Read: A resolution condemning white supremacy causes chaos at the Southern Baptist Convention. This week, the group gathers in Birmingham, Alabama, exactly 40 years since the Southern Baptist Convention as we know it came into existence.
Just like many individuals of a similar age, the denomination is experiencing a bit of a midlife crisis, defined by a lack of purpose and deep internal conflict. The SBC is contracting in both membership and church attendance. It has shed a stunning 1 million members since , and is on pace to lose nearly , people each year for the foreseeable future.
Tales of Midlife Ministry
Annual baptisms, which are of obvious importance to Baptists, have plummeted to a year low. Additionally, the denomination is failing to either attract new young people or retain the ones it has. Only half of children raised Southern Baptist choose to remain Southern Baptist. There is no easy explanation for this decline. So what gives? Underneath the numeric slippage lies a more substantive problem: cultural irrelevance.
In , the wildly popular daytime-TV host Phil Donahue devoted an entire show to the denomination. Now only a handful of religion journalists are paying close attention. The world has moved on. Conservative leaders who clutched control of the group decades ago were nearly unified in their convictions and hyper-focused on their chosen mission.
Today the group is fractured and endlessly consumed by infighting. Jonathan Merritt: Southern Baptists call off the culture war. In the past, the election of a Republican president would have unified a conservative group such as the SBC, infusing it with fresh energy.
Some prominent Southern Baptist pastors—including Robert Jeffress and Jack Graham —vocally supported Trump for his conservative positions on issues such as abortion and his promise to appoint conservative judges. Nothing said here will come as a surprise to most Southern Baptist leaders, particularly younger ones.
They see their crisis as clearly as outsiders do. Perhaps his election was a cosmetic solution to an existential problem, a change akin to a middle-aged friend purchasing a cherry-red sports car. The hum of the Corvette engine is exciting at first, but in a blink, you realize that the same person with the same problems is behind the wheel. They must do some deep self-examination and get their house in order.
This week in Birmingham, Southern Baptists have an opportunity to do just that. The emerging sexual-abuse crisis in the denomination should undoubtedly be the first priority. An investigation released by the Houston Chronicle in February revealed decades of sexual abuse and a pattern of repeat offenders stretching back decades and affecting hundreds of victims. New revelations continue to emerge, and Southern Baptists should expect this story to get worse, not better, for them. Though Greear has made several proposals for seriously addressing the matter, denominational leaders are split.
Some claim that Southern Baptist churches are autonomous and that the denomination has no place interfering in the matter. Others believe that sexual abuse demands a serious response, including restitution for victims. May I borrow the words of an Anglican vicar, Bob Mayo: "I don't write from the point of view of authority but authenticity. Few among us will cry out for help or admit this crisis. Believe me, many are in this difficult chapter of life.
Older pastors also tend to be in denial and judgmental.
Midlife crisis - Wikipedia
Where do we go? I pray to my fellow minister, let us take this stage seriously. In my case, it came early My readings revealed that this lasts at least ten years. This is our last chance to bow to God before we grow to be wicked old men in ministry. Professor Victolero, we call him "Kuya Eseng," of the Navigators ministry, helped me a lot. No long lectures men in midlife hate that…wives, take note , but a non judgmental hand that reminded me to bow down to God. My wife, Sheryl Lynn, absorbed all my midlife tantrums; stuck it out with me; took time to read about the issue and decided to put up with me while I was in the most unlovable stage of my life.
I must not forget the congregation of Davao Chinese Baptist Church, to whom I honestly admitted my "midlife crisis. A wife, a fellow minister, and, a gracious church are proven ministers of grace to help the pastor not fall or to recover from falling.
The female midlife crisis – and how to survive it
My "midlife crisis" is not over yet, though it is now quite a distance from where it started. Midlife brokenness is a blessing, I believe a non negotiable requirement for a minister to finish his journey. A Minister's midlife is difficult, yet humbling…making our vulnerability obvious that we may bow down to Him who called us. I am praying that God will use this article to help men in midlife… especially ministers. Thanks for reading. SunStar website welcomes friendly debate, but comments posted on this site do not necessarily reflect the views of the SunStar management and its affiliates.
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