December 14, 2018

Southern Baptists versus United Methodists

There’s a pervasive narrative today of conservative Christian demographic decline. This narrative is partly based on reality and partly based on wishful thinking by some. But this narrative typically ignores the far more dramatic implosion of liberal white Mainline Protestantism.

The popular conventional narrative asserts that young people in droves are quitting evangelical Christianity because it’s too socially and politically conservative. Of course, the implication is that if only Evangelicalism would liberalize, especially on sexuality, then it might become more appealing.

But all the available evidence as to what happens to liberalizing churches strongly indicates the opposite. Mainline Protestantism is in many ways what critics of Evangelicalism wish it would become. And yet the Mainline, comprised primarily of the “Seven Sister” historic denominations, has been in continuous free-fall since the early to mid-1960s. Its implosion accelerated after most of these denominations specifically liberalized their sexuality teachings over the last 20 years.

The facts of Mainline Protestant decline are easily available. And yet the Mainline, once the dominant religious force in America, has declined so calamitously that for many it’s become almost forgotten. Often, when I speak to young people, I must explain what the Mainline is. Many young people, when they think of non-Catholic Christianity, are only familiar with Evangelicalism, which displaced the Mainline decades ago as America’s largest religious force.

So it’s necessary to repeat what’s happened to the Mainline. The Episcopal Church peaked in 1966 with 3.4 million and now has 1.7 million (50% loss). What is now the Presbyterian Church (USA) peaked, in its predecessor bodies that later merged, in 1965 with 4.4 million, and is at 1.4 million (68% loss). The United Church of Christ peaked in 1965 with 2.1 million and now has 850,000 (60% loss). What is now the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), in its predecessor bodies that later merged, peaked in 1968 with 5.9 million and now has 3.5 million (41% loss). The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) peaked in 1964 with over 1.9 million and now has just over 400,000 (80% loss). United Methodism, in its predecessor bodies, peaked in 1965 with over 11 million and now has 6.9 million in the USA (nearly 40% loss). The American Baptist Church peaked in 1963 with over 1.5 million and now has less than 1.2 million (25% loss.)

During the Mainline implosion the percentage of Americans belonging to the Seven Sister denominations declined from one of every six Americans to one of every 22. If the Mainline had simply retained its share of population it would stand today at about 55 million instead of about 16 million.

Nearly all the Mainline denominations have liberalized their sexuality standards over the last 15 years, precipitating accelerated membership loss. For example, the Presbyterian Church (USA) overturned its disapproval of homosexual practice in 2011 and declined from 1.9 million to 1.4 million in 2017, losing half a million members, or 25% in just 6 years. The Episcopal Church elected its first openly homosexual bishop in 2003 and declined from 2.3 million to 1.7 million, or 26%. The two Mainline denominations that have not officially liberalized on sexuality, United Methodism and American Baptists, have declined the least.

So the proposal from some that conservative stances on sexuality precipitate church decline is not of itself supported, as the fastest declining denominations in America, and throughout the West, have liberalized on sexuality. Some conservative denominations are declining, but all growing denominations in America and the world are conservative theologically and on sexuality.

Recently I have tweeted some of these statistics about Mainline decline, with respondents insisting that Evangelicals are declining too. But by some counts, Evangelicalism is retaining its share of the American population while liberal Protestantism is plunging.

All growing denominations in America are conservative, including the Assemblies of God, which in 1965 had 572,123 and now has 3.2 million (460% increase), the Church of God in Cleveland, which in 1964 had 220,405 and now has 1.2 million (445% increase), the Christian Missionary Alliance, which in 1965 had 64,586 and now has 440,000 (576% increase), and the Church of the Nazarene 1965, which in 343,380 and now has 626,811 (82% increase).

