The Elephant in the Christian Church
today is that we are not seeing robust disciple-making taking place. You are more likely to find evangelicals affirming that there is more than one way to get to heaven today than you were 15 or 20 years ago. Why? We’ve done great at getting them in the door, but we’ve done terrible at actually growing them up and grounding them in the faith.
This quote is from the most recent edition of Facts & Trends Magazine. Ed Stetzer reports on three important church trends: Decline, Dropouts, and Discipleship.
Recent research of our own area here on the Northshore backs up each of these as a local trend as well. Our Northshore PROBE found that there was a 14% drop in attendance in SBC Churches from 2000-2010 and a 14% drop in Baptisms, with an accompanying 19% increase in population. I think the quote above from Stetzer explains a little bit of the why. Without robust disciple-making, we cannot expect robust spiritual fruit. A recent opinion poll conducted by Turner Research of residents of St. Tammany Parish (see my previous summary of the research here) mirrors research finding from around the country.
- 69% of people asked affirmed this statement: “It doesn’t matter where you attend church, all teach and preach the way to go to heaven.” 33% of self-identified Southern Baptists polled affirmed this statement.
- 84% of people asked could not tell in their own words how a person can become a Christian. 35% of self-identified Southern Baptist polled could not.
Many churches are now rediscovering ways to push more depth from the Sunday morning stage, better ways to assimilate the crowds into small groups and discipling relationships, more organic ways to nurture spiritual formation, and stronger ways to create missional expansion in their communities and world.
What are other ways to create an environment for robust disciple-making in our churches?
More info on the opinion poll data to be released next week.