We like numbers. We talk, preach, eat, drink, and sleep those numbers. Ask any church leader how things are going at the church and the first thing cited will be numbers: worship attendance; educational attendance; baptisms; giving.
If it can be measured, we Baptists have that statistic --- or a committee appointed to investigate it.
It's what we can't measure that seems to be giving us problems.
Just like the recent Willow Creek "Confession" that suggest more numbers doesn't mean more disciples, I submit that we Baptists need to make the same confession.
After World War II, we Baptists believed we had found the sweet spot of evangelism, discipleship and missions. We were growing. In every category of measurement, we were growing. And we revelled in it.
Then came the shocking realization that it was all a numbers game: we were growing not because of our efforts but instead the Baby Boomers had no choice except to go to church with their parents. In other words, the young couples in our churches were having that 2.3 children (on average) and our numbers were growing.
By the time those children finished college, the shallow spiritual roots we shaped had no depth. Most of that generation stopped attending, and then their children now have no concept of church at all. What happens with the third generation?
All that leads me to a discussion topic from Art Rogers blog that says we Baptists are not doing too well. In fact, most of Christianity is not doing too well. What we've been doing in the past has actually caused =negative= responses among the non-churched. The primary positive response of our efforts have been among those already Christian.
If we're just stealing sheep from other denominations, are we really making disciples?