Common responses to reference of Mainline decline are BUT THE SOUTHERN BAPTISTS! And it’s true that America’s largest Protestant body has been declining for 18 years. But its decline from 16.4 million to 15 million represents an 8 percent loss, not comparable to the average Mainline loss of nearly 50%. Southern Baptists displaced Methodism as America’s largest Protestant body in 1967 and now outnumber United Methodists by two to one.

Southern Baptists leaders commonly bewail their 18-year membership decline and urge more focus on evangelism. Their aggressive church planting resulted in 270 additional congregations in 2017 and a twenty percent increase in congregations over the last 20 years, with a strong focus on creating new black and Hispanic congregations. The Southern Baptist Convention likely is more racially diverse than Mainline Protestant denominations, which are over 90% white. And Southern Baptist worship attendance, even amid membership decline, increased by 120,000 in 2017.

Mainline Protestantism shows no sign of any institutional desire to reverse its 53-year membership decline, instead doubling down on the theological and political stances that fueled much of this decline. Some of its denominations, like the Presbyterian Church (USA), at current rates of decline, may not exist in 15 years or less.

Sometimes the demise of Mainline Protestantism is equated with the demise of American Christianity. Media sometimes report dying Mainline congregations without citing different stories at newer evangelical churches. But just as common if not more so is the narrative of ostensible Evangelical decline. White Evangelicalism maybe in decline, but Evangelicalism is increasingly multiethnic. Some evangelical denominations, like the Assemblies of God, which has no racial majority, successfully reach immigrant populations, while Mainline Protestantism fails to do so.

Here’s my suggestion on why there’s lots of focus on supposed Evangelical decline based on its purportedly unappealing moral stances. Evangelicalism surged during the 1970s through 1990s, including growing campus ministries, creating new generations of evangelical young people, some of whom later recoiled from the conservative religious upbringing of their youths. They sometimes blog and pontificate on the failures of evangelical culture, commending an idealized more liberal Christianity, usually unaware of already preexisting liberal Christianity’s dramatic collapse.

Meanwhile, Mainline Protestantism, when its implosion started in the early to mid-1960s, began losing baby boomers and barely had representation among subsequent generations. In recent decades there have not been many young people left in the Mainline who could subsequently complain or pontificate about experiences in their liberal denominations.

It’s important to reiterate the details of Mainline Protestantism’s long and ongoing spiral as a warning to other churches. Whatever the problems of evangelical Christianity, becoming more like liberal Mainline Protestantism is not a remedy.


 

55 Responses to Southern Baptists versus United Methodists

  1. The decline in the Southern Baptist Convention may be due to withdrawal of the liberals who formed the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship when the conservatives took control of the Southern Baptist Convention.

    • Jeffrey Walton says:

      Ansley, it is possible that the CBF congregations have contributed to the SBC decline, but I’d argue it isn’t the main factor. Most of the CBF departures were in the early 1990s, whereas SBC decline didn’t begin until the mid-2000s.

  2. Sky McCracken says:

    Curious if you talked to Thom Rainer or Ed Stetzer of the Southern Baptist Church, in the writing of your article.

  3. Ken Dean says:

    Such a shame. Glad I’m Nazarene by theology. I stand a conservative UMW church .

  4. Roger A Keats says:

    Agree, but remember we Evangelical Methodist Congregations are retaking our Church back. You notice the Book of Discipline for our Pastors is still solidly traditional and we have stopped the East Coast Elites from forcing us further to the left. ALSO, Methodism is growing world wide. I think approximately 40% of our world wide membership is African and Asian. Our Missionaries are carrying GOD’s word to the world outside America. We are investing in Missionaries and out reach where the world population is growing. Within our lifetime, the Presiding Bishop of World Methodism will be an African and he will be a solid Evangelical. That is fine by me.

  5. I’m not sure what you mean by conservative UMW church.
    This post matches my understanding of the current decline of mainline churches. Those that stand fire something grow, those that stand for anything die. After all, why bother with them if they are meaningless?

