Youth minister: SBC decline doesn’t hold true in all congregations

Published 12:47 am Saturday, May 25, 2019

For twelve years, the Southern Baptist Convention has reported that their membership numbers have been decreasing and that 50 percent of young members grow out of the faith, but Andalusia First Baptist Church’s youth pastor Chad Middlebrooks does not believe that is the case in all churches.

According to the 2018 Southern Baptist Convention Statistical Summary, there were 15,005,638 total members in 2017, 192,404 more than in 2018.

“First off, that is not necessarily true,” Middlebrooks said. “There is not a decline in all churches. If you have youth that are grounded, then they are going to stay. They have to have ownership of the church.”

Middlebrooks said that FBC Andalusia makes sure that their youth are plugged in.

“Their faith has to be their own,” Middlebrooks said. “It can’t be their parents’ faith or my faith. It has to be their faith. If it is not yours, then why are you going to live for it?”

At FBC Andalusia, Middlebrooks is implementing his own system called, “Know, Own and Known.”

“I want them to know what they believe, I want them to own it and then I want them to make it known,” Middlebrooks said. “That is what we are called to do as Christians anyway. It’s nothing new, we are just trying to get the kids to see that.”

Middlebrooks has only been with FBC for one year, so he said he is still trying to implement a system.

“I hate to call it a system,” Middlebrooks said. “But that’s what it is. You have got to get people used to doing what God is calling them to do.”

Before coming to Andalusia, Middlebrooks was a youth pastor in the Wetumpka area and noticed that 94 percent of the youth remained in the faith.

“94 percent of my kids went off to college and went to find a church,” Middlebrooks said. “That is one of the things that I preach to them and let them see. Going off to college doesn’t mean that you have to take a break from your relationship from Christ. In fact, that is a time in your life where you need him the most, because you are making your most important decisions. Decisions like what are we going to do for the rest of our life? Who are we going to spend the rest of our life with? So, we definitely don’t need to walk away from the creator of the universe during that time in our life. That is why I try my hardest to help them find church homes whenever they go to Alabama, Auburn or Troy, so they can keep doing what they have been doing at home.”

The total numbers of baptisms, according to the 2018 Southern Baptist Convention Statistical Summary has declined since 2017, by 7,680.