It’s out! The SBC’s annual statistical report:
Southern Baptists Decline in Membership, Grow in Attendance, Baptisms. This is the headline and article from Lifeway Research.
You can always count on our mod/lib friends to put an astringent spin on any SBC news. Here’s their article and headline.
Everyone gets to put a spin on it.
Seems the most notable statistic is that membership decline is the largest ever, 457,371. Dropping that many members is about like having another New Madrid earthquake only one that swallowed the entire state of Missouri.
We baptized more and that’s good but the total, 180,177, is nowhere near the last pre-COVID year total.
The increases in in-person worship and small group numbers are encouraging but any comparison of 2022 data to 2021 involves COVID. Let’s see what we have next year.
A few observations:
SBC churches are finally getting on board with meaningful church membership?
Our Director of Lifeway Research says,
“Much of the downward movement we are seeing in membership reflects people who stopped participating in an individual congregation years ago and the record keeping is finally catching up,” said Scott McConnell, executive director Lifeway Research.
Well, we have data and we have anecdotes. Maybe churches all across the convention, thousands of them, are cleaning their rolls but there’s no hard data for this. A likely cause of steeply declining membership is the loss of a net 453 churches. Lose a church, lose all those members. Maybe some of them merged or joined another SBC church.
But there’s no crime in spin.
Special interest groups are all claiming credit for the loss.
No doubt whatsoever that the high visibility issue of sex abuse has affected the public perception of the SBC. It’s a jump to presume this has crashed the numbers.
Naturally, reflexively, and in their self-interest the takeover group blames lib-uh-rals in the convention. Hooey. The convention is far right of center and has been for decades.
Seems no one but me says there is a consistent and cumulative downward trend based on your good Baptist pew sitters choosing not to do much procreation, relative to earlier decades.
We could legitimately blame crass, open, ugly politics. Anedotally, I have far more people telling me they don’t want to go to church to be offered a diet of Trump/flag/cross fare than people complaining about sex abuse or libs.
If we embark on the program of targeting females, that is precisely, precisely what the proposed constitutional amendment does, I expect that would result in further declines.
And, you say, we are going to have a controversial database no matter what because an earlier convention voted to create one? Could, possibly, a significant number of churches restrict their SBC involvement over this?
Take heart, brethren, the number of state conventions stable at 41.
In person Sunday School/Bible Study/Small Group average attendance is up a couple hundred thousand to 3.8 million. Hmmm, the first big push for Sunday School attendance increase had the slogan, “8.5 million by ’85. Now its “Hold on to whatcha got and rally around online attendance boys!”
Well, brethren and sistren, have an extra beignet and enjoy yourself.