  6. J.Seth says:

    I recognize the focus on Mainline US, but if you toss in the growth of the church in areas beyond the US what does this say? I understand that the UMC has grown phenomenally in Africa. If the numbers are of the global UMC has the UMC grown? And has it grown because of the growth in Africa that is known to be quite conservative?

  7. Gordon Jewett says:

    You say that “by some counts, Evangelicalism is retaining its share of the American population” but I would like to see a detailed analysis of those figures if possible. My impression is that younger generations(Baby-boomers and younger) in the United States are un-grounded in the basics of Christian belief and are unresponsive to the Gospel as it is being presented to our culture now.

  8. Dr. Daniel Mercaldo says:

    Thanks for speaking honestly about what is happening in Protestantism today. One SBC leader told me that much of their recorded decline is really “cleaning up the books” on true church membership, rather than an actual loss of living and active members. The SBC’s renewed focus on evangelism should slow down or stop any real drop in numbers, while adding “new blood” to the roles of their churches. Amen.

  9. David says:

    “Membership in the United Church of Canada, the country’s largest Protestant denomination, peaked in 1967 at 1.06 million. It’s since fallen to 683,000 official members, said national church official Mary-Frances Denis.”

    “Overall average attendances at Sunday services across England fell by 22,000 to 764,700 in 2014 – a fall of seven per cent in just five years. The proportion of the population attending Sunday services now is only around one third of that in the early 1960s.”

    “According to the German Bishops’ Conference, only 10 percent of registered Catholics attend church on Sundays. Among Protestants, it’s 3 percent.”

    “The survey of 16- to 29-year-olds found the Czech Republic is the least religious country in Europe, with 91% of that age group saying they have no religious affiliation. Between 70% and 80% of young adults in Estonia, Sweden and the Netherlands also categorise themselves as non-religious.

    The most religious country is Poland, where 17% of young adults define themselves as non-religious, followed by Lithuania with 25%.”

  10. Steve LeMaster says:

    People’s disinterest in Church and spiritually related things of God is to their own detriment. People are temporary, in this realm of life while God is eternal. While they may pull away through their sin or disinterest, His Will will be done. In that, we can take comfort!

  11. Dixie says:

    Sadly true, and an essay that should be read by everyone.

    It does, however, beg another question: Where are all those leaving the Mainline Denominations going?

    It would be interesting, albeit almost impossible to track the rise of “First Century” house or home churches with little or no affiliation to any centralised bureaucracy. Also interesting would be tracking the growth of Messianic Judaism which consists mainly of independent congregations today but was initially the membership of the actual First Century churches.

    • Joe says:

      Some of those leaving – although I don’t know the percentage, it is not trivial – are going to congregations that are part of new more-conservative denominations (like ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians), to congregations that are part of existing more-conservative denominations (like the Presbyterian Church in America), or to non-denominational churches. Sometimes it is a matter of entire congregations switching their affiliation from a mainline denomination to an evangelical one.

  12. Rebecca says:

    Curious how this applies to Lutheran Church Missouri Synod? A 98% white church, associated as mainline by evangelicals not familiar with it (guilty by name association), very conservative, and declining very rapidly. A large subset? A footnote?

  13. David says:

    You cannot have birthrates below replacement levels since the 1950s and not expect a decline to show up some day. This is especially the case as immigrants to the US tend not to be Mainline Protestants. I have read someone describing their church as being “typical” with a membership in their 60s and higher and the Sunday School educational building rented out to a preschool which keeps the place afloat financially.

    I have a theory that traditional culture in the US will likely disappear by about 2030. This includes classical music, ballet, attending art history lectures at museums, fraternal and service organizations, and belonging to a church. Some denominations have bought time with popular music, eliminating hymn singing and dreary responsive readings. However, even Broadway shows do not run forever and the entertainment aspect of services will not always be a draw.

