Does the Church Have a Future?
What happened to the Oldsmobile? Many advertisements of 1948 portrayed the Oldsmobile1 as the car of the future. (This link has a short and amusing video.) The advertisements included “futuramic” statements like “Bridging frontiers of the future the Oldsmobile of 1948 is the miracle car of tomorrow and it is here today.” Will the Oldsmobile be the car of the future as well as the car for 1948?
In 2004 when the future became the present the Oldsmobile was fading from its dynamic 103 year past and needed an economic resuscitation for the company which produced the miracle car of 1948. In 2004 the General Motors Chief Executive Wagoner issued this statement about the death of the Oldsmobile brand: "Obviously this is a very difficult and painful decision–but in the current environment, there was no workable solution."2
The announcement that GM was to kill the Oldsmobile brand caught many observers off guard. “Wait, this is a mistake. That's a top brand, a household word, a quality car. The question for business strategists is "what happened?" How did such a dominant leading car brand get sick and die?”3
Recently, my pastor, Dr. Brent Taylor preached a sermon series on the “Funeral of the American Church.”4 Dr. Taylor read a fictional obituary for the American church.5 Just as Chief Executive Wagoner of GM shared the painful news of ending the long manufacturing tradition of the Oldsmobile brand, my pastor was expressing the alarming news of the decline of the American church. Were these two leaders just declaring the facts? Did they share realistic viewpoints of the current condition and environment with no workable solution?
Below is a demographic chart of the recent sixty year membership record for Southern Baptist churches as provided by LifeWay Resources.6
The trend line in the chart provokes the response, “What happened? Will the churches of the largest evangelical organization in America get well? Will they survive? Is this truly the condition of the 21st century church in America? Is there a workable solution for the churches, for my church? What would you recommend?
A summary of your recommendations and possible solutions will be the next blog to be posted on May 29th.
posted by Dr. R. W. Bobby Martin
Dallas Baptist Association exists to assist our churches individually and cooperatively in fulfilling the Great Commission of making disciples of all nations.