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2006 ACP Numbers are out

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LifeWay: Biblical Solutions for Life – 2006 ACP: SBC Baptisms Down Nearly 2 Percent; Growth Seen In Attendance, Number Of Churches

Lifeway has just released the results of the 2006 Annual Church Profile.

Of note:

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.

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5 Responses to “2006 ACP Numbers are out”


  1. Tony Kummer
    on Apr 17th, 2007
    @ 9:09 pm

    So we have more Southern Baptists and we are giving more money (amazing amounts of money), but we are less effective evangelistically? Not good.

    That should be a t-shirt for the convention this summer.


  2. Art Rogers
    on Apr 17th, 2007
    @ 9:17 pm

    Now there’s an idea.


  3. onelittleman
    on Apr 18th, 2007
    @ 3:02 pm

    Brother Art,

    I’m torn by this news. On one hand I think of how rarely I’ve heard about the kingdom of God in my church and what its implications are on my life behavior. So I wonder if our problem is partly that we are failing systemically to create dedicated followers?

    On the other hand, Jesus said that the way is narrow and many miss it. Should we realistically believe that we will grow every year?

    On the third hand, we seem to be living in the midst of a great awakening of sorts. People are really open to religious/spiritual ideas in our culture and our convention spends bizarre amounts of time arguing about beer. Could it be that we’re got a thristy horse that we aren’t leading to the water?

    On the fourth hand, especially after the events at Virginia Tech during this particular week in April (of all weeks), at some point Jesus’s people are going to have to talk about our culture’s fascination with violence. I read from the Noah story in Genesis and the word says that God was so sick of the violence he saw that he decided to send a great flood, but that Noah found favor in his eyes. My own blog which sorely needs updating really should be a forum for this idea: violence is a tremendous offense to the Lord. But I’m disturbed that no one else I regularly read has mentioned Virginia Tech. I wonder if we expect this sort of violence to now be normal and meriting of no comment from the church? For instance, I read a message board devoted to the topic the other day where many people encouraged prayer. One response stuck out from a person, “don’t you dare pray to any God that lets things like this happen.” The grieving voices need to hear that God wasn’t sitting on his hands the other day. The angry voice needs to hear that God suffers too.

    I wonder sometimes if our churches aren’t growing much because we don’t have much to say? I’m looking in the mirror as I say this and wonder why I’m not showing other folks the passionate Jesus that I claim to believe in.

    Thanks.


  4. Art Rogers
    on Apr 18th, 2007
    @ 3:28 pm

    olm,

    1. I am also in a quandary of sorts over this news.

    2. Yes, I think that we do have to plan for and expect to reproduce ourselves at a greater rate than we are expiring every year, every month and every day. We should plan for and expect to grow. Matthew 24:14, Jesus said, “This good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all the world as a testimony to all nations (people groups). And then the end will come.” HCSB (parenthetical note, mine). This tells me that the Gospel has to keep expanding, and our home is the one place in the world where Christianity is shrinking.

    3. Yes, I do think you are exactly correct. We have a thirsty horse and we are sitting under the shade tree, keeping ourselves quite comfortable.

    4. As for VT, I was dealing with personal issues both when it happened and immediately after. By the time I got to the computer, many people had already said things that I thought were better than what I could say. Our church’s flag is at half mast today and the campus, families and nation are at the top of our prayer list tonight for prayer meeting.


  5. Keith Price
    on Apr 18th, 2007
    @ 3:32 pm

    Art:

    The ACP numbers from the website provide us with some interesting totals and percentages, but really don’t provide us of any significant information. In fact, the ACP numbers given are nearly useless. Good for a press release and then the bottom of a birdcage.

    Membership is a meaningless number and Sunday School enrollment is nearly as useless. The number of new churches provides a little (very little) information. Some useful information about these new churches would be: What kinds of churches (new plants vs. existing), number of attendees, giving, etc. We would also need this kind of information on churches that are no longer a part of the denomination. Without this information there is no way of knowing if the changes or what part of the changes are due to the new churches or existing churches.

    In fact, nearly all of this information is useless. It tells us totals, but little else. Increases may not be indicative of a good trend. For example, giving is up significantly and that increase cannot be easily accounted for by the increase in the number of attendees. So it would seem to me that each person, on average, is giving more. That’s a good thing. But why are they giving more? Could it be that the average age of the attendees is increasing significantly and typically older people will give more? If the overall average age is increasing, that may signify that the churches are not growing, but declining.

    I would guess that to be the case. Looking at the increase in number of attendees I would guess that the actual increase of attendees in our existing churches was 1% or less. But I would be guessing…much like the rest of the ACP!

    Keith

    PS – I apologize for the length. Bad statistics are a pet peeve of mine.

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