Baptist Press story: Southern Baptists grow in number of churches, plant 588 new congregations amid COVID-19 pandemic.
I’m in favor of emphasizing the positive so long as we’re given all the data, not just the headline worthy stuff.
Last year was a statistical mess with the pandemic; churches weren’t meeting for much of the year, much less having intimate events like baptisms where hugs and close contact abound. Baptisms dropped by about half to 123,160 the lowest since the flu epidemic of 1919. That was a good comparison, I thought.
Make a note. Baptisms will rocket up when the 2021 data are released next year this time. Critics will be all atwitter figuring out how to bash the Grand Old SBC in light of increasing baptisms. The Florida Baptist Convention baptized more than any other state convention, same as last year. Texas would have more but they’ve got the two state conventions. No bragging rights for the Texans until they get their act together and unify.
How about the SBC increasing the total number of churches by 588 during pestilential 2020? That would be the result of our North American Mission Board at work with their SEND program.
The SBC has right at 14 million members. I would be concerned that the United Methodist Church might claim the title of “largest protestant denomination” but they’re about to have a major split. We, however, look like we’re primed for another minor split.
The national part of the Cooperative Program was at $192 million, down but not an insignificant pool of money.
Churches continue their practice of NOT filing the ACP. For the first time the response rate dipped below 70 percent (it was 69 percent).
The ACP is a riot of footnotes. State conventions have long fiddled with the data. It has gotten to the place where we may have to be more open and public about how the ACP just carries over church data from previous years when churches don’t file.
I noted above that baptisms dropped by about half. Noteworthy here is the fact that the state of Louisiana baptized fully 80% of last year’s total. Lots of water down there, I suppose.
Quiz: Only four state conventions claim over a million in membership. Which ones?
See you in Nashville.
This article was written by William Thornton and published by sbcnews.com