by Bailey Smith

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Characteristics of a Dynamic Church (10 of 13)
Bailey Smith

It is very obvious that we have tremendous needs in our churches. On the whole, we are not experiencing church growth like we used to, and it is a serious failing. Sunday School was once the charm of the Southern Baptist Convention. It was, in J. N. Barnette's words, The Pult of the People. In one recent year, there was a net loss in SBC Sunday School enrollment of 100,000 people. Ninety percent of the prospects for your church are twenty-one years and older. It is a day where we should put a tremendous emphasis on reaching adults for Christ. For every existing church in America there are 4,000 adult prospects available to be reached.

Dr. Bill Hogue, once reported that we had gone down in baptisms three years consecutively. (Thank God the trend is being reversed.) Then he made a harsh and alarming statement. "That is the prelude to the decline of our denomination." That was sad to hear, and something you would expect a denominational rebel to say-not a denominational servant. We are going the way of other mainline denominations because of this almost perpetual decline in church growth and baptisms.

A climate for church growth is obviously a relevant subject for the situation in which Southern Baptists and others find themselves. There is a pressing need for church growth. In one recent year Southern Baptist churches had no baptisms. I was in a certain state for an evangelism conference, and they announced that out of 866 churches (most of them with a full-time pastor) in the state, 436 of them did not baptize one person!

Apparently, we have heard what we have been taught lately. We have heard criticisms of bus ministry, of evangelists, of numbers, and-sure enough-we have received the mistaken idea that we don't need numbers or a bus ministry or an emphasis on setting goals. Finally, what we have either heard by direct remark or innuendo has gotten through to us! And what is that? That we don't ...

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