The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

National News

June 15, 2014

On the Southern Baptist agenda: Get the evangelizers evangelizing

BALTIMORE — From Billy Graham's roadside tent revivals to Jerry Falwell's TV ministries to Rick Warren's 20,000-member megachurch, Southern Baptists dominate the evangelical brand in America.

This is apt for the country's largest Protestant denomination, whose doctrine says nonbelievers are doomed to hell. Sharing one's story of coming to Christ and bringing others along are among the core responsibilities of a Southern Baptist.

But as the group held its annual meeting this week in Baltimore, the top agenda item was this: The evangelicals aren't evangelizing.

Baptisms have been going steadily down in the past decade for the first time since records started to be kept in the 1800s, according to the denomination's LifeWay Research. Other LifeWay research about devout Protestants generally shows other measures down as well, such as how often people look for ways to share the gospel or to create intentional relationships with nonbelievers.

The question of how to function openly as a religious person in an increasingly secular, relativistic culture is not particular to Southern Baptists. Catholic Church leaders have dubbed this the era of the "new evangelization," and the Mormon Church has expanded its online outreach.

But an evangelization crisis feels a bit different to the 16-million-strong Southern Baptist Convention.

"I always resist the word 'crisis,' but in this case, I think when your name is 'Baptist' and you're named after baptisms, yes, this is a crisis," said Ed Stetzer, a pastor and author who is president of LifeWay Research.

Thousands of Southern Baptists at the meeting approved a resolution vowing to revitalize the practice and prayed for forgiveness.

"God, please forgive us for not being obedient and sharing the good news of the Gospel with those in our community," outgoing president Fred Luter said in his address Tuesday.

Text Only
National News
  • 10 things to know for today

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:

     

    July 25, 2014

  • Arizona's prolonged lethal injection is fourth in U.S. this year

    Arizona's execution of double-murderer Joseph Wood marked the fourth time this year that a state failed to dispatch a convict efficiently, according to the Constitution Project, a bipartisan legal group.3

    July 24, 2014

  • 10 things to know for today

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:

     

    July 24, 2014

  • U.S. economy, though sluggish, may now be sturdier WASHINGTON (AP) — Out of a seemingly hollow recovery from the Great Recession, a more durable if still slow-growing U.S. economy has emerged.That conclusion, one held by a growing number of economists, might surprise many people. After all, in the fi

    July 24, 2014

  • FAA lifts ban on U.S. flights to Tel Aviv WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Aviation Administration has lifted its ban on U.S. flights in and out of Israel, which the agency had imposed out of concern for the risk of planes being hit by Hamas rockets.The decision was effective at 11:45 p.m. EDT

    July 24, 2014

  • Memorial honoring injured vets underway WASHINGTON (AP) — Army Lt. Dawn Halfaker was on patrol 10 years ago in Baqubah, Iraq, when a rocket-propelled grenade tore through her military vehicle and exploded inside.When she woke up from a coma, the West Point graduate found out her right arm

    July 24, 2014

  • Arizona high court delays planned execution

    Arizona's highest court on Wednesday temporarily halted the execution of a condemned inmate so it could consider a last-minute appeal.

    July 23, 2014

  • Obama declares Washington wildfire emergency

    Wetter, cooler weather has helped firefighters make progress in their efforts to get the largest wildfire in Washington state's history under control.

    July 23, 2014

  • 10 things to know for today

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:

     

    July 23, 2014

  • Lawmakers face long to-do list, uncertain success WASHINGTON (AP) — A gridlocked Congress failed to do the big things: overhauling the nation’s immigration system, reforming the loophole-cluttered tax code and stiffening background checks on gun buyers. Now it’s time to see whether it can just do th

    July 23, 2014

AP Video
Facebook