Southern Baptist plateau? Maybe.

Roger Finke raises three problems with the trend of Southern Baptist success measured by larger churches and professional clergy.

  1. Congregational size is inversely related to converting new members, activating the existing membership, and maintaining high membership standards. Small churches are more effective in generating commitment and conformity within a movement.
  2. Formal theological training is a secularizing force and feeds the trend towards religious bureaucracy and religious doubt.
  3. A fully paid professional clergy is a financial hinderance to the survival of small churches and new church starts.For all of the above reasons, it was the upstart Methodists and Baptists that captured the US frontier, not the resource rich and highly educated Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and Congregationalists.

Long ago the Methodists surrendered to the temptation of respectability. Will the Southern Baptists follow suit? Are the Southern Baptists headed south?