In a recent post by “the editor” was titled “Rick Warren’s Methods are causing Decline in SBC.”

I thought to myself, “wow, that is amazing! I would really enjoy reading the research to show that Rick Warren is single handedly taking down the Souther Baptist Convention. I mean, we know that the SBC (and every other denomination) is in decline right now, and we finally have the answer! Grab your pitch forks, torches and keyboards!”

Alas, I was disappointed. The article only held a quote from Paige Patterson that said this

Weak preaching and cultural adaptability are just two of many reasons Southern Baptists give to explain the decline of membership and baptisms.

Really? I mean, REALLY? This guy is the president of my convention!?! Every summer I make my way through East Texas, visiting family members that live in small towns in the beautiful backwoods of the lone-star-state. And, every Sunday I attend First Baptist in whatever city I happen to be in. Sadly, I have watched these churched decline dramatically in the past 20 years of my life. And it is the same all over the US. But guess what — these church have about as strong of biblical preaching as you can hear, and their pews are about as counter cultural as you can get. Yet they are all still in decline!

So, we can say that it’s the new preaching and the new seating that has us in decline –yeah, that’s it (committees mumble “here here” and “ho hum” in agreement). Or we can look that logical reasons. Maybe we could address the fact that we love our turn of the century cultural practices more than we love people. Maybe we could address the fact that being a Christian means that we live in a safe and sound bubble of Christian music, Christian radio, Christian coffee shops, and Christian diet programs, rather than engage the world. Maybe we could address the fact that “mission” is a word that only happens by a few in foreign lands. Or we could blame it one the preaching and pews (as if we didn’t have enough of it). Just a a thought for the morning.

  • Share/Bookmark

Tags:

This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 14th, 2008 at 9:53 am and is filed under Christian Living, Church and Society, Editor, ODM Responses, ODM Writers, PD/SS, What Can You Say?. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
+/- Collapse/Expand All

17 Comments(+Add)

1   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
May 14th, 2008 at 10:04 am

One minor correction, Nathan – Paige Patterson isn’t the president of the SBC, he’s the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I believe he has been embroiled in quite a bit of conflict since he’s had that position.

The thing that gets me is that it’s always everyone else’s fault. I read that article, and the feeling I come away with is that this dude is saying, “why can’t you all be more like me”. He also has to pile on the guilt with statements like this:

Among other major causes Patterson listed for the Southern Baptist Convention’s downturn are prayerlessness and a failure to share Christ individually on a consistent basis.

I don’t know. It seems like he’s just as concerned with “church growth” as Warren. He just doesn’t like Warren’s methods.

2   oscar    
May 14th, 2008 at 10:21 am

I think this statement could have been better to use.

“[T]he shallow state of preaching has exacerbated the lethargy of the church and left the lost with no real Word from God,” said Paige Patterson, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, in a column in Baptist Press.

“The pastor ought to be the major source of theological understanding and the most able teacher of the Bible,” he added.

Seems to me that they are not preaching the Word from this statement

3   Tim Reed, Owosso MI    http://churchvoices.com
May 14th, 2008 at 10:35 am

The hilarity of this (in a sad, cynical way) is that guys like Patterson, and the ODMs envision themselves in a war in which they are heroic figures rallying the troops and sallying forth, when the reality is that they’re more like a bunch of war re-enactors who got lost and now go through the motions of battle while the rest of the world is unaware they even exist much less threatened by their war cries.

4   Richard Abanes    http://abanes.com
May 14th, 2008 at 11:03 am

This is an interesting take on the article: “Shallow Preaching, Cultural Adaptability Behind Baptist Decline, Says Leader,” which Ingrid re-titled “Rick Warren’s Methods are Causing the Decline in the SBC.”

For the life of me, after searching through the original article I found…. HEY …..NO MENTION of the name Rick Warren at all! How shocking!!! Oh noes! What a surprise! Could it be that Ingrid made assumptions all over the place and used whatever was at her fingertips to yet again condemn Rick Warren!? No, it can’t be!! Sigh.

The article, much to my expectations, has nothing to do with Rick Warren. What we do find Patterson saying is:

- “[T]he shallow state of preaching has exacerbated the lethargy of the church and left the lost with no real Word from God”

- “The pastor ought to be the major source of theological understanding and the most able teacher of the Bible”

- “Anemic pulpits create anemic churches and denominations”

- “cultural relevance has led many churches to lose the holiness of God and a thirst to be like God”

NOTHING in the article even suggests that Warren is being talked about, let alone is the main focus of Patterson’s ire and concern. But, of course, as usual, this does not stop Ingrid.

Notice that Patterson also says, “The more attune to culture Southern Baptists have become and the more we have incorporated the world into our worship, the more our baptisms have dropped!” This comment itself raises many questions:

1) How is Patterson defining worldly worship?;

2) What data is Patterson using to show that the drop in baptisms is indeed connected to whatever aspects of worship he sees as worldly?;

3) Is the drop in baptisms resulting from this so-called worldly worship in ALL churches, in some churches, or in just a few churches?;

4) Have baptisms dropped in only the “worldly” churches — or have they dropped in the SBC overall because they have actually just dropped in most SBC churches that have NOT incorporating Patterson’s so-called “worldy” worship ways? (in other words, it’s not the fault of the so-called “worldly” churches,” but it’s the fault of the die-hard, stuck-in-tradition, empty-pew churches who have NOT succumbed to whatever Patterson is identifying as “worldly”).

