Skip to comments.Southern Baptists Experiencing Accelerating Decline in Membership
Posted on 06/14/2012 8:42:52 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
Membership in the Southern Baptist Convention dropped again over the last year, according to a new report. The largest Protestant denomination in the country now counts less than 16 million members.
This marks the fifth straight year the SBC has lost members. Primary worship attendance has also dropped by 0.65 percent to around 6.16 million.
One Southern Baptist and researcher lamented that the denomination is not only experiencing decline but an acceleration of decline.
Compared to a 0.15 percent drop from 2009 to 2010, membership fell by 0.98 percent from 2010 to 2011.
"Based on the trend of annual percent change in SBC total membership, we are catching up with the Methodists, and will match their decline rate consistently by 2018," said Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, in his blog. "This trend points to a future of more and faster decline -- and it is a 60-year trend."
The Annual Church Profile, compiled by LifeWay Christian Resources, was released Tuesday ahead of the SBC's annual meeting in New Orleans. Thousands of SBC messengers, or delegates, will be converging on June 19 to fellowship, discuss resolutions, and elect new leaders. Perhaps the most anticipated event of the two-day meeting will be the likely election of an African-American as president for the first time in SBC history.
After decades of continuous growth, the SBC, established in 1845, began to see its membership plateau around 2004 as baptisms were on a slow decline. The denomination reported a drop in membership for the first time in many years in 2007. At that time, some predicted the decline would continue.
After reporting its lowest number of baptisms in decades in 2010, the SBC saw an increase in baptisms in 2011.
According to the report, baptisms increased by 0.70 percent to 333,341.
Celebrating the higher number of baptisms, Thom S. Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay, said in a statement, "God's Word is being proclaimed and God's Spirit is continuing to move in the hearts of people, drawing them to repentance. This is something that should excite us as Christians who care about the Great Commission."
The SBC also added 37 more churches and now counts 45,764 churches. Still, the increase in churches is small compared to previous years, Rainer pointed out.
Despite a little uptick in a few areas, looking at the math, Stetzer says the trend is clear and the SBC needs to "stare reality in the face and fight for our future" rather than merely manage decline like many of the other Protestant denominations.
To a certain extent, I agree with you.
But some of the people that I have know seem to consider the church as more of a social club, and are not very deep, theologically.
Well, that’s OK. I’m no more than a dabbler, myself. But at least I am interested in doctrine.
Still, there are a lot of them out there, and smaller churches have some of the same problems, just not the resources to make it so gaudily obvious.
Still, in the end, neither you nor I can judge, but Christ.
I haven't seen ignorance on that scale in our church but we have two members who call themselves, "lay preachers" and their ignorance sometimes astounds me. They don't "preach" in our church but there are Pastors in the area that have them fill in for them occasionally.
One of the two has a license to preach. Which is a huge joke and he doesn't even realize it. I understand these "licenses" are available on line for a small fee or one could just print his own, even cheaper.
You have a valid question, but I’ve been an “official” Southern Baptist (member of SBC churches) for over 40 years, and there is a tried and true practice of NEVER purging the rolls...
Seems as soon as you do, Sunday School attendance begins to drop. Nobody can figure it out, but that’s what they say. Maybe it’s not even true, but nonetheless, any time somebody wants to “clean up” the membership list, it meets a lot of resistance.
Many times, people would rather go to a “feel good” church where sin is not preached, and God’s love is the only part of his character ever mentioned. Yes, He is a loving God, but also, He is a JUST God, and hates sin.
The SBC is a lot more conservative, and many (not all) SBC Pastors still talk about sin and the blood of Christ, and a lot of folks don’t want to hear that people will go to hell if they refuse Jesus. So, they head for a feel good church.
We call them Chreasters. They only show up for two weekends a year yet they are on the membership roll. I blame it on the new form of Baal worship which I call “Ball Worship.” Either their pro team has a game at noon or they are taking their children to tournaments to play club or “select” baseball, soccer, volleyball, basketball, cheer, drill team, etc. You cannot serve two masters.
Are you the church treasurer that you have that information handy? I'm a trustee and I don't have that kind of information nor do I want it. Our Pastor doesn't know that either because he doesn't want to know.
Dick Land to the courtesy phone. (It’s about your new push to be leftish.)
The SBC is not a monolith; it is a conglomeration. Under the big umbrella you’ve got reformers, liberals, moderates, social clubs, old-style traditional, rockin’ contemporary, megachurches, tiny churches, storefront churches.
If they’re losing numbers, there are probably many reasons.
The true sheep who belong to Christ are still functioning, wherever they are.
My guess is that it isn’t so much that churches are leaving, but that new congregations that once might have called themselves “Southern Baptist” are now declining to brand themselves.
At the same time, I’m very concerned (full disclosure: I’m Catholic) that Dick Land is trying to make the SBC align itself a little more with the Democratic Party, on issues like environmentalism, immigration, and Islamic relations.
(Don’t get me wrong, I’d still rather Dick Land’s politics than the aging hippie crap that I have to put up with from Northeastern Catholic priests, but then they’re in the northeast, where the Northern (now, “American” or “First”) Baptists aren’t even remotely Christian, let alone politically conservative.)
Next time you go to church join me in the ministry of dumb questions and ask people what they remember about the sermon or what caught their attention in reading the Bible this past week.
Now the good news is “judge not lest ye be judged.” Because you ask these dumb question, you better be prepared to respond.
Perhaps the most anticipated event of the two-day meeting will be the likely election of an African-American as president for the first time in SBC history.
This is being done for PC purposes. All Christian churches are going the PC route. Every Christian preacher should be screaming from the pulpit about what’s going on D.C.
Unlikely, Southern Baptists are very conservative.
“We cant pull off the leeches without drawing some blood, and when the people are forced back on the street with no hope for help from their precious government, then and ONLY then will the pews fill again.”
Could be because of their actions!
One example...a mother/member volunteered for nursery duty; no children showed except her 3 year old. So she took her child to the sanctuary to be with her husband and older children. When the 3 yo made a noise (not a very loud noise!), they were asked to leave. Keep in mind this was a Christian family of 5 and members of the church!
RE: Any idea if the SBC is really losing members or they are just rebranding themselves into Evangelical megachurches? The biggest megachurch in our area preaches a message so similar to the SBC, you’d swear they were one and the same. I’m guessing SW Pennsylvania yankees just don’t like being identified as southerners.
Well, here in Long Island, I know of a church that used to be named MANHASSET BAPTIST CHURCH. A few years ago ( Under the same Pastor and the same board mind you ), they renamed themselves SHELTER ROCK CHURCH.
Exactly the same Pastor, the same gospel, the same creedal statement, the same members, the same worship style, the same message.
If conditions such as this is considered “losing” Baptist members, I’m not sure if it is something to worry over.
RE: Could it be that many of those former Baptists decided to swim the Tiber to join the ORIGINAL mega church, the RC Church?
Same question can be asked as well — how man former members of the RC church have swam to the other side of the Tiber?
If a sheep goes from pasture A to pasture B but these pastures are owned by the same Master Shepherd, should we worry over the sheep?
—Because you ask these dumb question, you better be prepared to respond.—
I’m the king of “dumb” questions. I can’t tell you how many times, both in College and public school, as well as Sunday school, how often I would ask a “dumb” question and afterward people would come up to me and thank me for asking the question. I guess it’s because I have no ego about it. I’ve asked some pretty dumb questions from time to time. But usually they turn out to be not so dumb after all. ;-)
This is my fear. That Christ's work of redemption is no longer preached regularly and too many just want to hear pop music then have their ears tickled. I don't think an "altar call" is necessary each and every week but it ought to be at least once a month and the Lord's Supper should also be shared at least once a month with it's emphasis on Christ's sacrifice.
Christianity is exploding in parts of Asia and Africa. Many had never heard about Christ and He is being received openly in many areas where it was once forbidden. I sometimes wonder if God is preparing us for the final days when men of every race and culture will bow and confess Christ while many in Europe and North America who thought they knew Christ get left behind.
We have a committee that put together a treasury report because our church is trying to be more responsible with debt ... and they are not in a good place right now. Giving is down, AC went out, etc.
Anyway, in the report, they stated that only 63 families out of congregation tithe. Of course no names were given, but we know who ONE of those families is ...
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