change-or-die-book555Something is changing in the American church. Maybe it is the environment. Maybe it is the church itself. If it is not corrected, it could kill us.

I have been traveling and working with church leaders full-time over the last 15 years. My current account with American Airlines shows 2,155,306 lifetime miles. I’ve seen a shift in things in the last few years. The crowds I speak to are both smaller and older.

I’m not the only one noticing this. Number crunchers and statisticians have been reporting the news for some time. And it keeps getting worse. Here are some recent headlines:

  • SBC baptism, membership numbers fall.[1]
  • Southern Baptists Have Fewest Baptisms Since The 1950s And Are Losing Members.[2]
  • Southern Baptists Experiencing Accelerating Decline in Membership.[3]
  • SBC 2011 Statistical Realities—Facts Are Our Friends But These Are Not Very Friendly Facts.[4]
  • Baptisms in SBC down to lowest number in 64 years.[5]
  • From 1950-2011 Southern Baptists baptized an average of 379,711 people annually. Only twice during that time did the numbers dip more than 10 percent below that average. But in 2012 the decline was 13 percent off the average —the worst drop in 62 years.[6]

What others have reported statistically I have seen viscerally. I’ve seen it in the empty pews in churches and in the long faces of her pastors. My own personal income has seen a dramatic drop, reflecting the drop in income in the churches I serve. It is time to sound the alarm. The ship is taking on water. If we don’t change we will die.

Not that the capital-C Church will die – God’s kingdom is everlasting. And the Church is seeing unprecedented growth in many places – especially overseas. Even here in America we see churches that are exploding in growth.