Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Southern Baptists are Viewed Favorably

Contrary to what some would have us believe (about ourselves) Southern Baptists are viewed favorably by 57% of adults according to recent research done by NAMB. Even more impressive, only 17% of respondents had an unfavorable view of Southern Baptists. Perhaps the most interesting insight from this study, is the fact that Southern Baptists had more favorable results among people who were very familiar with them. Within the “Bible-belt” (the area where Southern Baptists are numerous and known) 67% of respondents had a favorable view of Southern Baptists.

While we have always been (and probably always will be) plagued with doomsday prophets and pessimistic nay-sayers (who claim people don't like us for our stands), lately there seems to be an increase in the volume of their vociferous speech via the venue of blogs. However, it is good to know the truth.

The positive way in which SB are viewed has caused me to ponder some things. Is it possible that people admire us not just for what we stand for, but also for what we stand against? Is it possible that we are respected by many “good” people because we stand against abortion and homosexuality, while standing for inerrancy?

While some may jump at opportunities to point out all they believe to be wrong with Southern Baptists, I am proud to be a Southern Baptist. And I am excited to share this good news with all of you (I am confident that other blogs will have posts sharing their optimism about who we are as SB).

May we be more grateful for what God has given us. Perhaps we would be wise to learn a lesson from the Israelites who complained constantly and ended up wondering around for forty years. Perhaps, we would benefit more from encouragement than complaints. Just a thought.

I am well aware that Southern Baptists are not perfect and we have our problems, but so has every church I have been a part of, and yet I have nothing but positive comments to make of all the churches with whom I have been associated. God is good and He has blessed Southern Baptists and I am grateful. Are you?

For more information on NAMB’s study please visit: http://www.namb.net/site/apps/nl/content2.asp?c=9qKILUOzEpH&b=227361&ct=3201255

BR

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

Brad,

The SBC is admired and respected by those who reverence the inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word of God. As a convention, we faithfully stand for what the Bible commends and stand against what the Scripture condemns. Those who have consistently criticized the stands of our convention appear to have an aversion to the truth. Sadly, the blogosphere seems to be a safe haven for the disgruntled and the malcontent. Unfortunately, those who depend upon it for news and analysis of current happenings in our convention will no doubt have a warped sense of reality (with the exception of a few blogs – yours included). I am proud to be a member of a church that cooperates with other SBC churches that faithfully stand on God’s Word in order to fulfill the Great Commission.

Thanks and God bless!!!

In Christ,
JLG

brad reynolds said...

JLG

Thanks for your optimism and gratitude. Oh, that we would hear more.

God Bless You my brother,
BR

posttinebraelux said...

Brad,
You were not clear whether the respondants were affiliated with a religious group or not, and I think that'd make a big difference when trying to interpret reasons why we (sb's) are viewed positively. If the respondants were 'religious' people, then you're probably right - the positive perception may well be reflective of our stances both for and against different issues. If, however, the respondants were 'non-religious', then I wouldn't think they would be as much interested in what our religious stances were as whether or not we 'cared'. In my own 'neck of the woods', the other churches don't appear to be involved in any significant outreach programs, while our church is involved in a food pantry, fall festival, Christmas charity, etc. I think it is possible that the 'non-religious' community sees sb's as people who genuinely care about them.
In either case, however, it is ALWAYS a good thing that the 'community's' perception is positive insomuch as that perception is reflective of our Christlike attitudes and actions. May we never be seen as 'narrow-minded, bigoted, sexist, racist hate-mongers', but rather as honest, caring, loving, Christlike people who determinedly and lovingly stand for all that is right and against all that is wrong.

Grace and peace,

PTL

brad reynolds said...

PTL

The research was done by Zogby and apparently it was a random sampling, not necessarily religious.

May we share the love of Christ by telling others He loves them...I know many will not like us because we do stand for truth, but it is comforting to know that the majority are seeing our love for the lost and appreciate it.
BR

irreverend fox said...

