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The Future of the SBCmdashIs Not White

Written by Ed Stetzer on . Posted in Ed Stetzer

Southern Baptists will not both grow and remain a majority white denomination.

One of the highlights of this year’s Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting was the panel on racial reconciliation. Then-president Ronnie Floyd convened a stellar line-up of pastors and leaders—White, Black, Asian, Latino—to discuss some of the issues that seem to hinder our ability to fellowship freely and fully.

By all accounts it was both important and impacting. It needs to have been.

Simply put: the Southern Baptist Convention is not keeping pace with the increasing ethnic change in America. SBC membership will continue to decline if it is not better equipped and more open to ethnic diversity in membership and leadership, while engaging immigrant and refugee populations with the gospel.

That statement is not intended to diminish all the work that has been taking place. There are some great things happening. Ethnic church planting is a major passion for Kevin Ezell, president of the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board and he will be quick to point out that ethnic churches accounted for approximately half of the churches planted last year in the United States.

However, much of the information gathered on the racial make-up of SBC raises the question: has the denomination been keeping up with the demographic changes that immigrant groups are creating in U.S. society?

The Ethnic Reality SBC

The SBC has always possessed a high proportion of white people—and I mean REALLY high—if you go back only 50 years.

The good news is that Southern Baptists have made progress in terms of minoritiy members and congregations. In a recent year, NAMB reported a 66 percent growth in ethnic churches since 1998, which was fueled in large part by an 82.7 percent jump in African American congregations. Today ...

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