SBC baptisms down amid other growth

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by gb93433, Apr 17, 2007.

  1. gb93433

    gb93433
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    http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=25408

    SBC baptisms down amid other growth
    By Russ Rankin
    Apr 17, 2007

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--While the number of Southern Baptist churches in 2006 increased by 524 and reported more than $11.3 billion in total receipts, LifeWay Christian Resources President Thom S. Rainer reported April 17 that total baptisms in the Southern Baptist Convention fell for the second consecutive year.

    According to the Annual Church Profile gathered by LifeWay, baptisms last year dropped from 371,850 to 364,826, or 1.89 percent, eclipsing 2005 as the lowest annual total since 1993. The 2005 ACP reported a 4.15 percent drop.

    "While it is certainly encouraging to see new Southern Baptist churches being birthed, our baptism totals once again show that we are not doing an effective job stepping up to the task of sharing the Gospel with a lost and dying world," Rainer said.

    "As a nation and a people we are blessed with enormous financial resources and gifts, and our churches reflect that," he added. "How blessed we would be if our churches adopted that same fire and fervor for evangelism."

    The 2006 ACP shows growth in several areas. Total membership of Southern Baptist churches increased slightly to reach 16,306,246 members. The net increase of 524 churches, more than double the net increase from 2005 -- for a total of 44,223 -- represents a 1.2 percent boost for 2006. In the 2005 ACP, there was a net increase of 234 churches.

    Primary worship attendance rose to 6,138,776, reflecting a 1.43 percentage growth. Church-type missions -- defined in the ACP as "a body of baptized believers having a distinct identity that meets regularly for worship, engages in Bible study and evangelism, and provides opportunity for stewardship and fellowship, but has not yet constituted as a church" -- was the largest percentage increase in 2006, up 2.06 percent.

    Rainer pointed out that numeric/percent changes for certain categories could not be accurately figured for the 2006 ACP, as some state conventions or associations did not ask for some items to be reported, or asked in a way that gave results that were not comparable to totals reported in the 2005 ACP.

    The impacted categories and their 2006 totals include:

    Total receipts: $11,372,608,393

    Total tithes, offerings and special gifts: $10,425,420,529

    Undesignated receipts: $8,293,404,321

    Total mission expenditures: $1,285,616,031

    Sunday School enrollment: 7,931,753

    Discipleship training enrollment: 1,503,826

    Music ministry enrollment and participation: 1,503,826

    WMU enrollment: 811,139

    Men/boys mission education enrollment: 376,379

    "Southern Baptists are a people committed to the Gospel," Rainer said. "Missions and evangelism have always been our rallying cry. Churches should view this report as a commendation, but also as a sobering reminder that there is much more that we need to be doing. Our mandate to share the Good News of Jesus Christ remains our focus, but as a convention we must renew our passion for reaching the burgeoning masses in our states, cities and neighborhoods."
     
  2. preachinjesus

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    Baptism are a poor barometer for true growth...but a barometer nonetheless. I'd be interested in seeing the SBC and other denominations create a tracking method that sees how many people move from accepting Christ through to deeper levels of maturity and service in our churches. Of course I also recommend a denominational wide audit of our membership roles...but I sort of crazy like that. :D

    We are entering a decidely post-Christian landscape which will make sharing the Gospel both easier and more complicated at the same time. I'm thankful the SBC is still strongly committed to sharing the Gospel.
     
  3. gb93433

    gb93433
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    Nickels and noses are easy to measure but spiritual maturity can usually be seen in numbers over a long period of time. It is the mature who make disciples and love people.

    It is possible that the reasons why baptisms are on a decline is that pastors are more ethical and will not rebaptize people as some have done for up to five times. The SBC did a study several years ago in an association in Texas and found out that some pastors were baptizing the same people up to five times.
     
  4. 2 Timothy2:1-4

    2 Timothy2:1-4
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    Baptism is evidence of a claim of salvation but not evidence of actual salvation.
     
