Southern Baptists versus United Methodists

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Ed Vasicek's picture

Deconfuse me, please.

John Dickerson, in The Great Evangelical Recession, claims people are leaving evangelcial churches in droves.

Mark Tooley (whose article is very well written) says they people are are exiting the liberal mainlines (old news), but NOT the evangelical churches, and even the Southern Baptists -- with membership decline-- are seeing a gain in ATTENDANCE (what most of us value the most).

So are evangelical churches declining in number in America or not?

Can someone enlighten me?  Someone is not presenting all the information, methinks.




"The Midrash Detective"

Bert Perry's picture

As a former United Methodist, it's worth noting that the aberrant teachings (overtly at least) about sexuality only came relatively recently--long after the hemorrhage started!  The bleeding commenced with downgrades of teaching on women in the pulpit, divorce, and creation, among other things.  

Note; regarding overt vs. covert acceptance of sexual sin, the church I grew up in was always very accepting of divorce, people they knew who were living in sin, and the like.  I never knew of anyone who was openly homosexual, but it wasn't like they took "flee from fornication" terribly seriously.  

Ed; can't help you, but if the lower "official" statistics for the SBC reflect more honest accounting for who is actually an active member, instead of being kept as a member because the numbers looked good, or because they're the grandchild of an active member, I'm glad for that.  I can note all kinds of other things that don't bode well for churches--there are a lot of them that are awfully gray, and I'm not just talking about gray flannel suits--but for the moment, I'm going to hope you're right and bask in a little bit of good news.

One other thing to note about the mainline church statistics; they may be plunging in part because the mainline churches may be doing the same thing that may be cleaning up the numbers in the SBC; counting only the people who are actually there.  To draw a picture, when I graduated from high school, I found out a lot of my classmates--kids I'd never, ever, seen in church--were "members".    Or, to draw another, the church seems to be about as full as it ever was when I visit periodically.  Maybe they're an outlier, maybe they're not counting ghosts anymore.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

G. N. Barkman's picture

when a former United Methodist joined our church many years ago, he tried to get his name removed from the membership roll of the church of his childhood, but was unsuccessful.  Someone explained to him that ministers salaries are related to the number of members on the roll, and it was very difficult to get one's name removed.  I don't know if that is a wide-spread situation, but it was true in our local area.

G. N. Barkman