in this post from july of this year, i posted some figures from a study that shows that despite the southern baptists convention’s claim of over 16 million members, less than 40% of those actually come to church.
this begs the question “what does it mean to be a member of a southern baptist church?”
the short version is, to become a member of a southern baptist church, you must have professed christ as your savior, and been baptized as a believer in christ.
so , every time a person is baptized in a baptist church, they are added to the membership roll. (in most cases… of *that* church)

nathan finn, faculty member and adjunct professor at southeast college, in addressing the issue of baptizing children makes a point i wish would be made to every christian parent and teacher in the world…(note that in the body of the post, he does ***not**say that a child cannot be baptized… but that we should exercise more discernment in what is such an important matter)

“avoid turning the gospel into moralism when teaching children.
David and Goliath is not about defeating the giants in your life.
Noah and the Ark is not (only) about obedience to God.
Jesus multiplying the loaves and fish is not about sharing.
Teach children that all of Scripture is ultimately a testimony
to Christ and his gospel. Teach them God is holy. Teach
them they are sinners by birth and by choice. Teach them
that God punishes sin, and that they deserve eternal punishment.
Teach them that Jesus Christ never sinned yet he paid the penalty
for sin. Teach them that he really died then he really came back to
life, all so that we can forever be in the presence of God.

And if they cannot grasp the gist of what I have just written
(which is simply Gospel 101), then DO NOT BAPTIZE THEM
no matter how much they say the love Jesus, and Mommy,
and puppies, and Rice Krispies, and Kool-Aid.”

and concerning adult baptisms…

“There are so many churches that baptize lots of
people but have no or minimal growth in their
membership (and sometimes loss). Now I realize
that people die, move away, go into nursing homes, etc.
I also realize that sometimes churches split and/or plant
new congregations that result in a loss of attendance
/membership. Those situations are not what I am talking about.
I am talking about baptizing multitudes of people
we never see again. We chalk this up to poor follow-up,
and no doubt that is a problem. But I think the bigger
problem is baptizing people who are not genuine believers
but who we have coaxed into praying a prayer at some point.”

and ….

“We have got to make the gospel clear when we are
evangelizing or preaching. Pastors, “decision counselors,”
youth ministers, parents, evangelists, and other Christians
have to be diligent in making sure that what people are
believing in is the finished work of Christ and not the quality
of our programs, or their hopeful escape from Hell, or relief
of their guilty conscience, or their inclusion in a safe environment,
or whatever else that may be genuinely good but
can take the place of the gospel.”

amen and amen brother finn.

-stephen

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