I was challenged today in church as the pastor asked the question of his church, “How many independent Baptist churches do you know that are vibrant and growing?” I had to sit for a minute and think. I have been in over 50 independent Baptist churches over the past year and a half, and I can say that I do not know many, if any that are “vibrant and growing.” That is a sad commentary on the independent Baptist churches in our country in general. (Notice that the word “independent” is not capitalized. “Independent Baptist” is not the name of a denomination. “Independent” simply speaks to the fact that these churches have chosen not to join any associations or organizations.) We cannot lump all “independent Baptist” together, and say that it is just a problem in the “denomination”, since independent Baptist is not even a denomination.
I can tell you first hand from traveling to over 50 independent Baptist churches recently that an independent Baptist church can be as different as night and day. So let’s dismiss the initial thought that it must be something that they all are doing the same that is keeping the growth and vitality at bay. Secondly, let’s dismiss the idea that “all Christians are apathetic”, this is also not true as there are many “Christian churches among several different denominations that are growing and vibrant.
So why have many of our independent Baptist churches become stagnant and cold? That my friends is the million dollar question that only you (if you are a member of one of these churches) can answer. Stop looking to your pastor for answers, stop looking toward the music director to get you stirred up, stop waiting for the missionaries to win the world. We must take individual responsibility for this phenomenon, we must diagnose our own Spiritual condition, and we must do something about it on a personal level. When is the last time you brought someone to church with you? When is the last time you gave to the poor? When is the last time you prayed and prepared yourself before walking into the church doors? When is the last time you made a difference in someone’s life? When is the last time you gave an offering that was truly sacrificial? When is the last time you told someone about what Jesus did for you and what He can do for them? When is the last time you looked past someone’s faults and loved them for who they are, a creation of God?
In my opinion, the answer is simple, our churches have stopped growing and are cold and indifferent because we as church members have stopped growing, and we have become cold and indifferent. We MUST stop looking outward for answers and start looking inward for answers. Friends, no one will want what we have if we don’t even act like we want what we have.