    • Steve says:

      Depends on what you consider disappearing. Of course certain organized proponents of the things you mention have or may have fallen on hard times, such as symphony orchestras, ballet troupes, fraternal clubs. That does not mean that classical music, ballet or service organizations will not continue to exist; instead the providers, recipients and mediums through which these services are provided have changed and continue to change. There continue to be people devoted to these disciplines and audiences that have a high appreciation of their efforts. Just because something isn’t reflected in the mass culture doesn’t mean that its dead. Frank Zappa said that the record companies didn’t want to put his music out, saying it had “no commercial potential”. His music still got out, and is still out, although it commanded and still commands a relatively small audience. Yesterday I watched a recent band called Snarky Puppy on YouTube that was firmly in that tradition with extremely high musicianship that had over a million watches. I am sure classical continues to attract highly disciplined talent and people will continue to listen to it. I just heard some in a car ad (Vivaldi’s Four Seasons). As for service organizations, I am sure many people want to be of service, and serve at places like homeless shelters if not fraternal organizations. Just because you don’t have an interest in these things doesn’t mean nobody else does. As regards culture, go to a place like YouTube and look at the number of hits; that’s a pretty good indicator of how popular something is (Facebook is much less reliable, considering the existence of click farms and how Facebook considers a video viewed after three seconds).

  14. William says:

    Liberals in the USA are working relentlessly 24/7 to erase all vintages of traditional culture. Problem — they have no clue of what will replace it outside of complete moral decadence. Maybe anarchists would be a better descriptor of them.

    • Phil says:

      In parts of Western Europe, it’s going to be Islam. There are a number of near-empty Scottish and English church buildings being rented out for Islamic services because they don’t have enough mosques to keep up with demand. Let’s not forget a former Archbishop of Canterbury endorsed Islamic law.

  15. Walter Pryor says:

    Another reason for the decline, besides Liberalism, which embraces homosexuality, is the Left Wing Communist ACLU! Along with the Communist Mainstream Press. They too are anti-God.
    The ACLU has managed to take Christ almost out of our culture altogether. That leaves a big moral hole!
    That hole was and is being filled by Satan.

    • William says:

      True. And, mainline Protestantism seems to be capitulating by abandoning the Cross of Jesus Christ and his sacrifice there as the one and sufficient atonement for rampant sin and moral decadence. Any references to heaven or hell after death seems to be considered offensive and off the table. The church has allowed itself to be intimidated into near irrelevance with relation to preaching the Good News Gospel of Jesus Christ to a decaying world.

      • Bonner says:

        WILLIAM, WALTER….You are both right…OUR Churches have taken up the plight of the “325ers” for more power and money for them selves and NOT TAKEN UP THE COMPASION and WAYS OF JESUS…Conservative Church that follow the ways and teachings of JESUS continue to flourish and grow WHILE those that are LIBERAL are destroying themselves and this country, and going by the way side.to damnation…….

    • David says:

      The ACLU has no power in of itself except to launch court cases. It is the courts that have decided against the intrusion of religion into government. Some people have apparently not gotten over the school prayer and Bible reading decision. Of course, that was strictly a Protestant version and we now have more groups represent in schools today than in the past. Of course, the question why students could not simply pray privately has never been addressed.

      • Rebecca says:

        We used to be a Christian country but since WWII we have had people in the government and even in the churches working to get rid of Christianity. That is why we have had all the anti-Christian laws passed. The government wants pluralism. Forms of universalism are favored. Mindfulness, a pagan form of solving personal problems is being promoted in the schools right now as a replacement of prayer. The head of Nike, a Buddhist, is one of the people behind that movement. There’s money to be made in immorality and the government has approved of legalization of many sins: pornography, gambling, drug use, adultery, and many others. They make money and make life hard for decent people.

        • David says:

          “Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen [Muslims];” Ratified unanimously by the US Senate and signed by President John Adams, 1797.

  16. William says:

    If The Episcopal Church has 1.7 million members, then I’m the President of the United States. That would be “yuge.” TEC—and I am a priest in TEC—has so lowered the bar on membership that to be considered a member in good standing you only need to receive Holy Communion four times a year.

