SBC loses members again in 2009
    February 16 2010 by ABP Staff

    NEW YORK (ABP) -- Catholic, Mormon and Assembly of God churches all posted membership gains in 2009, while mainline denominations and the Southern Baptist Convention lost members, according to an annual report by the National Council of Churches. The SBC -- the nation's second-largest faith group -- saw its membership decline for the second consecutive year.

    The NCC's 2010 Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches
    reported membership of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States -- the largest of 227 national church bodies included in the report -- at 68 million. That represents growth of 1.49 percent, after a slight membership loss in 2009.

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (No. 4) grew 1.71 percent to 5,873,408 members. The Assemblies of God grew 1.27 percent to 2,863,265 members, passing the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to become America's ninth-largest religious body.

    This year's edition of the yearbook, the 78th, reports information collected by churches in 2008 and reported to the National Council of Churches in 2009. Some faith groups, such as several historically African-American Baptist denominations, report their membership estimates based on population formulas instead of actual headcounts.

    American Baptist Churches posted one of the largest losses, 2 percent, dropping its membership to 1,331,127.

    Membership in the SBC, the second-largest denomination behind Catholics, dropped 0.24 percent to 16,228,438 members. That follows a similar loss of 0.24 percent
    reported in the yearbook last year.

    Eileen Lindner, editor of the annual yearbook since 1998, said some observers attributed decline in church membership to increasing secularization of American society but pointed out that some groups -- especially of the Pentecostal variety -- continue to report gains.

    Another factor, she said, is that large percentages of immigrants into the United States in the
    last 40 years are Christians. Lindner said statistics in the yearbook reflect "continued high overall church participation, and account for the religious affiliation of over 163 million Americans."

    The 10 largest church groups reported in the 2010 yearbook are:

    1. The Catholic Church, 68,115,001 members, up 1.49 percent.
    2. Southern Baptist Convention, 16,228,438 members, down 0.24 percent.
    3. The United Methodist Church, 7,853,987 members, down 0.98 percent.
    4. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 5,974,041 members, up 1.71 percent.
    5. The Church of God in Christ, 5,499,875 members, no membership updates reported.
    6. National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc, 5 million members, no membership updates reported.
    7. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 4,633,887 members, down 1.62 percent.
    8. National Baptist Convention of America, Inc., 3.5 million members, no membership updates reported.
    9. Assemblies of God (ranked 10 last year), 2,899,702 members, up 1.27 percent.
    10. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (ranked 9 last year), 2,844,952 members, down 3.28 percent.


    2/16/2010 12:50:00 PM by ABP Staff | with 5 comments

Gene Scarborough
Numbers - numbers -numbers: Is this all it is about???

I think we are guilty of several things in recent years:

(1) Stupid statements in the press which make anyone wonder if we have a brain.
(2) Far too much ego among leaders from President to Boards and Agencies.
(3) Scandal after scandal over waste of money and neglect of missionary support in the field.
(4) Becoming so creedal we don't care about much more than silly words.
(5) Mega church mindedness assuming "bigger is better."
(6) Local churches losing trust and sending less money--many are sending their own mission teams these days--the long term effectiveness for the local people groups is questionable.
(7) At every level from Association to State Convention to SBC--a loss of trust & fellowship.
(8) Seminaries promoting the King Pastor concept--local church members leaving rather than be told exactly what to do.
(9) Failing zest to invite people to a loving church of local believers.
(10) Failure to deal with the issue of molestation by clergy--Catholics suffer from the same, but their automatic baptizing of newborns covers the loss of adults--as does roll cleaning by Baptist churches. Real participation is usually about half of the numbers reported for members.
2/18/2010 9:40:28 AM

Terry Cheek
From a pastor's perspective I have been told by individuals leaving the denomination, and no they were not from my congregation (honestly) but they were friends of mine. They viewed SBC churches as inconsistent and competitive instead of cooperative and concerned. That our doctrine has become dogmatic and has left its biblical heritage. Much like America has left its Christian heritage seeking popularity and prestige instead of following what is right and decent. Not necessarily my feelings but the remarks should be looked at and taken seriously.
2/17/2010 9:33:58 PM

I wish we could quantify the decrease in membership from churches that are simply cleaning their roles. It is a shame that a move toward transparency in accounting should reflect poorly on progress. No pastor who hopes eventually to move wants a decrease in the roles on his record.
2/17/2010 5:30:52 PM

Tommy Parker
From my perspective what I want to know is where are these 16 million plus SB.
2/17/2010 4:14:34 PM

Brent Hobbs
This isn't terribly surprising news. If we were actually being honest with our membership numbers, the decline would be much greater.

Over the last two years, our ACP membership numbers decreased by over 70 even though our worship attendance is greater and we've had a net increase in [real, actual] members. Our church profile, for years, had been showing way more members than we actually had on our roll. (It may have been correct in the past and the number was simply never updated.) I expect there are other churches out there in similar situations.

That's not to say we're being as effective as we should be in reaching the lost! We certainly have a lot of work to do. I just think these membership numbers tell us very little in actuality - until they regain some semblance of accuracy.
2/17/2010 12:56:49 PM

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