“The number of churches cooperating with the Southern Baptist Convention grew for the 19th consecutive year, reaching 47,544. That’s a 16.3 percent increase in churches since 1997.
Membership fell for the 11th consecutive year, to 15 million. Since 2006, Southern Baptist congregations have lost about 1.3 million members. Baptisms also declined, as they have for eight of the past 10 years. Congregations reported baptizing 254,122 people – 26.5 percent fewer than in 2007. The latest ratio was one baptism for every 59 church members.
‘It’s heartbreaking to be baptizing fewer people for Christ, even though Southern Baptists have nearly 2,900 more churches than we had a decade ago,’ said LifeWay President Thom S. Rainer.”
Buckle up my fellow Southern Baptists! It looks like we’re in for quite a ride as a new generation of leaders commandeers the denominational ship and steers it into unchartered waters. We caught a glimpse of this possible shake-up in leadership eight years ago at the SBC annual meeting. You may remember a most unusual motion in which “Big Papa D” (Mark Driscoll) and his Acts 29 Network were glorified. Here it is.
Why am I bringing up this messenger’s motion all these years later? Because our newly-elected president, J.D. Greear, had this response back in 2010. (see screen shot below)
How very interesting that this rapping church planter, Josh Shank, hails from Greear’s church. So this was a ‘God-ordained’ motion? That’s definitely NOT what I would have called it. Here’s what we wrote back in 2010, when our blog was still in its infancy and when we had just a few readers.
Big Papa D and the SBC (link)
Remember last year’s SBC Annual Meeting in Louisville? There was quite a commotion over Mark Driscoll, whom some fondly call “Big Papa D”.
Five motions were made related to Driscoll and his Acts 29 church planting network, either directly or indirectly. Only one of the motions (there were 31 in all) was brought before the messengers for a vote (GCR).
Here are those five motions regarding Mark Driscoll.
— that “all SBC entities should monitor” funds spent in “activities related to or cooperative efforts with Mark Driscoll and/or the Acts 29 organization” and entity heads should submit a report of expenditures to appear in the 2010 Book of Reports, submitted by Kent Cochran, a messenger from Calvary Baptist Church in Republic, Mo.
— that SBC entities avoid “inviting event speakers” who “are known for publicly exhibiting unregenerate behavior … such as cursing and sexual vulgarity, immorality, or who publicly state their support for the consumption or production of alcohol,” submitted by Ida South, a messenger from First Baptist Church in Mathiston, Miss.
— that author Mark Driscoll’s books be removed from LifeWay Christian Bookstores because of his “reputation for abusive and ungodly language and … promotions of sex toys on his church web site,” submitted by Jim Wilson, pastor, First Baptist Church in Seneca, Mo.
— that messengers encourage all SBC entities “to refrain from inviting event speakers” who engage in “cursing and sexual vulgarity, or who publicly state their support for the consumption or production of alcohol,” submitted by Larry Reagan, pastor, Adams Chapel Baptist Church in Dresden, Tenn.
— A motion by Brian LeStourgeon, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Camp Verde, Ariz., sought to have Mark Driscoll “address the concerns of his accusers” at the 2010 annual meeting.
To see how Dr. Danny Akin reacted to the criticism of Mark Driscoll, check out his blog post entitled “My Reflections on the 2009 SBC Annual Meeting” at this link:
In the comments section, Dr. Akin makes the following remark: “That was, by the way, in 2007 before I had even met Mark for the first time.” It is surprising to us at TWW that this rather new friendship has made such a big impact, both positive and negative, on the Southern Baptist Convention.
Although I have not yet read through all the motions that were made at this year’s SBC annual meeting, it appears that little criticism was leveled at Driscoll. After Dr. Akin delivered his report on Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, one messenger posed a question to him regarding Mark Driscoll.
In case you haven’t heard, something unprecedented took place in Orlando. The first ever RAP motion was made. Take a look…
Pastor / Rapper Josh received the following accolade from J.D. Greear, a member of the GCR Task Force and pastor of The Summit in Durham, North Carolina.
“OK, here it is… on Tuesday, immediately following the vote on the Great Commission Resurgence, our Summit Church planter Josh Shank, who planted “Youngstown Metro Church” a few years ago in Youngstown, OH, made this motion on the floor of the SBC in front of 11,000 messengers. Clearly, God ordained it to be the follow-up to the GCR resolutions.
This takes guts to a new level, and the 1st official “rap” on the floor of the SBC in 150 years. And a timely call to quit majoring on minors.”
There’s no question that the Southern Baptist Convention is at a crossroads. When it comes ot Mark Driscoll, it seems that Southern Baptists are often at extreme odds with one another. One the one hand, some have formed alliances with him and his Acts 29 network through church planting. Matt Chandler serves on the Board of Trustees for Acts 29 and has planted churches through this network, as has J.D. Greear.
