EDITORIAL: Is this as good as it gets?
A recent study indicated that for the last five years, baptisms among Southern Baptist churches have not reached 400,000. There are 43,000 Southern Baptist churches with nearly 16 million members, and the best we can do is to reach less than half a million people for Jesus? Is this as good as it gets?
How many Baptists does it take to bring someone to baptism? According to the statistics, it takes 40. That is a membership-to-baptism ratio of 40-to-1! While we should be proud to be the largest evangelical missions sending organization in the world, we should be ashamed that it takes 40 of us to see one lost person come to know Jesus and be baptized. Is it possible that only 2.5 percent of Baptists are being obedient to the Great Commission? Are we succeeding at making disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit? Let’s be honest, we’re not.
When was the last time you prayed for a lost person? When was the last time you presented the Gospel? Is there any wonder why we aren’t seeing people saved? Our responsibility is not to convince or compel people to Christ, but rather to tell them of His saving power. It is God’s job to convict and to call. Our role is to simply tell His story, not sell it.
God help us if we don’t get on our knees and start asking Him to bring salvation to our lost neighbors, friends and family. This is the critical and essential starting point for reaching the lost. Once we have mastered praying for the lost, we are free to consider how God would use us to reach them.
The study examined churches with a membership-to-baptism ratio of no more than 20-to-1, and with at least 26 people baptized per year. Should it be a surprise that according to the study, these churches were consistently described as exciting, dynamic, energetic, upbeat, friendly, welcoming, warm and positive?
Pastors from these churches saw evangelism as important, and members were highly motivated to invite others to church. The churches recognized the worship service as a key to reaching people. In addition, the study found that the Gospel was presented in most, if not all, of the pastor’s sermons. More than two-thirds offered a public invitation. All but four of the churches studied were committed to a regular, organized visitation program, and church calendars were focused on events designed, at least in part, to reach people for Christ.
Is this rocket science for churches? Hardly. Is there a Southern Baptist church in Oklahoma that can’t meet these criteria? Certainly not. It begins with a heart for the lost and a willingness to share the Good News. If God chose to use every Oklahoma Baptist to win someone to Jesus this year, we would see more than 700,000 come to know Christ in Oklahoma alone! Imagine what would happen if God used every Southern Baptist to reach someone for Jesus. Now those numbers would be worth talking about.