The nation’s largest protestant denomination will definitely remain “Baptist,” but leaders are thinking about whether it will be “Southern” for much longer.I think the largest church in the denomination is Saddleback Church, which uses neither "Southern" nor "Baptist" in its name. Several other SBC churches in the area have dropped the Baptist connection and have gone to some generic non-threatening name.
Southern Baptist Convention President Bryant Wright was expected to present the recommendation of a task force assigned to study a name change to the denomination’s executive committee at a meeting Monday night. Any name change would have to be approved at the SBC’s annual conventions the next two years.
Wright has said he is concerned the name is too regional and hinders efforts to plant new churches outside of the South. Others outside of church leadership say the name has become a liability because it is too often associated with divisive, partisan politics.
Either way, a recent survey conducted by the SBC’s own Lifeway Research firm gives weight to the idea that the name does drive away some potential members.
Of the 2,000 Americans surveyed, 40 percent of respondents had an unfavorable view of the denomination and 44 percent of respondents said that knowing a church was Southern Baptist would negatively impact their decision to visit or join the church.
Although 53 percent of respondents overall had a favorable view of the Southern Baptists, the high negatives are a concern for a denomination in which spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a fundamental to their faith.
Unfortunately, some have also gone to a generic non-threatening theology.