Brad,

57% is a failing grade in any other system.

as you said, only 17% have an unfavorable view.

so that means the remainder basically have NO view...which is the problem in our convention my friend.

RevBubbaBear said...

Dr. Brad,

Thank you for these words of incouragement. As a SBC pastor I am happy to hear that there are folks that respects us. Maybe we are makin a difference in this ole sinful world.

Thanks again for the incouragement. You truly is a blessin

Bubba

Anonymous said...

Brad,

Why do you think we in the SBC seem to have an almost clintonian fascination with approval polls like this? When I first read the BP article about the Lifeway study, my first reaction was, "My CP dollars are going to yet another study about this?!"
Do you think it is a healthy fascination? Not that we are striving to be unpopular or to be offensive, but we are to be counter-cultural and the gospel is offensive.
I guess I just don't see how it is helpful to know either way in a sense of evaluating how faithful the SBC is being in carrying out the Great Commission.
Your thoughts?

Brad Guenther

Jonny V said...

Some Southern Baptists remind me of some Republicans - they're afraid to identify who they truly are and what they believe.

I think that, at the end of the day, if people will be true to who they are, people will be much more likely to hold anyone in a higher regard due to their solid stands on their own foundations.

The Republican's lost the mid-term elections for a myriad of reasons. One of the reasons is that some of them were afraid of their own shadow. They were afraid to stand up for what they really believed and broadcast loudly who they are and what they stand for. In essence, they let the press and libs spook them.

Some Southern Baptists have, in the last decade or so, been the same way.

"Better remove that steeple. Sure wouldn't want to offend anyone."

"Let's make our music and 'worship' more like the world. We sure don't want to bore a visitor."

"Let's take Baptist off of our name. Sure don't want to let people know we're Baptist until after they've joined and gotten active."

I'm not saying these things above are, in itself, wrong. I just think that, if we're afraid to identify ourselves as we truly are, people will find that more hypocritical in the long run and lose respect for Southern Baptists.

Just my opinion. :-)

Anonymous said...

Brother Brad,

What many people hear from the news and other outlets would make one believe that everyone feels that SB are either dying or irrelevant. According to this report, people are in favor of SB. If that is the case, why are we being painted as a convention that is dying or heading down a road of exclusion? One example is the BSCNC. Some of the arguments against defining a church in friendly cooperation was contrary to the findings of this report. The arguments consisted of emotionalism pertaining to the reporting of the news media. Many did not want this recomendation to pass because of a fear the news media would present it in a bad light. Guess what? The news media will present any vote to stand against homosexuality in a bad light. What are we supposed to do? Allow people to believe that Scripture does not condemn homosexuality?

This Zogby report places all of those that say the SBC is not in step with society as being the ones forcing society to walk in step with them.

Blessings,
Tim

volfan007 said...

brad,

i too am proud to be a southern baptist. and, we need to stand on Gods Word and preach the Gospel whether people like it, or us, or not. it is very interesting that we are viewed in such a favorable light. i personally believe that it is because we do stand against sin and stand for the bible, and we show the love of Jesus thru all of our volunteer mission work.

i am sure that a lot of the heathens and the liberals dont like us. they didnt like Jesus nor paul either...nor did they like the prophets. some of them stood pretty strong on the truth as well.

from the hills of tn,

volfan007

Cliff4JC said...

Our tithe dollars went to fund a survey by ZOGBY????????????

Now THAT angers me! Who is making a decision to let CP money go to a left wing hack like Zogby???? Have they forgotten the elections of 2004?? Zero credibility!

I hope the findings are correct through!

Joy,
Cliff

brad reynolds said...

Fox

57% is a landslide victory in elections:)

BR

We are not dealing multiple choice questions where a 90 is a good grade but with people.

brad reynolds said...

Brad

Good thought. There is the tension between wanting the world to see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven and at the same time realizing the world will not like us.

My reason for posting this was just to argue that our Biblical fidelity has not necessarily hurt us, but even if it had we should remain faithful.
BR

brad reynolds said...

jonny v

Excellent Comment
BR

brad reynolds said...

Tim and Volfan

Thanks for your words and thoughts.

PS - I am not necessarily putting you 2 in the same boat:)

God Bless you Both
BR

brad reynolds said...

Cliff

I remember the wrong predictions in '04 and was angered at how they tried to sway the elections.

They were right this year though.

BR

Cliff4JC said...

They will be right every year the liberals win. :)

1. And our Tithe money went to do a popular opinion survey.

2. By a left wing hack with zero credibility.

I don't know him...but I agree with what Brad Guenther said! I think of all the ministries that money could have gone to support and it grieves my heart. Someone should repremanded....HARD!

Joy,
Cliff

davidinflorida said...

Pastor Brad, Thanks for the welcome yesterday.
The positive view of SBs caused me to ponder some things also, as you stated, this view was a mix of all people and not just Christians.
If we are viewed as favorable , then have we lost our saltiness? Paul states in Gal 5:11 " And I brethren, if I still preach circumcision why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased."..... The cross offends the world and some in the church.....
John 15:19 Jesus states " yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you"
Im not trying to be a doomsday prophet or a pessimistic nay-sayer, but do you think that the modern day ,user friendly, program for everybody, non offensive church would be considered by the world as favorable?
There might be a relationship between the worlds view of the favorable SBs ,and the decline in our church memberships and baptisms.
Maybe we are not preaching enough of the cross, therefore we are no longer offensive..

brad reynolds said...

David,

If we were not seen as favorable many would say it is because we are "narrowing the tent" by standing against things. Now, since we are seen as favorable some wonder if it is because we are not being the light of the world.

If one sets out to find problems in the SBC he will find them. If however, one sets out to find the positive things we are doing he will find them also.

The point I was trying to get across is that we should be careful about complaining...God has never looked Favorably on such.

Having said that...I will certainly agree with you that some churches may not be holding up the standard of holiness. Which is disturbing and I will post an article on that soon.

God Bless
BR

CB Scott said...

Brad,

I think your post has merit.

I also hope the right people always hate us. God help us if they stop hating us and start loving us. Worse would be if they thought nothing of us at all.

cb

Anonymous said...

I think everyone needs to realize that our boards and organizations often put money into things that might could have been used more profitably elsewhere. However I have never been a member of a single chuech where the same thing could not have been said about that church's budget - maybe the two gentleman who wrote about this being a waste come from chruches that have budgets where not one cent is ever wasted. One of the ones that kills me - the IMB is spending probably millions of dollars to give every missionary "terrorist response" type training so they will know what to do in case they were ever kidnapped by terrorists. Every missionary is supposed ot take this training. I have talked to about 20 of my colleagues who have taken it and they say it was a tremendous waste of time and money. While I think that perhaps personnel in some of the "hot" regions of the world shoudl be given the option of taking such training if they feel it might be helpful - I do not think that requiring everyone to tqake it. spending millions of dollars doing it, and then the participants themselves come away feeling it a tremendous waste of time and money - is good stewardship of the Lord's resources either. But what can I do about it? (Hopefully some trustee will see this and investigate!!!!)

irreverend fox said...

Brad,

you are right about it winning elections!

But do you see my point? Our leadership ought to be frustrated beyond belief that 26% (or so) have no opinion about us. That is where the rubber is going to meet the road if we are going to be an “On Mission” convention. The 57% is probably 90% churched (or more). The 17% that has an unfavorable view are probably angry agnostics or atheists...it's that 25% that must consume us and I'm worried that we're satisfied with the 57% approval from people who basically agree with us to start with.

We must pray for a passion to understand and dialog with the 17% and introduce ourselves to the 26% with the goal of evangelism foremost in both.

Instead it seems many are about to break their arms patting themselves on the back over the 57%...

Sorry folks, 57% is not acceptable.

Let’s try this…They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and ENJOYING THE FAVOR OF ALL THE PEOPLE. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-46 niv

Jonny V said...

CB, you said:

"I also hope the right people always hate us."

I couldn't agree more.

I remember being in Las Vegas back in the late '80's during the Southern Baptist Convention there (of all places). A lot of people convention related went to the Sugar Ray Leonard - Tommy Hearns fight.

At ringside at Caesers Palace sat Jerry Falwell, surrounded by Evander Holyfield and other various "celebrities." As per usual, before the main eventers walk to the ring, the ringside announcer will announce celebs in attendance. He announced Falwell and the place booed loudly.

I'm sure Jerry felt right at home knowing he was doing something right, huh?

SelahV said...

Brad, I am responding ONLY to your post. I haven't read anyone else's response and won't. I'm afraid I might not like what I read. But I wanted to answer your question. Yes, I am proud to be a Southern Baptist.

I was taken to a Southern Baptist church when I was a toddler. Daddy wanted to make certain I went to church...protestant, because my mother was a Catholic. She left when I was three, and Daddy kept dropping my two elder brothers and me off at church. (Daddy never came to church till my brother was killed at the age of 21). I have numerable GOOD memories of my early experiences with FBC in Triangle Va. I learned a great deal there. Was baptized there. I grew up and met a marine stationed in Quantico, Va. and moved to Connecticut. Later God planted a church in East Hartford, Connecticut in a YMCA which later became FBC East Hartford. It's in that church my husband, daughter, son and I were saved. That wonderful little church was the turning point in my life. They preached, taught, ate, slept and breathed Jesus. They loved missions. They loved the lost. They grew and grew and mothered other churches which grew larger than themselves. Then they grew so big, that they had to move to another town nearby.

Can you believe it? A Southern Baptist church growing so big in Northern New England that they had to totally relocate? And no one disagreed...no one. And now that church is FBC of Manchester, Connecticut. From the FBC East Hartford, God called out eight people (to my knowledge) into full-time service as pastors and music ministers. One was the first deaf person who attended Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1979. We were privileged to leave that church at the same time and journey to Louisville together. It was a caravan of excited souls. Upon reporting into Seminary Village, my husband was able to answer God's call to minister by attending Boyce Bible School. The theme of our year was "We're Out To Change The World". We may not have done that, but I know we have changed part of the world. And Southern Baptists are a large part of why I am able to praise the Lord for 23 years in full-time service as a minister's wife. I consider it a privilege and honor.
I can't apologize for writing so much. I am so grateful for opportunities the So. Bapt. have given me. I've met and fell in love with so many missionaries...Bertha Smith for one.

I know things have changed immensely since I began my journey as a So. Bapt. But one thing my pastor, Dr. Charles Conley, preached over and over again is that Jesus is the same: Yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Whether Southern Baptists flip-flop, flim-flam or slip and slide...Jesus will always remain and will always be with us till the end of time. Praise His Holy Name. SelahV

Cliff4JC said...

Anonymous,

Good Word! But we cannot simply dismiss waste without sounding an alarm; whether it comes from a board or our churches. Really, my biggest problem with this is that we paid Zogby! ZOGBY??? My goodness...that is just indefensible. What's next; Al Franken speaking on Al Mohler radio????

Joy,
Cliff

Anonymous said...

Anonymous M,

You must be serving in some place like South America or South Africa where you wear a badge that identifies you as an IMB M! I happen to serve in a level 3 security region and recently participated in the training that you are referring to as "terrorist training". Other the years, I have faced several government interrogations. I thought the training was relevant and helpful. The professional men and women brought in to do the training were all believers who love the Lord and are very supportive of our organizations work. I am grateful to the trustees and leaders at the board who care enough for me and my family to offer us this valuable training.

I've heard very little negative feedback from the training in my region.

10+ Year M

posttinebraelux said...

All,
There are no lack of passages in the NT dealing with the fact that, if we are truly salt, we will be hated by many. When we look at the example of Christ, however, it was not the 'world' in general that hated him - it was primarily the religious establishment - which, granted, was more ungodly than most of the rest of the 'world'. My point, however, is that Christ reached out to the 'world', but shunned the religious establishment. The world responded to him favorably (they followed him around like puppies). Even though there is no evidence of mass conversions from either of Christ's two famous sermons, he was still favorably received by them. To bring that example forward to today, we are not the 'world's' judges - we are their servants. As long as we reach out to the world as Christ's hands and feet - be they homosexuals, prisoners, vagrants, prostitutes, etc. (you get the point), that is what they will respond favorably to. If, however, we spend our time telling them how ungodly they are (as if that were some kind of epiphany that people without God acted ungodly), they will respond unfavorably. May we do our job (constantly being ready to serve those around us) and allow God to do His job (judging the world).

grace and peace to all this Thanksgiving,

PTL

Tim Batchelor said...

Brad,

What do you think about Rick Warren inviting Barak Obama to speak at his church in a couple of weeks. There is a story about it on the Worldnetdaily.com web site.

Tim

Anonymous said...

Brad and all,

My original comment was not intended to criticize the SBC, but to question if such data is even helpful in determining if we are or are not carrying out our mission faithfully. Or if it is a healthy question for us to be asking. Does it not point to a dangerous tendency in the SBC and possibly evangelicalism as a whole to desire to be popular and accepted? That is what I wanted to hear Brad's feedback on. Sorry if it came across otherwise.

I think the SBC is far from perfect, but I also think it is by far the best thing going. I too am proud to be a part of the SBC.

Thanks Brad. I regularly read and find it helpful.

Brad Guenther

irreverend fox said...

Volf...it wasn't the pagans that hated Jesus, Paul and the prophets...

it was the religious folks!

selahV said...

JohnnyV...a grain of truth to your comments about we SBrs in regard to bending over to political correctness and even removing steeples and introducing contemporary music.

However, I find our music changes is more because as times change, so does music. At one point, some thought Allehuia by the Gaithers was too untraditional for So. Bapt. churches. And many thought Carmen heretical.

I'm fortunate to be a member of a church that runs the musical scale of traditional, gospel, contemporary and much much more. Not to override boredom....but to be all things to all people in that we might touch SOME.

Also, I agree Southern Baptists sometimes hide inside their skin. But they also crawl into the skin of others and are first on the disaster scenes to help with food, babysitting and clean-ups. Not for noteriety, because that usually goes to Red Cross and the Salvation Army. But because it is the right thing for us to do.

I"m proud to be a Christian celebrating Jesus in a Southern Baptist Church even if all the things our leadership does in the Convention causes the world to ridicule and hate us. God be praised and get ALL the glory for any good we might accomplish. SelahV

Jeffro said...

Brad,

I have run into to two specific groups of people that do not view SB's favorably. Ultraliberals (socially, politically, morally) and other Southern Baptists. I was shocked at the Baptist State Convention of NC at how those that stood on the Word of God were called "exclusive," "bullies," and "unloving."

Isn't it amazing that religious people still hate the Prophets and the Word of the Lord?

They killed all the prophets and our Lord. All in the name of being loving.

Just the rantings of an aggravated Baptist,

God Bless

Anonymous said...

My anonymous colleague,
Actually I am also security three and in fairness I have heard some positive feedback about the training. I have yet to experiences it - so I probably should withhold judgment on it. I think it is greatt hat you enjoyed that time and felt it beneficial and for people like you I think that is great. But in contrast I jsut had in my home a collegue from the most populous country I can think of who said he felt it was a waste and that the types of things the training prepared you were were not something he felt he would ever encounter in his situation. My point however is - why cannot the board say - "here is some training available" and "we will provide for your expenses for this training" if you think it helpful. Much like they leave the evacuation decision up to the individual depending upon how they perceive their individual situation. I would guess that 1. the training would be much better received that way and 2. the board would also probably save several hundred thousand dollars. And even in a security 3 setting there can be different perceptions aobut secutiry. A good portion in my country run around paranoid about security so much that I think they lose a great deal of their effectiveness while the others of us jsut sort of chuckle and continue to boldly share. I share constantly with people that I could get in trouble for sharing with and yet a government official (that I was sharing the good news with the other day - even though legally I was prohibited from doing so) - told me not to worry about - because he would watch out for me - and I told him that was all right because actual HE was already watching out for me. Most of the IMB personnel killed in the past few years wwre killed suddenly and without warning - not sure all the training in the world would have prevented it. And while I am at the back of the line when it comes to wanting martyrdom - sometimes that has been the tool by which God has accomplished His purposes.

brad reynolds said...

