This past week, Pew Research released survey results that indicated the percentage of the American population made up of professing Protestants had fallen to 48 percent. This is the first time this percentage had fallen below 50 percent. It appears from their survey results that the group experiencing the most significant increase is the “nones.” This group represents 20 percent of our population and is comprised of residents who have no religious affiliation or are professing atheists. This report provides many insights, but perhaps none more stark than the reality that Protestant denominations are not embracing the Great Commission.
Let’s narrow this conversation to Southern Baptists. At the 2010 Southern Baptist Convention, a final report from the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force was presented. This report should have served as a wakeup call for all Southern Baptists because it articulated with great clarity how we have lost our evangelistic fervor. Baptisms and church memberships have been in decline for several years. One of the most salient points of concern was that baptisms in 2008 for the entire Southern Baptist Convention were 33,000 fewer than in 1950 even though the convention added more than 17,000 churches. What a sobering statistic.
There are many more studies and statistics that can verify the accuracy of the Pew Research study nationally for Protestants and the GCR Task Force report for Southern Baptists. However, I will avoid listing them to return to the main point of this blog post. Many of the cultural and political trends that are alarming followers of Christ around our country are simply the cumulative effect of decades of a diminishing commitment to sharing and living the Gospel of Jesus Christ with those who do not know Him. The glorious promise of the Gospel is that Christ transforms the lives of those who come to Him in faith seeking salvation.