Monday, June 09, 2008

If Image Is Everything, the Interior Is Hollow

Southern Baptists meeting for their annual convention in Indianapolis are concerned about declining baptisms and church membership, but don't seem to have a clue as to what to do about it.

Press reports state that convention church membership has stalled since reaching 16 million in 2001, but that number was always terribly inflated. Baptist churches have been notoriously bad about not keeping membership rolls up to date, and many of their churches have large numbers of "members" who have not seen the inside of their churches in many years. Many churches cannot account for half the people on their membership rolls.

Nonetheless, those leading the Southern Baptist Convention, who like other 21st century evangelicals, seem to regard their congregations as consumers, not converts, are responding to the trend by launching an "image campaign."

Unfortunately for them, the Gospel is "the power of God that leads to salvation for everyone who believes." It is not a man-made marketing plan. As long as Southern Baptists fail to understand the difference, church membership will continue to lack meaning, as will the number of converts.

That is not to say that Southern Baptists could not benefit from better public relations. However, this really looks like more of the same.

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