One of the things Baptists do when we take our own pulse is to count. We count attendance, giving, groups, and most of all, we count baptisms. Lately, like the last 7 or 8 years, baptisms in Southern Baptist life have been down. So, there’s a lot of second-guessing about why we are larger than ever as a denomination, but baptize fewer and fewer each year. Of course, explanations for the decline in baptisms cluster around lack of commitment, lack of bible preaching, and lack of other stuff. But, I think that’s the wrong approach.
Here’s what I think — maybe we’re counting the wrong things. Maybe we should be counting the people we help each week. Or the people who don’t attend church, but count those of us who do as their friends. Or the families of the kids who come to our after-school programs, or take music lessons at our church, or shoot basketball in our parking lot. Maybe we should count real life moments when we are most fully-Christlike in our dealings with others.
Okay, I know. You can’t count stuff like that because it’s too general, not specific enough, not concrete enough. Some folks said something like that to Jesus one day, and his response was, “In as much as you have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, you have done it unto me.” Maybe we should have a new category to count — the “unto me’s.” That might change our whole perspective on this business we call church. What do you think?