In a Southern Baptist Convention that is clearly declining in membership, especially in truly regenerate membership, it seems as though efforts are being made across the board to bolster the baptism count in order to secure new members for ever-growing mega-churches.
September 8 marks the annual Baptism Sunday in the Southern Baptist Convention, an inter-church competition to see who can report the most baptisms for that day. Churches are certainly gearing up to convince more people to come that day — as well as staving off some who do need to be baptized until that day. Fun times, always.
Yet, in the Southern Baptist Convention, perhaps no other church has reported the most baptisms in a small amount of time as Steven Furtick’s Elevation Church. (Notice I said “Steven Furtick’s — because it’s his church, not God’s.) That is, until now.
Elevation is the father of spontaneous baptisms, even planting people in the audience to respond to the call in an effort to spark interest among the congregants to come forward. Furtick, the author of the Spontaneous Baptism Guide at one point reported 2,158 baptisms in just two weekends — that’s over a thousand a week. That’s a lot — and that’s absurd. Because, obviously, the “Christians” being produced at Elevation Church are not showing the fruits of salvation.
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As spontaneous baptisms have been largely something denounced by Southern Baptist leaders, especially those who lean Calvinistic or Reformed, the Baptist Press reports that Calvinist Bible teacher and pastor of McLean Bible mega-church, David Platt performed 586 baptisms in one Sunday. Nyke Gatlin, the coordinator of the spontaneous baptism session said, “We just felt the Lord kind of leading us to not only do a call for salvation, which we do regularly here but also give people the opportunity to be baptized the same day.”
As one who has always properly taught the biblical doctrine of salvation, one can only wonder why Platt would be okay with this. Of course, being caught up in a dying denomination, a church the size of McLean needs members.