Different Denomination, Same Story

Southern Baptist new baptisms slip again in 2008

Available at http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2009/04/southern_baptist_new_baptisms.html

NASHVILLE -- Southern Baptist churches baptized fewer people in 2008 for the fourth year in a row to reach the lowest level since 1987, and membership in the country's largest Protestant denomination fell slightly as well.

Baptisms dropped just over 1 percent to 342,198 last year, compared with 345,941 in 2007, according to an annual report released by LifeWay Christian Resources, the Southern Baptist Convention's publishing arm.

Total membership of Southern Baptist churches was 16,228,438 last year, down nearly 38,400 from 2007.

The continued decline in the number of followers reflects a trend in other mainline Protestant churches. . . .

"The numbers simply tell us that Southern Baptists are not reaching as many people for Christ as they once did," said Thom S. Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay.

. . .

In the past 50 years, the number of annual baptisms per church member -- a key indicator of church growth -- has dropped sharply. Southern Baptists baptized one person for every 19 church members in 1950, a ratio that dropped to 1 baptism for every 47 church members in 2008, according to the report.

The denomination's baptisms peaked in 1972 at 445,725, based on statistics Lifeway has collected from Southern Baptist churches since 1922.

Why the decline in baptisms and membership? Maybe this article will help us to understand what has happened:

New Southern Baptist leader faces graying flock
The Rev. Johnny Hunt's Woodstock church goes against trend of shrinking numbers

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 06/12/08

Available at http://www.ajc.com/news/content/news/stories/2008/06/11/johnny_hunt_baptists.html

The Rev. Johnny Hunt of Woodstock looks over the declining numbers and white hair of those attending the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting and sees a microcosm of his denomination.

"In 1985, with 45,000 messengers [church delegates attending the convention], 36 percent were under 40," Hunt said Wednesday from Indianapolis, the day after Southern Baptists elected him president of the national organization.

"Last year, with 10,000 messengers, only 16 percent were under 40," he said.

I am not picking on the Southern Baptist. What is true for them is true for most Christian denominations. The truth is that there are fewer baptisms because there are fewer children. The older church members were baptized long ago.

If shrinking denominations want to learn the secret of growth, perhaps they should look to the Amish. See Church Growth Amish Style, available at http://www.geneveith.com/church-growth-amish-style/_992/, where we read, in part:

Why the church growth? With their rejection of automobiles, electricity, computers, and other conveniences of modern life, they aren’t winning many converts. But they have, on the average, five children per family. And though the children have a choice of whether or not to stay with the church when they grow up–getting to spend their late teen or early adult years sampling the outside world–a larger number of them, 85%, are staying with the church.

No comments: