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Rick Warren Argues That Infighting, ‘Contempt Toward Women’ Are To Blame for SBC’s Decline

Rick Warren
Screengrab via Vimeo @Saddleback Productions

Rick Warren, who recently explained why Saddleback Church is challenging its recent removal from the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), posted a video about “The SBC at the Crossroads.” In the first of what he says will be several videos, Saddleback’s founder and former lead pastor addressed the denomination’s continuing decline and the reasons behind it. Warren also referenced his deep Southern Baptist roots and his love for its people.

The pastor said revitalization begins with personal renewal and “falling in love with Jesus all over again.” Instead of “arguing and debating and getting distracted by secondary issues,” Warren said, Southern Baptists must care about what God cares about: “He wants his lost children found.”

Rick Warren on the SBC’s ‘Devastating, Historic Loss’

In the 38-minute video posted on May 25, Warren expressed sadness and grief about the recent news that the SBC decreased by almost half a million members in one year. “That is a devastating, historic loss,” he said, “and nobody’s talking about it. It’s the largest single decline in the past 100 years of Southern Baptist history…and should be the number-one topic of discussion at the New Orleans convention,” he said, referencing the denomination’s upcoming Annual Meeting (June 11-12).

If that rate of loss continues, Warren warned, “there will be no Southern Baptists left in just 27 years.” Because of the rapid decline, he added, the SBC is the same size as it was in 1979, when infighting made national headlines. “Today we’re losing more churches than we start, and over 10,000 churches in our convention baptized no one last year,” Warren said, adding that the rate of church planting also has declined.

Ignoring or minimizing the decline won’t work, Warren said. The loss of SBC members and resources isn’t a temporary blip, anomaly, or glitch, he added, but reason for concern—and the reason he decided to post videos.

Pastors Are Asking, ‘What Happened to My Denomination?’

During the pandemic, as Warren tried to persuade discouraged pastors from resigning, he said he heard a familiar theme: “What in the world has happened to my denomination? It used to be fun to go to convention; now it’s angry factions led by prideful leaders fighting each other. What’s the fun in that? What is causing all this decline?”