Minority ethnic fellowships comprised 22.3 percent of the 51,538 Southern Baptist congregations included in the report regarding 2018, the most recent year studied, using data from LifeWay Research and the North American Mission Board (NAMB).
This isn’t news in a sense. NAMB has long been active and aggressive in this area, as have many state conventions and associations. Seminaries actively seek students from all of these groups.
No one would accuse the sprawling SBC, entities and the like, of making it easy to obtain comparable data but the figure of 22.3 percent of all SBC congregations is more than I expected, though not by much.
More than one in five, approaching one in four of all SBC churches and missions is “minority ethnic.” That is a proportion that would astonish many outsiders and totals over 11,000 congregations. To be sure, many of these are dually affiliated and maintain a relationship with other networks or groups, standard for our day.
Just for comparison, the estimated 1.5 million members in these ethnic minority SBC churches is a size larger than the entire American Baptist Church and perhaps double the membership of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Again, dual affiliations would need to be considered here but I don’t know of any source for that.
But, if the future of the SBC is like the demographic future of the United States, less white, more ethnic minority, the question of how well the SBC and all of our entities are appealing to ethnic minorities is acutely relevant. Judging from the numbers here, I think the answer to that at least shows a positive trend.
All the more reason to be pleased with the direction of the Southern Baptist Convention these days.
On the local church level, the church I attend is heavily majority white but notably multi-ethnic. I see this all the time in SBC churches. Not to say that the vast majority of SBC churches are not totally white. I’m sure they still are.
The most notable hard number about the SBC that concerns race is the one for SBC entity leaders, CEOs. There has never been a non-white CEO for any of the seminaries, mission boards, LifeWay, ERLC, or Guidestone.
Photo above is from the Baptist Press article linked.
Offending comma and miscreant adjective is summarily excised. Good lesson in why any conversation that touches on race and ethnicity is difficult.