Evangelical church switching and competition driven by roles of evangelism, family ministry?

Church practices concerning baptism, evangelism, and family ministry and their societal implications may be driving congregational switching among evangelicals, according to Michael Clary, a conservative Reformed writer and pastor. The Substack newsletter Rod Dreher’s Diary (June 26) cites Clary in comparing the different trajectories of evangelicals as they have switched between Presbyterian and Baptist churches (there reportedly being considerable traffic between these two church traditions). He writes that Baptists (or credo-baptist and related congregations with Baptist beliefs) stress covenantal discontinuities, individual conversion, and regenerate church membership (baptism of believers), leading to a stronger emphasis on evangelism and missions. In contrast, Presbyterian and other Reformed church (or “paedo-baptist”) doctrine stresses covenantal continuities, “covenant promises to households and children, and the inclusion of children in church membership, leading to a stronger emphasis on the family, multi-generational households, and home education.” Clary proposes that the “pipeline of credo-baptist to paedo-baptist defections may be driven by embattled Baptist families who are seeking refuge in theological environments that are more culturally oriented towards catechizing children than reaching the lost. I’m not saying they don’t care about reaching the lost, but they are more concerned about their own children being Christian than anyone else, and it takes more time, intentionality, and resources to raise Christian kids” now than at a time when society was less negative about Christianity.

Source: White Plains Presbyterian Church (https://www.wppresby.org/baptism).

Clary continues that if “this theory is true, then I imagine the trend will continue. It might even grow as Baptist-minded people are realizing they have to go to great lengths to preserve a Christian legacy in their own families, and paedo-baptist churches have a lot of resources to help them,” such as support for home schools, co-ops, and Christian schools. There may be competing ministry priorities as Baptist churches allocate more resources toward evangelism as Christianity declines in the West, while paedo-baptistic churches “allocate more ministry resources to household discipleship for precisely the same reason.” Clary suspects “that baptistic families that are worried about their children will find common purpose with churches outside their own tradition, and then adjust their doctrine accordingly to soothe the resulting cognitive dissonance. These tendencies may increase as cultural hostilities towards Christianity increase. Some baptistic churches may adopt ever more desperate measures to reach unbelievers with anything they’ll respond to, leading to increasing syncretization of those churches…Paedo-baptist churches may likewise abandon all efforts to reach the lost in order to focus on keeping their own spiritual house in order.”