Mark Tooley has profiled the 2008 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention for The Weekly Standard. He writes:
‘Are Southern Baptists “dwindling”? Recent headlines about the annual meeting of the 16.27 million member Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) refer to its ostensible struggles with membership decline. Having lost 40,000 members last year, America’s second biggest religious body was described as “dwindling” . . .
‘The SBC’s once surging growth has certainly flattened, and at their annual meeting, the 9,500 SBC delegates fretted about the decline in baptisms and other ill omens. . .
‘The generation of SBC pastors who fought the 1980s battles over biblical inerrancy is fading. And many younger pastors have hoped the SBC would move beyond its historic controversies. In 2006, they elected the relatively young Frank Page, a South Carolina pastor, as the SBC’s president. Page, though still conservative, ostensibly would offer a “softer” image for a new 21st century SBC. How effective Page was as the SBC’s image crafter is unclear. Earlier this year, he involved himself in an imbroglio when he endorsed an unofficial global warming statement that seemingly chastised the SBC for its official skepticism that climate change is entirely human driven. Page’s stance put him virtually at odds with public statements by the SBC’s longtime public policy spokesman, Richard Land, who heads the church’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.’
This is an interesting article, but it doesn’t say anything about what I think was the most important item to come out of this conventionâ€”the resolution on regenerate church membership. It is precisely on this point that so many churches are falling short of the great commission to make disciples, and Tooley doesn’t even mention it.
I don’t hold anything against Tooley for missing the point. I just hope Southern Baptists don’t.