT Process!
The SBC Way of Doing Church
Embodied the Biblical Process of
Sowing and Reaping
I planted, Apollos watered,
but God gave the increase
(1 Corinthians 3:6)
In 1945, SBC Baptized 257,000
In 1955, SBC Baptized 417,000
Since 1955, SBC
has never
baptized 450,000
What Happened to the Farm?
Southern Baptists are a
Harvest-Oriented Denomination
Living In the Midst of an
Unseeded Generation
But Now I Say:
We are more like Gardeners
working the Window Boxes
than Farmers working the Fields
We are the
Grandchildren of Farmers
Keeping Harvest Stories Alive
Over Coffee & Dessert
at Family Reunions
Methods Not Crucial Issue
Bible speaks little of methods
Fire, Oven, Microwave
Accomplish Same Purpose
Tasks always Outlive Methods
(Even Yours!)
Money Not Crucial Issue
1906 – Created Evangelism
Department with NO Budget
1936 – Relaunched Evangelism
Department with ONE Person
1945-55 – THREE People in
Evangelism Department
Gospel’s Power Not Crucial Issue
Angola Prison
–Worst Setting
–Worst Prospects
–Awesome Results
Discipleship the Crucial Issue
The farmer, not the harvest,
is the root of problems in
SBC Evangelism
1. We are not Anointed
• Conversion – Work of the Spirit
• Revival – Work of the Spirit
Neither Conversions
Nor Revival
SBC Churches
We are Distracted
By a quest for Methods
By Theological Identity
By Fiscal Restructuring
By Uncertainty
Today we are more like a
driver in unfamiliar territory
than a racer roaring down
the track.
3. More Importantly
Southern Baptists
are Becoming the
New Methodists
I Love Methodists!
Key Role in Two Awakenings
Evangelized American Frontier
Holy Living a Core Value
Taught SBC about Harvesting
Today’s Methodists
Evangelism and Missions
Greatly Diminished
Behavior Blending with Culture
Greatest Theological Fight Over
Normalcy of Homosexuality
Setting Records for Decline
SBC as the New Methodists
Universalism Settling into our Pews
Tolerance Overtaking Conviction
Behavior Blending with Culture
Plateau Becoming Decline
Since 1983 I have been saying
70% of SBC Churches are
plateaued or declining
If Traditional Measurement of
Growth Used in 2007
Number of Growing Churches
Number of Plateaued Churches
Number of Declining Churches
8,765 (28.0%)
13,323 (42.6%)
8,765 (28.0%)
13,323 (42.6%)
9,174 (29.3%)
8,765 (28.0%)
Our Great Commission
momentum as a Convention
has vanished.
SBC Discipleship Process
Sunday Night Program
January Bible Study
Periodic Study Courses
R.A.s/G.A.s/Youth Camp
In era of our greatest growth
typical SBC churches had more
discipleship activities
than evangelistic activities
We were discipl-istic
The Biblical Worldview that
unconsciously inspired
Church as Farm in SBC Life
is like the baton for the USA
Men’s Relay in the Beijing
That Biblical Worldview
Inspiring Evangelistic Discipleship
Between SBC Generations
We neither maintained nor
reinvented discipleship
process. While others run
the race, we need a fresh
grip on the baton of a
dicipl-istic worldview
Put Another Way:
We put so much emphasis
on how our way of Doing Church
affected the LOST,
we failed to notice how it was
affecting the SAVED
Changes made for church
to be more welcoming
to the unchurched,
but little done to make
evangelistic discipleship
more desirable to believers
The most significant and
influential death in the
modern history of the SBC
was the death our
Discipleship Process
The defining characteristic of
Southern Baptists at our best
is a passionate
evangelistic discipleship
We refused to let go of one in
order to pursue the other
When we loosened our
grip on one to strengthen
our grip on the other, we
ultimately weakened our
grip on both
We do not know
Who We Are
The World does not know
Who We Are
Lost friends, neighbors do not know
Who We Are
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
If we do not produce
children, youth, and adults
who live out a biblical
worldview, no strategy for
doing church will make us
salt and light in the world
Southern Baptists are
not losing our voice
We are losing the
of our voice in the
music of today’s culture
The Lesson
Aggressive Evangelism
Aggressive Discipleship
will eventually
undo itself
The Most Crucial Issue in
SBC Evangelism Today is
Reinventing a Process for
Spiritual Maturity
children, youth, and adults
We need discipl-istic
Is there more to SBC
problems than this?
But there is at least this!
We are Becoming
The New Methodists
2 Chronicles 7:14-15 ESV
“If my people who are called by my
name humble themselves and
pray and seek my face and turn
from their wicked ways, then I will
hear from heaven and will forgive
their sin and heal their land.”
2 Chronicles 7:19-20 ESV
“But if you turn aside...
Then I will pluck you up from my
land… and this house that I
have consecrated for my name,
I will cast out of my sight...”
In times past God has
worked through our SBC
Churches in a mighty way
In times present God
is not working in a
mighty way through
our churches
If we do not repent now, only
one question remains:
To what wall will our children
return to weep and remember
the glory of what the SBC

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