  5. rlvaughn

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    Tom Ascol blogs on the topic, with a slightly different viewpoint from Thom Rainer.

    http://www.founders.org/blog/2007/04/maybe-we-are-baptizing-fewer-false.html
     
  6. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
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    A couple of other stats are interesting to me.


    Sunday School enrollment is down to 7.9 million from 8.0 million or so.

    Attendance at a church's primary worship service was up a bit, to 6.1 million.
    Before we start bragging, consider that total membership of churches in the SBC is 16 million-plus.

    Look at it two ways. Only 38 per cent of SBC church members are in a worship service on Sunday. And 62 per cent aren't.

    What kind of witness did these folks respond to? Some church took 'em in and dunked 'em What kind of salvation did they profess that produced no transformation in their lives?

    Tom Ascol's article referred to earlier is on the mark. Maybe a decline in baptisms is a good thing, especially a decline in the one's based on a false profession.
     
  7. gb93433

    gb93433
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    We do know that there are people carried on more than one membership list. People have moved away and gone to another church which may not be SBC and have never been removed from the rolls.
     
  8. ehaase

    ehaase
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    Sadly, the church (FBC Daytona Beach) of former SBC President Bobby Welch, who emphasized baptisms so much during his tenure, has declined both in baptisms and attendance. At its peak a few years ago, the church had 1,850 in Sunday School and has declined to below 1,200 in a recent week.
     
  9. Martin

    Martin
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    Bobby Welch, who pushed the Baptism campaign during his tenure as president of the Convention, makes me very uncomfortable. Maybe part of the reason for that was the fact that he spent a lot of time riding around the country in his circus bus seeking to get a certain number of people wet. To me Welch seems like a bean counter and little more, certainly not an evangelist. His whole drive was getting a certain number of people baptized in a certain period of time. Never mind the fact that the number of baptisms per year do not represent the actual number of conversions per year. In my opinion, Welch was one of the worst Presidents the Convention has ever had.

    The number of baptisms do not represent how well, or poorly, a church (or churches) are doing in the area of evangelism. High numbers of baptisms could be due to a high number of false conversions on top of actual conversions. Low numbers of baptisms could be due to a low number of false conversions on top of actual conversions.

    [​IMG]
    Bobby Welch and his circus bus.
     
    #9 Martin, May 5, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2007
  10. reformedbeliever

    reformedbeliever
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    Who paid for that bus? That is a crying shame!
     
  11. rbell

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    I wondered that as well.

    I always wondered why any we Baptists would need someone coming to us in a custom-painted bus to remind us that we should be reaching folks. I would figure we already knew that...

    Last I checked, those directives were in our "instruction manual."
     
  12. gb93433

    gb93433
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    It is impossible to do much work when you are fighting.

    The SBC is spending much of its time biting and devouring one another all in the name of Jesus to its shame.

    Gal. 5:15, "But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. "

    John 12:24, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit."
     
  13. Martin

    Martin
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    ==Sad to say, those of us who attend Southern Baptist Churches probably did. That money is suppose to be going to missions (etc) and not to buy/paint a circus bus for the SBC President. Bobby Welch was indeed the low, low point for the presidency of the SBC. Jack Graham, with his endorsement of TBN, was the low point. The current president Frank Page is much more low profile and is thankfully a step up from the days of Welch.
     
  14. gb93433

    gb93433
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    I get the impression that Frank Page is a humble man. Scripture talks a lot about what happens to humble people and what happens to proud people. I believe God is giving warnings to the SBC and if they heed them, things will work out good. If they allow sin in the camp to persist then they will get that reward too.

    I believe that for too long the SBC has been about promoting itself and its image rather than glorifying God. How many times have we hard the idea about if we get the right man things will turn around. An organization can have the right man and refuse to be led. It can also have the right people and wrong leadership. How about having the right God? If one looks at a number of the Baptist universities and seminaries, people who have given large sums of money were honored with a plaque posted on a wall with their picture and/or newspaper coverage. I see no place in scripture where that is commended. In fact the only person I see commended for giving was the lady who gave her last amount of money.
     

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