Very Interesting…very interesting indeed!

Posted: September 26, 2007 in Church Leadership

I met some former classmates of mine from seminary today at Starbucks. We had a great talk about working in a church, church planting and what we had been doing up to this point. One of the guys was interested in Oak Leaf’s Family Pastor Job, which I’ll update everyone later. So we chatted and I asked questions and we had a great conversation catching up.

At one point in the conversation the told a very disturbing and revealing story about a trend in the Southern Baptist World. Maybe it’s a mega-church thing, maybe it’s arrogance, maybe it’s political pressure, but a summary of the story is as follows.

Both of these guys work for a semi-famous church in the Atlanta area. Their supervisor called a meeting of all of his direct reports and gave them their quota/mission for the month. They needed to get 100 baptisms by the end of the month or there would be no financial rewards. In addition, they needed to use the following tactic to make it happen. They were to use Ipods and other gadgets to coax people into being baptized. The goal, as it was conveyed, was to get 100 people baptized by whatever means necessary.

I had heard Michael’s stories about similar strategies from his former employers, but didn’t really think that was a prevalent practice. This afternoon’s conversation reminded me how every church model, no matter how conservative or traditional, can blur the line between appearing successful and actually being successful. I asked for the data for salvations and baptisms for Oak Leaf over the last 13 months. 25 Baptisms and 23 Salvations.

I think that stinks and we are vowing to do better, but at least we didn’t have to give anyone a $300 toy to get them to respond.

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Comments
  1. […] Anthony met a couple guys yesterday that were encouraged by their pastor to use iPods and Gameboys to get baptisms to a certain number by the end of the months.  There are lots of people that do things like this to get the numbers.  And it’s deceitful.  There are people that base their success solely off of numbers.  And it’s unhealthy.  All this to say that it’s possible to get so hung up on the numbers, that you forget the point. […]

  2. Bob says:

    I’m confused.
    Isn’t baptism something a believer does to signify his new birth in Christ? Something that every regenerated believer would do?

    How can a man who is not in control of the “new birth” of a regenerated believer in Christ control whether someone is baptized or not?

    I can understand being “unaware” of it as a new believer…but choosing to not be baptized?

    I don’t get it.

  3. Rob says:

    I have a problem with what you posted.

    1) Doesn’t the Holy Spirit control who gets saved? What happens if by God’s divine providence NOONE from that area has their name written in the Lamb’s book of Life? How can the pastor possibly change the Holy Spirit’s mind on whether someone is to be saved by offering electronic gifts to entice them to accept Christ?

    2) You stated: “I asked for the data for salvations and baptisms for Oak Leaf over the last 13 months. 25 Baptisms and 23 Salvations.

    I think that stinks and we are vowing to do better, but at least we didn’t have to give anyone a $300 toy to get them to respond.”

    Uhmm, EVEN ONE person being reborn is AMAZING. And you think it stinks? How can you go about criticizing another church’s methods to reach a certain “number”, when you yourself think the number of people supposedly saved through your church is pitiful? Why not be ecstatic that the Holy Spirit is moving, and lives are being transformed according to HIS plan, and not yours? Anyone remember how many people were saved by Noah? Jeremiah?

    To me, saying that ANY number stinks is treading on thin ice, because you are determining in your own mind that what the SOVEREIGN LORD has determined just isn’t enough.

    Here’s a better number for you: Take those 23, and disciple them thoroughty for one year, then see how many of them stick around (either at your church or any other bible-believing church). How many of those professions of faith were genuine? What’s being done to disciple them. How about statistics on how many people that were saved a year ago this month are still around?

  4. Scott Ingersoll says:

    bob

    At first I thought Anthony was troubled by the fact that a church had set a quota on baptisms, only to be find that he was only bothered that a “material” prize was being given for the numbers. The salvations and subsequent baptisms were ok, but to get a prize for it – that is really stepping over the line. I’ve got to admit, Anthony has the moral authority here.

  5. Rob says:

    I think you missed the point of my post. Actually 2 points. Let me see if I can make them clearer.

    1) Offering prizes to entice people to get baptized is a deplorable and unscriptural practice. Nowhere to we see anyone offering prizes to get people involved. In scripture, we see the Holy Spirit convicting sinners who come to repentance. Baptism follows. So, yes, in this matter, I do agree with Anthony that it’s a very bad practice. When man starts dappling in the area of monergism, he can get into trouble quickly.

    2) While I agree with what Anthony said about the baptisms, I also have a problem with the fact that he finds the # of salvations and baptisms at his own church to be too low. He said:
    ——————
    “I asked for the data for salvations and baptisms for Oak Leaf over the last 13 months. 25 Baptisms and 23 Salvations.

    I think that stinks and we are vowing to do better, but at least we didn’t have to give anyone a $300 toy to get them to respond.”
    ——————

    And I have a problem with that. Sure, we are to want to see more people saved, but to state that the # of salvations and baptisms is low is ludicrous. If we are faithful to sow the seed, GOD ALONE is the one who brings the increase. And in HIS SOVEREIGNTY He saves those whom HE CHOSE before the foundation of the world. For us to come back and say that 23 is too few is laughable. I disagree wholeheartedly with the assessment that 23 is too low. We should be shouting for joy that 23 were saved. We should be ecstatic that the Holy Spirit, the Creator of the Universe saved ANYONE.

    So while I agree with the gist of his point that offering iPods and other gifts is a terrible thing, I also have a problem with Anthony’s assessment of what the Holy Spirit is doing in his church.

  6. Scott Ingersoll says:

    Rob,

    If you were adressing me, I think it is you who missed the point of my post.

  7. Scott Ingersoll says:

    Rob,

    By the way my friend, you write a nice post.

  8. Bob says:

    I will second that…nicely stated Rob…

  9. Rob says:

    Anthony, I’d like to hear your comments on this.

    Thanks,

    Rob

  10. Scott Ingersoll says:

    Rob,

    It appears to me that the dialogue is over. See you on blogisphere.

  11. Bob says:

    Nice meeting both Scott and Rob…

    bye

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