Half of Arizona is on fire, a fitting backdrop to the SBC's annual meeting in that state, which Plodder deems the "Gloom and Doom" convention.
The SBC reports the previous year's statistics just prior to its annual meeting each year, held in June. I suppose that in the past statistics gave us figure fueled Baptists extra bragging rights. Not last year. Not this year. Possibly not in the forseeable future.
Baptisms down 17k, continuing a general trend decades long. Membership down. Worship attendance down. Giving down. Lottie Moon down.
"Lack of passion" sayeth our Fearless Executive Committee Leader, Frank Page. "I told ya so" sayeth Associated Baptist Press which reminds those who follow our triumphs and travails that the Conservative Resurgence was supposed to increase everything.
Look for extra church-bashing, clergy-bashing, general fume and fuss preaching, lecturing, flogging, flaying, and cajoling in Phoenix this week, all under the guise of extra unction.
Expect a gaggle of the brethren to remind us that it takes a gazillion Baptists to generate one baptism. Anticipate finger pointing at the calvinists who don't believe that anyone is ever saved sufficiently to be baptized, at the traditionalists who are hindering the advance of the kingdom of God by (gasp!) singing old hymns instead of spiffy new dittys. See if the Baptist Identity group gets slammed for being too narrow, the egalitarians for being too broad, the sub-calvinists for doctrinal deficiencies, the megachurches for sucking the life out of thousands of smaller churches, the smaller churches for lacking vision and passion.
Naturally, expect pastors to be blamed for everything.
If you get most of your SBC news from the vast number of bloggers, you have good reason to be depressed. We've got bloggers pronouncing the death of the SBC as we know it, the fracturing of the convention, and about everything else that might get a look.
It's not an excuse but the SBC reflects the general trend among mainline denominations, just later and slower. Baptisms will likely continue to trend downward with spurts where they bump up. Per capita giving will continue to decline, with years of dollar increases when the economy improves. The numbers of churches, up this year by more than 700, will increase.
How about a little optimism here?
We have new leaders at our two chief entities, International and North American Mission Boards. We have a new XComm leader. Everyone in SBC life is being forced to look hard at things, mainly because money is short. I think the eventual outcome will be positive, but that doesn't preach as well as negative stuff.
But I have to be honest. SBCers do gloom and doom well.