SBC baptisms up, membership down in 2009
    May 18 2010 by Rob Phillips, LifeWay Communications

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) — Southern Baptists reported a 2.2 percent increase in baptisms in 2009, stemming a four-year decline, but membership in the denomination fell and the sagging economy led to a drop in missions giving, according to the Annual Church Profile (ACP) compiled by LifeWay Christian Resources in conjunction with Baptist state conventions.

    Baptisms last year totaled 349,737, up from 342,198 in 2008, a year in which Southern Baptists recorded the fewest baptisms since 1987. Total membership fell 0.42 percent to 16.16 million, and Sunday School enrollment dropped 0.04 percent to 7.75 million.

    While the baptism numbers are encouraging, they do not necessarily signal a reversal of fortune for the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, said Thom Rainer, LifeWay’s president and CEO.

    “Every baptism is a celebration of another person finding new life in Jesus Christ,” Rainer said. “The fact that more people were baptized this year than last year gives us a reason to hope we’re on the right path. At the same time, we as Southern Baptists continue to show signs of drifting from our historic commitment to evangelism, as reflected in the fact that it still takes 46 Southern Baptists to lead one person to faith in Christ.”

    Rainer continued, “The decline in membership across our denomination, along with the drop in Sunday School enrollment, indicate that Southern Baptists continue to be distracted from — or indifferent toward — the command of Jesus to make disciples. I pray that these discouraging numbers sound a wake-up call to all of us.”

    ACP data revealed a slight rise (0.36 percent) in the number of Southern Baptist churches, to 45,010, and an increase of 0.37 percent in primary worship attendance, to 6.21 million.

    Giving to missions totaled $1.33 billion in 2009, a decline of 1.8 percent, reflecting the economic downturn. Through the denomination’s Cooperative Program (CP) and special mission offerings, local churches voluntarily pool funds to support mission efforts in their states, throughout the nation and around the world. For example, Southern Baptists support more than 10,500 missionaries who engage nearly 1,200 people groups throughout North America and around the world.

    In addition, CP funds support six seminaries, the International Mission Board, North American Mission Board and other SBC entities (except for LifeWay and GuideStone Financial Resources, which are self-funding). At the state level, CP funds support a variety of ministries including church health ministries, children’s homes, disaster relief efforts, colleges and universities and much more.

    To view a summary of statistical information for the SBC, go to

    To view a summary of statistical information state by state, go to

    (EDITOR’S NOTE — Phillips is director of communications for LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.)
    5/18/2010 2:22:00 AM by Rob Phillips, LifeWay Communications | with 2 comments

Brent Hobbs
I am glad to see the baptism numbers slightly higher and hope that's a trend that will continue. This next comment is not intended to convey that I think everything is ok with the SBC right now, but I believe some, if not most, of the membership decline has to do with churches reporting statistics more accurately.

I know of several churches who have we recently had a resolution calling us to stop inflating membership numbers. I know of several churches who have gone through their rolls and have seen dramatic reductions in numbers from people who have died, moved membership, or simply can no longer be located. In short, their numbers were artificially high in the first place.

I wrote about this last year, Why the SBC Numerical Decline Is Not as Bad as Some Say
5/19/2010 12:58:09 PM

Gene Scarborough
This is [b]NOT[/b] what I would call a "good report."

In the last 3 years of economic meltdown, many people have turned to God as never before.

Why would they not be "getting right" in greater numbers in churches of the SBC? When you add the increasing turning to God to the small increase in baptisms my question is:

[b]Why have we not seen a great jump of astounding amounts in both areas?[/b]

Could it be because of pastors' cries to give more money--rather than an offer to struggle together with us in faith because [b]"I have asked my congregation to cut my salary the same way their income has been cut?????"[/b]
5/19/2010 11:54:05 AM

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