I keep coming back to Dean Kelly’s Why Conservative Churches are Growing.  He said that for a church or denomination to flourish, it has to enforce the brand identity, and to keep telling the members about those core beliefs.

Which is why I was struck when I was linked to an article (from 2000) that pointed out this important point. It related to the Southern Baptist plans to focus evangelism efforts on Chicago that summer. The mainline churches (the ones Kelly was trying to help in his book) complained about the Baptist’s plans.

Members of the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago said they asked Southern Baptists to refrain from visiting Chicago because they feared proselytizing might “disrupt the pattern of peaceful interfaith relations in our community.”

Baptists believe that salvation is only possible through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The Chicago Council was not so adamant in the exclusivity of the salvation method. They were more concerned about disrupting the structures of mainline churches than creating the kind of fundamental change in people’s spiritual outlook espoused by the Chicago Baptist churches, the local Assemblies of God, the Church of the Nazarene congregations (all of whom were on board with the program).

Kelly said the problem in many small churches is that the leaders like being in charge of an unchallenging congregation. They don’t want to do the work needed to stay vibrant, to reach the lost with the Gospel. They are small, dying churches – he says – because they want to be.

Unless you want your congregation to be a small, dying congregation, you need to be out spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.