Are Southern Baptists Declining?

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by rlvaughn, Jan 8, 2002.

  1. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn
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    The reason for this question is because of something I read at www.yellowstone.net/baptist/history.htm concerning the Southern Baptist Convention Controversy. <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Finally, the 1980s and 1990s have witnessed a new fundamentalist controversy (also often referred to as a "political" and "biblical" controversy) within the largest Baptist denomination which has altered the course of Southern Baptist history. The minority fundamentalists, now firmly in charge of the national Southern Baptist Convention, have changed the direction and nature of the Convention, resulting in the first statistical decline of the denomination in some 75 years. They have sought to re-fashion Baptist history to validate their theology and their insurgency, and as a result have caused much confusion about Baptist history among Baptist laity...(emphasis mine, rlv)<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>I wonder if anyone has insight into this? any source of statistics to prove this? The main thing I wonder is this - has the percentage rate of growth declined or has the overall number declined because of those who have withdrawn from the Convention (e.g., churches that have aligned themselves with the Alliance of Baptists or Cooperative Baptist Fellowship)?
     
  2. rsr

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    This is a bit dated -- and very polemical, though not necessarily inaccurate.

    A more recent report -- admittedly from Baptist Press -- is here:
    http://sbcbaptistpress.org/bpnews.asp?ID=10682

    I know there have been some high-profile defections from the convention -- including FBC Oklahoma City -- but I'm not in a position to say that they are wholesale yet.
    While the Alliance folks like the Rev. Joshua for the most part have left, probably most CBF churches are dually-aligned.

    But the other point is that membership sometimes doesn't mean a whole lot.
    http://sbcbaptistpress.org/bpnews.asp?ID=11385
     
  3. ChristAlone

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by rsr:
    This is a bit dated -- and very polemical, though not necessarily inaccurate.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
    The author of this Internet article starts out by saying: "Those who would research Baptist history via the Internet be warned: there is an abundance of information about Baptist history, but most of it comes from slanted perspectives which are fed from personal agendas."

    Isn't his article on the Internet? :eek: :eek:
     
  4. ChristAlone

    ChristAlone
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    Interesting statistics from http://sbcbaptistpress.org/bpnews.asp?ID=11385

    -- SBC churches totaled 15.9 million members but only 5.5 million in total attendance on any given Sunday morning. "Only 33 percent of those who are supposed to be members care enough to come," Ascol said.

    -- The typical SBC church has 233 members but an average attendance of only 70 persons for Sunday morning worship.

    -- Beyond Sunday morning, only one member in 10 takes part in further church activities.

    -- Less than one of every 10 persons who make decisions through the evangelistic efforts of Southern Baptist churches is active in the church one year later.

    Question: Doesn't this apply to ALL chuches 9including IFBs and Hyles-style churches)?
     
  5. Jonathan

    Jonathan
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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by rlvaughn:
    The reason for this question is because of something I read at www.yellowstone.net/baptist/history.htm concerning the Southern Baptist Convention Controversy. I wonder if anyone has insight into this? any source of statistics to prove this? The main thing I wonder is this - has the percentage rate of growth declined or has the overall number declined because of those who have withdrawn from the Convention (e.g., churches that have aligned themselves with the Alliance of Baptists or Cooperative Baptist Fellowship)?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Jonathan: It is likely that the author of this piece is Bruce Gourley. Gourley is a theological conservative whose political sympathies lie with those who opposed the conservative resurrgence in the SBC. Bruce is also the site owner of Baptistlife.com (the site of another Baptist centered forum board).

    Blanket statements like those in the article you reference are not really credible. There are many ways to look at decline/growth.

    Look at SBC Baptism statistics. The 1970s saw the largest number of baptisms in SBC history. The totals for the 80s were 3.6% less than the 70s. The totals for the 90s were 0.4% less than the total for the 70s. If there is a decline, at least in baptisms, it is negligle.

    What this article wants to do is show that since the inerrancy controversy hit high speed in 1979, that the SBC has been in a state of decline.

    What the article neglects to tell you is that the last significant era of growth for the SBC (comparing decade to decade) occured during the 1950s, long before this controvery became frontpage news. The "glory years" for the SBC, at least in terms of numerical growth (i.e. new members as measured by baptisms) were from 1911 to 1959. The decade ending in 1919 showed a 22.4% increase in baptisms over the previous decade. The decade ending in 1929 showed a 44.3% increase. The decade ending in 1939 showed a 9.4% increase. The decade ending in 1949 showed a 14.8% increase. The decade ending in 1959 showed a 54.2% increase. From then on, the decades either show single digit decade on decade declines (60s: -3.8, 80s: -3.6) or single digit decade on decade increases (70s: 4.3%, 90s: 3.3%).

    Taking away all of the sniping about "the controvery" one can see that that last time that the SBC really impacted the culture was in the 50s. This is the real controversy.
     
  6. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn
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    I tend to think the site is playing with numbers a little to try to make their point. Thanks, Jonathan, for the stats.
     

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