Church planting is now the focus in the SBC (for obvious reasons), and it has been fascinating to see how much (or little) members of the GCR Task Force give to the Cooperative Program. Check out these statistics that we found at the following link:
Leader Johnny Hunt, SBC president and pastor of First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Ga. Church’s Cooperative Program (CP) giving for 2008: $432,977, or 2.48 percent of undesignated gifts/offerings of $17,450,278.
Chair Ronnie W. Floyd, senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Springdale, Ark., and The Church at Pinnacle Hills, Rogers, Ark. Churches’ combined CP giving for 2008: $324,500, or 2.2 percent of undesignated gifts/offerings of $14,719,954.
Daniel L. Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., and member of Wake Cross Roads Baptist Church, Raleigh, N.C. Church’s CP giving for 2008: $55,000, or 4.7 percent of undesignated gifts/offerings of $1,170,469.
R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and member of Highview Baptist Church, Louisville, Ky. Church’s CP giving for 2008: $226,467, or 3.47 percent of undesignated gifts/offerings of $6,529,724.
J.D. Greear, lead pastor of The Summit Church, Durham, N.C. Church’s CP giving for 2008: $55,500, or 1.77 percent of undesignated gifts/offerings of $3,139,456.
” The Summit Church has undertaken the goal of planting 1000 churches in the next 40 years. Currently, they have 12 plants around the world.”
We would imagine that those churches are being planted with the help of the Acts 29 Network, not the SBC Cooperative Program, which received little funding from Greear’s church. It will be interesting to see how all of this plays out in the years to come…
Finally, how much longer will Big Papa D be seen as a “DUDE” in the eyes of his followers?
Much has changed with Mark Driscoll since we published this post eight years ago; however, we believe Mark has left an indelible impression on his followers in the SBC. We find their brashness off-putting and not very Christ-like. However, at least some of them (such as the current SBC president) are beginning to admit openly that they are, in fact, associated with the Southern Baptist Convention.
We hope you will take the time to read Danny Akin’s reflections on the 2009 annual meeting. Interestingly, two the professors he mentioned in that post are no longer at Southeastern. Their withdrawals are shrouded in secrecy. And he was very naive regarding Mark Driscoll. Once again, your humble, discerning blog queens called Mark Driscoll to task during this same time frame.
And speaking of secrecy, some of our commenters have recently brought up the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force and the report they produced. Why is ‘CLASSIFIED’ until 2025?
Here are the members of that task force in case you would like to contact them and ask why they are being so secretive.
The GCR Task Force
Dr. Johnny Hunt
SBC President, Ex-officio member of the GCR Task Force, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Georgia
Dr. Ronnie Floyd
GCR Task Force Chairman, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Springdale & The Church at Pinnacle Hills, Arkansas
Dr. Daniel Akin
President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, NC
Executive Director, Tampa Bay Baptist Association
Senior Pastor of Keystone Community Fellowship, Chalfont, PA
Dr. David Dockery
President, Union University, Jackson, TN
Owner, DMG Development, Panama City, FL
Kathy Ferguson Litton
Women’s Communicator, Pastor’s Wife, First Baptist North Mobile, AL
Women’s Communicator, Pastor’s Wife, Bellevue Baptist Church
Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem, NC
Dr. Larry Grays
Senior Pastor, Midtown Bridge Church, Atlanta, GA
Dr. J.D. Greear
Lead Pastor, The Summit Church, Durham, NC
Associate Spanish Pastor, Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano, TX
Dr. Harry Lewis
Senior Strategist, Partnership Missions and Mobilization Group at NAMB
Dr. Albert Mohler, Jr.
President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY
Mike J. Orr
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Chipley, FL
Dr. Frank Page
VP of Evangelism, North American Mission Board
Dr. Jim Richards
Executive Director of Southern Baptists of Texas Convention
Dr. Roger Spradlin
Senior Pastor, Valley Baptist Church, Bakersfield, CA
Dr. Ted H. Traylor
Pastor, Olive Baptist Church, Pensacola, FL
Dr. Simon Tsoi
Executive Director of Chinese Baptist Fellowship of the U. S. and Canada
Dr. Robert White
Executive Director of the Georgia Baptist Convention
Dr. Kenneth Whitten
Senior Pastor, Idlewild Baptist Church, Lutz, FL
Uh oh! One of the members of this task force, Frank Page, had to step down due to a moral failing.
In addition, we are very concerned that the IMB and NAMB are not divulging financial information regarding church plants and missions spending. As noted at the top of the post, the number of Southern Baptist churches has increased 16.3 percent since 1997; however, membership and baptisms are in decline. Those who are giving to the Cooperative Program are entitled to know how their contributions are being utilized to advance the kingdom.
As this new generation of Southern Baptist leaders takes the reins of the SBC, they need to be transparent in everything they are doing in order to garner the respect and confidence of their elder Southern Baptists. May they bear in mind that secrecy breeds distrust. The SBC has been a denomination in decline (see the statistics at the top of the post). Do these newly elected leaders have what it takes to turn things around?