In his current editorial column “Starting New Churches in Alabama,” The Alabama Baptist editor Bob Terry writes a startling piece on the current state of church planting among Alabama Baptists.  Here’s an excerpt (emphasis mine):

“Alabama Baptists regularly start about 30 new churches each year.  Unfortunately few of these are purposeful, intentional church starts.  Most of them result from church fights and church splits.  So common is the practice of starting new churches through church splits that jokes are often made about church fights being the Baptist plan for church growth. . . . Much of what we call our ‘church growth strategy’ may be of the devil rather than of God.  That good has come out of some of the messes Baptist have created through church fights and church splits only attests to the fact that God works in all things for good to those who love the Lord, just as Romans 8:28 affirms.  Still our overall history in church starts is something to confess, not something to celebrate.

If Alabama Baptists are to reach the state for Jesus Christ, then a statewide strategy of purposeful, intentional starts will be needed.  It will take a missionary spirit that is willing to invest people and resources in new ways in order to reach new people.  We do not need discord, dissensions and factions starting more churches just like the ones we already have.”