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The Future of the SBCmdashState Conventions

Written by Ed Stetzer on . Posted in Ed Stetzer

4 ideas from small denominations.

A significant part of the current Southern Baptist attendance decline rests on the asking if our methods are missiologically appropriate. If we were to honestly assess our churches by state convention, we would see we have not been as successful in the pioneer or new work states as others denominations have. Part of that is cultural.

When state convention structures from the Southern states were imposed on the Northeast and other regions, we—in effect—enslaved them to ineffective strategies, burdensome structures, and out-of-context methodology.

This has not produced good results.

This is not news to anyone who works in a a new work area, and many are working to move away from those exported structures and methodologies, but that’s where most start.

When I talk with Neil Cole about the organic church movement, he says a person must “detox” from established church for a year before they are ready to lead a house church. This principle should be studied in the SBC as there is a pre-existing mentality on how state conventions should look and function.

That’s true in new work states, but perhaps we need to reconsider more than just those states. However, let’s look at state conventions (what others would call districts) and consider how they might function in areas where a denomination is weaker.

Questioning assumptions

The main questions are:

What should a state convention should look like in an area where the denomination is not strong? How should a traditional state convention structure modify itself for more effective future ministry?

These are not questions merely in the abstract. Leaders must address the actual situation at which point it becomes painful. I believe we have come to the place ...

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