  17. William says:

    Actually let me edit my previous post on membership in The Episcopal Church (the bar is set even lower than I initially claimed.). Active Baptized Members defined: Any person whose baptism is recorded in the Register of Church Membership and Rites (Parish Register) and contributes to or participates in the worship and communal life of the reporting congregation, regardless of how much or how little, should be considered active and counted in this report.

  18. Donald W. Dayton says:

    I have two comments.

    The true American Baptist decline is worse than the statistics you cite. I worked for nearly two decades at Northern Baptist TS. One of the quirks of the ABC is the generous Rockefeller endowed M&M Board retirement/insurance program that then required a 14% of salary contribution by the church, seminary or whatever. Many ethnic Baptists outside the ABC join the ABC as dually alligned churches. The pastors often encourage this step to encourage the retirement fund contribution. This fact inflates ABC statistics because many Baptists get counted twice, once in their own group and again as ABC.

    Secondly, one needs to be careful about simplistic correlations of conservative and growing/liberal and declining. Much of this talk comes from Dean Kelley’s famous book WHY CONSERVATIVE CHURCHES ARE GROWING. Kelley once told me that the title came from the publisher over his protest. His thesis was that high demand churches grow. Don’t forget that the growing Nation of Islam was one of his illustrations. I think the correlation of theology and growth does not necessarily work–at least in some more simplistic interpretations.

  19. Robert Peurifoy says:

    Thanks, love the statistics (yes, I know i’m weird.) My observation’s are this. Most are not leaving, just drifting away. New American religions are vacations, sports, campers and inept leadership. Lack of vision, not just of leadership, but of congregational leaders as well. Plus there is the “don’t stir the pot.” mentality. One of my hobbies when visiting other clergy is going through their libraries. Many have not read a thing since seminary. I could keep on going.

  20. Ricky Ferdon says:

    What one can see is a preponderance of the “doctrines of demons” as Paul Washer would label it, in so many modern churches who seek to attract members even to the extent of winking at sin. What is needed is nothing new at all – see the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah. Preaching the “hard Word” ala the style of Paul in his letters, is every church’s mandate. There is no compromise to the infallible Word of God. Those that are drawn to the Cross seek the Truth of God’s Word and not lattes and pastries before service, nor light shows and expensive video and sound equipment. Preach the word and baptize! Since when did the church decide that bringing the world, which it is to shun, into Sunday services and church doctrine was scriptural. As well, no matter how many learned and degreed men decide that they may alter, take from or add to Scripture, it is forbidden. Leonard Ravenhill stated, “This is why believers back away from some Bible Truths – they are too demanding. Whenever the Bible holds out rewarding promises either for this life or for the next, it is a delightful book to us. But when it touches on the body or on the manner of life that would mark us as daring to differ from the status quo in Christian circles, we say that the Bible needs ‘interpretation’. ” Preach and teach the “True Word” as it is written. If your church/denomination falls away because of it, then the problem lies with the leaders and reason for building what they built to begin with. God’s Word never fails: never has nor ever will.

    • polly says:

      Out of all these posts, yours is the only one that touches the truth of Jesus. Lots of pastors these days are cognizant of only two things, money and membership. They are not shepherds, nor do they have the passion to preach the truth.

  21. Mark says:

    The huge role of the media and large sectors of academia must also be recognized when studying Christian decline. When Christians began abandoning the academy, including the teaching of Apologetics, the stage was set for the marginalization of Christian thought, ironically the very philosophy which was central to the founding of the academy and western culture in the first place.

  22. MikeS says:

    What is really and seriously weird is that I have never heard a mainline leader say something like “In light of our drastic decline, we must sadly conclude that our liberal approach to religion is a failure, and it’s time to terminate this approach and adopt a new one”. But no one says this. Everyone can see that it’s a failure but they won’t even acknowledge it, much less change. This is world-class delusion & denial, right up at the Baghdad Bob class.

