“The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion.”
Abraham Lincoln would say these words at the 1862 State of the Union address as the country found themselves gripped in a war that put brothers at odds with one another with freedom on the line. Each year since this pivotal State of the Union address, presidents have sought to inspire a nation to move forward in spite of present and past challenges.
South Carolina Baptists face a pivotal time in our history of reaching lost people with the hope of the Gospel.
Over the past 20 years, SCBC reported baptisms have declined from 17,125 to 10,616 and the population of the state has increased 1 million people. The fastest growing religious affiliation is the “nones” now at 19% who religiously affiliate with no one. Our reported student baptisms have been cut nearly in half over the last decade from 3000 to 1600. The average SC Baptist Church baptizes 4 for every 100 in worship.
There is hope!
Some churches are seeing people coming to know Christ at record levels. Barnwell First Baptist church has seen the most baptisms in the history of the 200+ year old church as they have baptized 72 people who crossed over from death to life from the soup kitchen to an assembly program at a private school. Millbrook Baptist Church began providing transportation from their local schools and has seen 46 student baptisms from every race and socio economic class which put them in the top 50 churches in the nation in this category. Willow Swamp Baptist had not seen one baptism in a few years, and last year baptized 5 people after putting a focus on the next generation! Top baptizing churches baptize 10 for every 100 they have in worship.
The top baptizing churches of our state were surveyed to see if there were any common threads. Here were the top 3 insights from the survey. The Top 10 baptizing churches by size and a full report of the survey can be found at www.scbaptist.org/baptisms .
- Personal evangelism was the number one action that has led to baptisms.
- The top action that leads to the majority of baptisms: Relationships with lost people
- 64% of Top Baptizing churches prayed for lost people by name.
So if you desire for your church to be a top baptizing church and raise the thermostat of saturating your community with the hope only found in the Gospel, you may consider doing the following.
- Pray for lost people by name and lead your church to do the same.
- Build friendships with lost people.
- Model to your children and grandchildren how to verbally share your faith.
What if every one of your leadership meetings began with asking people to celebrate who they had shared the gospel with that month? What if small groups didn’t begin until members prayed by name for someone far from God that they had become a friend with? Who are you expecting to be baptized this Sunday that you shared the Gospel with this week?
In the midst of a pandemic, death is real and we are forced into proximity with our neighbors and slow down. If the church does not seize this moment, what else will have to happen to get us moving?
Now is the time to pivot.
September 20, 2020 is baptism Sunday across the nation for Southern Baptists. Let us pray that we will see the waters of baptism stirred all over our state in record numbers and let us do the work that will be required to see that happen. Who will be freed from a life of sin that Sunday because of you?
Abraham Lincoln went on to say in his address, “Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history…The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation…In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth.”
Let’s make history.