Lifeway has just released the results of the 2006 Annual Church Profile.
Baptisms are down again for the second consecutive year – 1.89 %, which is less than half of the drop from last year at 4.15%. Not as big a drop, but remember, the 1.89% is a drop from the already lowered number – so it is a greater drop compared to the number two years ago. On the other hand, it is much less of a decline and may indicate some leveling. For that, we are hopeful and prayerful.
524 net gain in cooperating churches which is more than double the increase from the previous year’s number of 234 more churches.
Membership is up slightly, but that is with that elevated number no one can quite validate: 16,306,246. The more realistic number, Sunday School enrollment, is 7,931,753. Primary Worship Attendance is also a more tangible number, but I wonder how long it will be so as non-traditional, non-programatic churches grow in popularity among us. For 2006, the number was 6,138,776. That is more along the lines of who we really are, and it represents a 1.43% growth.
Giving was at 11.3 BILLION – wrap your mind around that ginormous number.
So we have more Southern Baptists and we are giving more money (amazing amounts of money), but we are less effective evangelistically? Not good.
We have never needed a more missional focus – not programmed “visitation,” but whole life, whole congregation engagement of the lost with the Gospel.
I love what Dr. Thom Rainer, President/CEO of Lifeway said:
“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.”
Amen and amen, Doc.