Brad

Thanks.
BR

brad reynolds said...

Fox

Good words, but let us be careful to not compare the Bride of Christ with the Jewish Pharisees. I always try to be careful of speaking of His bride, because I know it would bother me if someone spoke of my bride, even if there was some truth in the comments.
God Bless,
BR

brad reynolds said...

Tim

I haven’t made it too the websight yet. I’ll try today. Thanks for the heads up.
BR

brad reynolds said...

Selah,
As always your words reveal your wisdom.
God Bless,
BR

Anonymous said...

Brad: Just a couple of things. First why is it so important how others outside of the SBC think of us? We should be concerned how God views us. How would He rate us. Secondly You say that some churches to uphold holiness. I hear this a lot and I do think all of the Bible should be preached including what God expects of us as far as holiness, it's part of sanctification to hear these things but I also believe in the power of the Holy Spirit who changes a life so radically(new creation) that one wants to be holy. One wants to live for God. IOW I trust that God brings us to holiness in his time and his way. True born again Christan's can't help but think and live this way, it's who they are. It may just not be in the way that some one else views holiness or in someone else's time limit or according to someone else's long list of what holiness is, but desiring holiness is inevitable. Remember the Bible says that man looks on the outer appearance. God looks on the heart. He works from the inside out, not the outside in.

peter lumpkins said...

Dr. Reynolds,

What a refreshing post. So much of the time, especially in the blog world, the perception is "what's wrong about us" and not about what, by God's providence and grace, may very well be right.

For me, though SBs are not a perfect people of God by anyone's perception, surely we are a true people of God nevertheless.

Grace this weekend. With that, I am...

Peter

davidinflorida said...

The religious are part of "the world"....just as the pagans and heathens.
Acording to Barna and/or Billy Graham, about 40% of the people in the pews on Sunday are part of this group.

brad reynolds said...

Debbie,

Excellent words. God is all that matters, I would that those who continue to claim that people have a negative view of SB (because they think we are narrowing the tent) would realize this. Thus, the purpose of my post: I was weary of hearing a few continually complain about the SBC and how poorly people view us, when in reality they do not view us poorly.

Further, I do think that part of having a positive testimony with God is loving our neighbor.

Concerning holiness, it is the work of the Holy Spirit, but the Corinthians needed some encouragement through rebuke and repentance…I think we all need such encouragement from time to time.

God Bless
BR

brad reynolds said...

Peter

Thanks
BR

Anonymous said...

Brad: I'm sorry that you view is as "downing the Southern Baptists" I view it as constructive criticism of things that are definitely wrong and need to be brought out in the open. They are things that most which includes the general public had no idea of beings it was done behind closed doors.

brad reynolds said...

Debbie

I sincerely appreciate your concern for the SBC. Oh, that more would be involved.

I know of no organization that does not have its problems, and I am certain we have ours.

However, having been to every convention since '88, and personally knowing some of the men involved in the resurgence, I assure you that much of what is being said, is simply not true.

Constructive criticism is necessary, unvalidated criticism is gossip. One is healthy, the other harmful.

I have asked many of those who are criticizing the "leadership" for evidence...their response is either silence or reassuring us they have the evidence which they never produce (which begs the question).

May you have a great Lord's Day, and may I say your pastor is blessed to have a sheep as you. Would that more would love their pastor as you do yours. God will bless you.
BR

Anonymous said...

Thank you Brad. I appreciate that. :)