    • Donald says:

      You’ve put your finger on the fundamental issue – profound failure of leadership. In any other field such dramatic losses of ‘market share’ would be greeted by stockholders / boards of directors conducting a wholesale sacking of such leaders.
      But not in Mainline Denominations. Judicatories at every level keep doing the same things with different names and expecting different results. C. S. Lewis described this style of leadership very well in “The Screwtape Letters” as Screwtape laments the inability of the Research Department in the Kingdom Below’s inability to discover what the “Enemy’s” true plan is.

      The documentation in this essay is current and should be widely distributed.

  23. Rebecca says:

    You don’t need to leave the Baptists and other evangelicals out of the mix on the decline of the churches. They have had many leaders working behind the scenes to change things. Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo, and a whole slew of others have been busy turning evangelicals into radical leftists and the sheep are aware of what is going on. Here’s one site, “Red Letter Christian,” which shows they are going for the social justice heresy.

    • Donald says:

      People forget that Jim Wallis was a member of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) in the late 1960’s early 1970’s. His more recent photo looks like he hasn’t missed many meals although he’s always good at telling other people how we’re to live our lives.

  24. Dan W says:

    OK, so the fault lies with – government, media, progressives, millennials, boomers, bishops, young pastors, old pastors, female pastors, professors, seminaries, LBTQ community, and of course Hollywood. Whew! I’m glad none of this is OUR fault!

    (All kidding aside, Satan has been very busy!)

    • William says:

      Satan has convinced a huge chunk of this age that he is not real and, therefore, there is no hell. Even too much of the church has been conned by the Great Deceiver. So, eat, drink, and be merry — who needs Jesus?

  25. Dan W says:

    There is a HUGE industry dedicated to, and a lot of money/effort expended by congregations trying to attract the never churched. How much effort do Mainline congregations expended trying to retain active members or re-attract former active members? It seems to be low on their list of priorities…

  26. Parker says:

    The tragedy in all this is that so many people are not being led to Christ. His direction to His disciples is to make more disciples. To do that, we must introduce people to His love and the joy Jesus offers. To introduce Him, we must become their friend, and then share His message. The Holy Spirit is well able to touch their heart, and then lead each one into that wonderful relationship. Where that approach is taken, to Body of Christ grows. Otherwise there is no attraction or power or growth.

  27. Rev Dan J Frisby says:

    I notice there is no comparison to theological constructs of the various churches that indicate/imply/invest in the comparisons of definitions of #salvation

  28. Jim says:

    United Methodists allow gay bishops, yet you say they are not embracing liberalism? They certainly are!! The Wisconsin Evengelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) and the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS) still teach that homosexuality and transgenderism are sins against God, yet they are shrinking. Your logic is flawed!!

    • Jeffrey Walton says:

      As Mark noted, some conservative denominations are indeed shrinking. The point is that ZERO liberal denominations are growing.

    • Scott says:

      Hi Jim, The United Methodist Church has a ban against gay clergy and it has been upheld repeatedly in general conference. We have a group of rebels that are ignoring our book of discipline. This is why we are having a called general conference in February. Please pray the traditional’s stand their ground and enforce our traditional beliefs.

      • John Smith says:

        Even more important the ban is not enforced. If the Traditional Plan passes but has the same people enforcing it that enforce the current one what does it matter. So although one may say the UMC is “against”, at least in writing, in practice it is very much in the LGBTQ camp.

        • Donald says:

          Most clergy, and nearly all leadership, are conflict-averse. So good luck with trying to get any judicatory or official to enforce any “Book of Discipline / Book of Order” stricture.

          • John Smith says:

            I’m certain it won’t happen. All the effort and emotion being spent to pass the “traditional” plan will enshrine the tradition of looking the other way or soft pedaling any action. If the UMC had enforced the BoD it would never have gotten to this point but to expect the UMC to learn from history is expecting a bit much.

