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  1. Good for them! Numbers have been an idol for too long. We need to just take care of preaching the gospel and let God take care of the numbers.

  2. I think that the issue of the “numbers of SBC members” where there are more members than attenders at SBC churches, has something to do with the strategy for growth that they successfully employed in the 1950’s through 1990’s that saw them become the largest non catholic denomination in the USA.
    The strategy employed was the Flake method of Sunday School growth, where “enlistment” on to a Sunday School “roll” through door to door canvassing was viewed as giving the local church a “pool” from which to “fish” for winning people to Christ. Unfortunately sometimes this pool method made adherents who became members without neccessarily becoming regenerate.
    Still, lets not cast stones who have done the same thing; we have sometimes been swift to baptise youth into membership of our churches upon profession of faith, and slow to remove their names from membership when they fall away for fear of cutting off opportunites to win them to Christ later.

    This method of making “pools” from which we fish for people to come to know the Lord is something we practise in many ways, through youth groups, MOPS groups, Bible Clubs, craft groups, golf groups, etc. I remember sitting next to an ex serviceman at an RSL service one day waiting for the march to arrive, and chatting with him. He said, “I’m here to hear my pastor preach.” (I was thinking, “I thought I was the preacher today? Maybe I am at the wrong place”).
    “Oh that’s good. Which church do you attend?”
    “Oh I’ve been involved at XXXXXX baptist Church for many years!”, he said, mentioning the church I then pastored!
    The folk from a Bible study group meeting next door to him had prayed for him during an illness 15 years before and, though he had never attended the church, he had owned our church as his ever since.

    The “numbers” represent real people. Whatever the numbers look like for bragging rights, the truth is, we care for individual people and desire to win them to the Lord.

    While I agree with regenerate church membership as an important Baptist distinctive, I have always found it encouraging that in every place I have been,long term church members have come to me and said “I think I have only truly been born again of recent years.”

    So, in short..
    Regenerate church membership is the biblical goal.
    Sometimes our evangelism methods make the goal hazy.
    Its not about numbers its about people.

    the one extremely important thing that comes out of the SBC Indianapolis Convention is a renewed emphasis upon revival through pastoral brokeness, repentance, prayer and evangelism.
    May the Lord give us this.

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