INTERNAL CHURCH PLANTING & As Autonomous Church Plants Grow, Southern Baptists Disappear #ChristianityToday

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “I’ve been saying it for years. Planting independent and autonomous church plants creates competitive environments and a neophyte ministry with customarily poor oversight.

Instead I have argued for equally planting ‘internal sub-congregations’ such as venues, campuses and different styles of worship. This usually creates a healthier organization because among many things, they share assets and there is better oversight of the ministers. As a former church planter myself, who helped coordinate a megachurch’s network of planted churches, I believe this understanding is critical.

It is also important to distinguish two types of church plants.

I have suggested (The Healthy Church, 2014) that an independent plant is ‘external’ to the parent congregation and thus should be called an ‘external plant.’

A venue, campus or another worship service would remain organizationally ‘internal to the church’ and thus is best described as an ‘internal church plant.’ George Hunter of Asbury Seminary has described this saying, ‘every church is a congregation of congregations’ (A House Divided, 2001).

Therefore, understanding how to multiply ‘internal congregations’ as well as ‘external congregations’ is critical for turning around the decline that we see in even organizations like the Southern Baptist Church.Because I speak at many Southern Baptist events I know that their emphasis on church planting dwarfs their emphasis upon church revitalization. If they (and we) don’t start planting ‘equally both internally and externally’ we may be only creating a competitive environment of poorly trained church leaders who are exchanging Christians between our congregations.

Read this article to understand why I am alarmed.

As Church Plants Grow, Southern Baptists Disappear

Nation’s largest Protestant group lost 200,000 members last year, biggest decline since 1881.

Bob Smietana

As Church Plants Grow, Southern Baptists Disappear

Courtesy of Baptist Press

There are now more Southern Baptist churches than ever before: 46,449 as of last year.

And more than 200,000 extra spaces in the pews.

As the nation’s largest Protestant group prepares to meet in Columbus next week, it reported its largest annual decline in more than 130 years—a loss of 236,467 members.

With just under 15.5 million members, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) remains the largest Protestant group in the United States. But it has lost about 800,000 members since 2003, when membership peaked at about 16.3 million.

This past year, however, the number of SBC churches grew by 1 percent to 46,449. That’s in part due to church planting efforts, aimed at starting new churches. Southern Baptists started 985 new churches in 2014, up 5 percent from the previous year.

Still, challenges remain.

A new major survey from the Pew Research Center shows a similar decline for the SBC. In 2007, Pew found that about 6.7 percent of Americans claimed to be Southern Baptists. In 2014, 5.3 percent of Americans were Southern Baptists.

Pew also found that Southern Baptists are aging, with the median age rising from 49 in 2007 to 54 in 2014. That makes them older than Nazarenes, “nones,” and nondenominational Christians, but younger than Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and Methodists.

Read more at … http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2015/june/southern-baptist-decline-baptism-church-plant-sbc.html

DIVERSITY & Southern Baptists try to diversify churches – but will it work? #ReMIX

by Heidi Hall | February 23, 2015.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (RNS) How tough is it to create a racially diverse denomination? Consider a recent luncheon organized by the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.

About 100 Nashville-area evangelical leaders accepted invitations to a lunch hosted by the denomination’s policy arm, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. On the agenda: a pitch for a spring summit and a short discussion by ERLC President Russell Moore about the need for churches to become more racially diverse.

The number of African-Americans who showed up for the lunch? Four (two of them denomination employees)…

Black church leaders are greeting news of the summit with reactions ranging from polite skepticism to hopeful support.

It can’t come soon enough for Erskin Anavitarte, a Southern Baptist pastor-turned-musician who attended this month’s luncheon. Anavitarte, who is African-American, said he finds resistance when even suggesting white privilege exists.

“People who talk about Ferguson (Mo.) and say that justice was served — most of them don’t even have a grid to make those statements they’re making,” he said. “They don’t even have friends who are African-American.”

The Southern Baptist denomination was birthed in 1845 when it insisted its members had the right to own slaves. The denomination didn’t formally apologize for its stand on slavery until 1995. Four years ago, the SBC considered a name change to move past that split and increase opportunities for expansion outside the South.

Moore, a Mississippi native, opposed the rebranding. Earlier sin needs to be kept out front, he said, lest members forget it. One of his earliest Sunday school memories convinced him of that.

“We had a substitute teacher, and I put a quarter in my mouth,” he said. “She said, ‘Don’t put a quarter in your mouth, because a colored person might have touched that.”’

Moore said the teacher probably never examined her own belief system around race.

But his proposed solution to that — diversifying worship spaces — will take some work. Of 50,500 Southern Baptist congregations, 3,502 identify as predominantly African-American, or about 7 percent, a 2013 denominational report shows…

Read more at … http://www.religionnews.com/2015/02/23/southern-baptists-try-diversify-churches-will-work/