Over history the world has seen the decline of several major religious groups. The British during Charles Spurgeon’s time were a growing movement and religious group that saw a quarter of a million Baptist. But then they stopped growing and declined. What happened so that this movement of God stopped growing. As one professor of preaching stated, “they changed the message instead of changing the method.”

In Australia after seeing rapid growth the English Sabbatarian Baptist  in the 1700 and 1800 hundreds came to a sudden decline in the 19th century. Their “demise which began in the eighteenth century to: a lack of organised fellowship, reliance upon endowment, reliance on first day ministers, persecution and discrimination.[1] Ball maintains that the disintegration which set in at the beginning of the eighteenth century and was complete by it close was the consequence of several of contributing factors: 1. The Seventh-day Sabbath stands on the unquestioned authority of the Scriptures, a concept which suffered under the destabilizing effects of “rationalism, deism, empiricism and the Enlightenment.” 2. A lack of foresight for the training of the ministry which resulted in the demise of those congregations which lacked suitable leadership. 3. Lack of investment in church buildings. (meeting houses and/or  parsonages.) 4. Failure to organise a denominational or inter-congregational structure. 5. The ill effects of a reputation for extremism and fanaticism.[2] 6. Joint pastorates with First-day Baptist churches deprived Seventh-day Churches of a ministry dedicated to Sabbatarian distinctives. 7. A failure to promulgate the doctrine of the Sabbath. 8. A failure to instruct and cater for the young members and children. 9. Internal strife, dissention and bickering among members. 10. Civil and ecclesiastical opposition and persecution resulting in the relocation of Sabbatarians in the Continent and the New World. (3)

1. Sanford, Don A. A Choosing People: The History of the Seventh Day Baptists. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press, 1992. 

2. Ball, Seventh Day Men, 97.

3. (Ball, Les. Queensland Baptists in the Nineteenth Century: The Historical Development of a Denominational Identity. PhD Thesis: University of Queensland, 1994.)

4. Read further at http://www.seventh-day-baptist.org.au/library/books/ASdbHistory.htm#_ftn38

Some of the ingredients that led to the demise were a lack  of organized structure, lack of educational training in this case theological for ministry and just plain old fashion fighting among the  denomination.

In the United States of America there  is a decline of the Southern Baptist Conventions membership. There are fewer visitors attending Sunday morning services across the continent. They are seeing fewer conversions/salvations and baptisms in churches and declining memberships. One story reported that Missouri Southern Baptists are worried about the decline.

“Declining membership, though, is one of the central topics of discussion, one that many Columbia pastors think is necessary for the denomination. Brian Evans, pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Columbia, said the decline in church membership is keeping staff awake at night. He admits he’s not quite sure how to solve the problem.

In 1988, Calvary had 600 members at its Sunday services. Now that number is 150. A 40 percent drop in its budget over the last 10 years illustrates how precarious the situation is for the congregation.

And if things don’t change, Evans said it might be necessary to shutter the church in the next 20 years — or even sooner. An older membership dominates most mainline denominations, including Methodist, Presbyterian and Lutheran churches. The generation gap is partly to blame for the downturn in membership. It’s the result of three things, Evans said: Young people don’t like the concept of authority and find it hard to accept; people prefer sports or recreation to attending church; and the traditional church is reluctant to “change its practices that were forged by previous generations.” (http://www.columbiamissourian.com/stories/2009/06/25/columbia-baptist-ministers-weigh-denominations-decline/)

The problem is obvious but  is the problem?  The problem is a lack of evangelism. Before coming to faith and Christ the writer had a problem with authority, since coming to Christ, salvation and a new character has changed  that issue. The traditional church not wanting to change is simply put it is “disobedience.” Jesus has called us to be His witnesses to the world not to people who like us. The problem is a lack of evangelism, personal and church.  We must reach out communities with the gospel regardless of what people look like or how they smell.

One Director of Missions said it well, he said after considering the problem with the churches in his association not growing and there being over 200,000 residents in their county. He said “the churches are not reaching even one percent of the population.” He concluded after talking to the pastors that they were not doing evangelism was due to the fact the they did not know how to do evangelism.

When we get saved we get God the Father the evangelist, God the Son the evangelist and God the Holy Spirit the evangelist. As one professor of New Testament Greek and New Testament Theology said, “Salvation is from the Father, through the Son and with the Holy Spirit.”

Evangelism is all about OBEDIENCE. Matthew 28:19-20 is called the “Great Commission”, not the Great Option. Not to be evangelistic, not to witness, not to share Christ is to be disobedient to Jesus our Lord and Savior.

What  Christianity needs is some old fashion repentance and brokenness before God our Father. Revival will not happen unless this happens first.

Lord Jesus I am sorry for putting me first, for allowing the issues of this temporal life cause me to live defeated life when I have been given a winner’s life. Help me to live the victorious life You intended me to live through Jesus Christ because of my salvation. In Jesus NAME!

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