  29. Phillip Carr says:

    Mark,
    One point to remember about SBC churches is that they typically DO NOT purge their membership roles of inactive members, which certainly exaggerates their membership profiles. From what I’ve observed, UMC churches tend to be somewhat lax as well, although district/conference apportionment formulas certainly encourage tallying actual church membership. As a former PC(USA) member, I can attest to their diligence in purging inactive members, especially given the weight of their presbytery/synod/general assembly apportionments.

  30. Scott says:

    If you extrapolate what happened in the PCUSA church with a 25% drop in membership (US) since approving gay marriage, onto the Methodist church you come up with a US membership drop of 1.7 million by 2026 with US membership dropping to about 5.2 million. You can expect most of the drop in the large evangelical churches and the southern churches. This is the group that pays the largest amounts of the apportionment’s. It is no secret that the large churches are the ones that pay the lions share of the apportionment’s and are largely evangelical. The smaller, rural churches will suffer greatly financially and in an attempt to stay afloat will stop or greatly reducing paying apportionment’s which they already consider an unjust waste of money. All the elders who think that the OCP will protect their pensions, better think again. It will destroy them and the system will have to cut back payments drastically. Major changes have major unexpected consequences and the OCP will have drastic unexpected consequences, especially to those who count on denominational money to survive.

    • Loren Golden says:

      The Presbyterian Church (USA)’s own “One Church Plan” was called “Gracious Dismissal”.  Congregations “graciously” consented to give their respective presbytery a substantial amount of their assets, and the presbyteries “graciously” consented to dismiss them to another Reformed denomination with their property.  Congregations wanting to leave but unable to pay the “gracious” property assessment (all in the name of upholding the denomination’s “gracious” Property Trust Clause) were not given such “gracious” consideration.

      • John Smith says:

        As some previous incidents have hinted at, if you want to leave the UMC with your assets the best course is to mortgage them to the hilt. Give the district the option of taking over a building with a massive mortgage with a departed congregation by exercising the trust clause or coming to a reasonable accommodation. Its amazing how fast money wins in the hierarchy.

  31. Timothy Ledermann says:

    I suspect wuiteca bit of the SBC membership loss can be attributed to people leaving for “non denominational” churches. Most of these churches are conservative Baptist in the orientation often with a charismatic influence. So, in realty, the Evangelical share ofvtge population hasn’t fdalky declined.

  32. JOSEPH STAKUN says:

    God, and organized religion in general, are being vilified and taught to be irrelevant in our public schools and almost all colleges. Man and money have become our god. We think our ticket to heaven are our good deeds, as few as they may be, and that we need nothing else. If our churches stick to the Bible, then everything becomes clear: we are sinners in need of redemption and Christ is the only way. Another modern teaching is that any god or prophet or whatever is a path to heaven, like Budha, Mohammed, and all the rest of the cults. WRONG!

  33. Sasha Kwapinski says:

    Secularists would like for all church denominations to become like the Unitarian church — politically correct, morally bankrupt, theologically irrelevant, and numerically insignificant.

  34. David Pergament says:

    Church preaching must be a balance between the FEAR of GOD and the LOVE of GOD…seems like the Spirit filled, nondenominational churches insist on the latter and neglect the former…yes, “the beginning of wisdom is the fear of God”…God is HOLY…Preach the WORD of TRUTH…a US senator preferred attending a Bible teaching country church rather then a DC Mainline one…his response was “they don’t address me a Mr Senator but rather as Mr Sinner…we’re all sinners, saved by GRACE…The Word must be taught at Church and practiced in the home, neighborhood, school, and job…to be complete, we must live a balanced life…intellectual, social, physical, and spiritual…leave the church, our spiritual life fades and we become empty, incomplete….we don’t give glory to our Creator, we glorify ourselves…so Christ died in vain for so many that abandon the church…

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