Patterson also stated: “To be unapologetically Baptist – embracing the exclusivism of Christ in salvation, the inerrancy of God’s Word, and the concept of a regenerate church witnessed by baptism and disciplined to live for Christ – may come off as being ‘mean-spirited’ . . . But when following Christ and the Bible, Baptists have no choice about what they endorse and what they reject, he said.”

Well, last I checked, Rick Warren and Saddleback were indeed “embracing the exclusivism of Christ in salvation, the inerrancy of God’s Word, and the concept of a regenerate church witnessed by baptism and disciplined to live for Christ.” So, exactly where Schlueter is getting her information remains a mystery. Hmmm, must be her own fertile imagination – no shocker there.

RAbanes

5   John Hughes    
May 14th, 2008 at 12:40 pm

Hey, I agree with Richard on this one. In other news the world ends at noon.

6   John Hughes    
May 14th, 2008 at 12:42 pm

PHIL – “I don’t know. It seems like he’s just as concerned with “church growth” as Warren. He just doesn’t like Warren’s methods.”

Careful Phil, Per Richard A, RW has renounced “church growth” per se. Its “church quality”.

7   Neil    
May 14th, 2008 at 12:45 pm

2) What data is Patterson using to show that the drop in baptisms is indeed connected to whatever aspects of worship he sees as worldly?

This is a classic fallacy, the fallacy of assumed correlation. Stating two facts does nothing in proving any correlation between the two.

Neil

8   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
May 14th, 2008 at 12:48 pm

Neil,
Yeah, as any scientist would tell you – “correlation does not equal causation”. Using Mr. Patterson’s logic, I could say that the number of baptisms is inversely proportionate to the number of hybrid vehicles on the road…

9   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
May 14th, 2008 at 1:01 pm

Using Mr. Patterson’s logic, I could say that the number of baptisms is inversely proportionate to the number of hybrid vehicles on the road…

Or that global warming is caused by a lack of pirates.

10   Taylor    http://www.calvarychapelcostamesa.com/
May 14th, 2008 at 3:46 pm

Richard Abanes,

I hope you don’t think this is a stupid question. I attend Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa and good friend of mine recently invited me to Saddleback.

i didn’t really get much out of the service and thought that it was shallow and feel-good. Later i went onto the Saddleback website to see what Saddleback believes and the page said that the Bible was God’s perfect guidebook for living.

if the Bible is just a guidebook for living then why is it important that it is innerrant (sp?)? That doesn’t make any sense to me.

11   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
May 14th, 2008 at 4:02 pm

OK – the shallow preaching of Rick Warren is drawing great crowds.

OK – the strong and judgmental preaching of Rick Warren is driving people away.

I am confused. The number of people who attend churches seem to be used to illustrate whatever point you make. More people – sign of shallowness. Less people – sign of shallowness. Big building – sign of shallowness. Small building – sign of shallowness.

Rick Warren has caused the housing market to fall.

12   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
May 14th, 2008 at 4:05 pm

Rick,
You’re getting it now…Rick Warren is to the ODMs as GWB is to Democrats. Everything can be blamed on him in one way or the other.

13   Richard Abanes    http://abanes.com
May 14th, 2008 at 4:29 pm

Taylor: Later i went onto the Saddleback website to see what Saddleback believes and the page said that the Bible was God’s perfect guidebook for living. if the Bible is just a guidebook for living then why is it important that it is innerrant (sp?)? That doesn’t make any sense to me.

RA: Not stupid, but a little surprising to me. That page you referenced, http://saddleback.com/flash/believe.html , is a Tier I quick reference bullet-point listing designed to simply give a very superficial view of Saddleback’s doctrines to unbeleivers who might be stopping by and wondering what the church is about.

Jesus met people where they were, Saddleback tries to do that too. Paul taught that if you give spiritual meat to a baby, they choke. Saddleback agrees. How many unbelievers do you know who understand what the phrase, “verbal-plenary inerrant Word of God” means? I don’t know very many at all – WAIT …. I know of none. I hope you see my point.

I am a little surprised, as I mentioned earlier, because it’s hard for me to understand how you missed, the link at the bottom of that page that states: “For a more complete statement, including Bible verses, click here.”

When you click there, the link gives you a Tier II statement of faith, and about the Bible, it reads: “The Bible is God´s word to all men. It was written by human authors, under the supernatural guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is the supreme source of truth for Christian beliefs and living. Because it is inspired by God, it is truth without any mixture of error. 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20,21; 2 Timothy 1:13; Psalm 119:105,160, 12:6; Proverbs 30:5)”

What’s the problem?

14   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
May 14th, 2008 at 4:35 pm

Taylor,

the Bible was God’s perfect guidebook for living.

if the Bible is just a guidebook for living then why is it important that it is innerrant (sp?)? That doesn’t make any sense to me.

Interestingly to say it is “perfect” would imply that it is inerrant…

Yet, Taylor, can you define “inerrant” and back it up with proof?

iggy

15   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
May 14th, 2008 at 4:46 pm

“the Bible was God’s perfect guidebook for living.”

That was a misprint. It should read:

“the Bible was God’s perfect cookbook for eating”.

I know people who actually believe that. I refuse to give up shrimp!

16   Dave Muller    http://blog.thewebsiteguy.com.au
May 15th, 2008 at 6:10 pm

can you define “inerrant” and back it up with proof?

I can: I. Todyaso!

17   Dave Muller    http://blog.thewebsiteguy.com.au
May 16th, 2008 at 12:28 am

I know people who actually believe that. I refuse to give up shrimp!

drool…non-kosher seafood…