Estimates reflect continued decline in SBC membership

Friday, November 23, 2018
 | 
Bill Bumpas (OneNewsNow.com)

empty pews in churchNo matter how one crunches the numbers, reported membership and baptisms in the Southern Baptist Convention reflect a continued downward trend.

Three out of every ten Southern Baptist congregations did not participate in the 2017 Annual Church Profile Survey. However, LifeWay Research, which compiled the data, created estimates for non-reporting churches. They estimated 363,000 baptisms likely occurred compared to 254,000 reported baptisms; and 15.7 million members, compared to 15 million reported.

Scott McConnell with LifeWay Research told Baptist Press the additional analysis wasn't an attempt to create bigger numbers; in fact, he acknowledged that the estimated statistics show a clear decline in membership numbers.

Dr. Alex McFarland, a long-time Southern Baptist and Christian educator, admits he doesn't understand the methodology – and that he finds it curious how they came up with some of the totals.

McFarland

Nevertheless, he says, "the bottom line is that salvations and baptisms are on the decline, church attendance is on the decline, [and] giving fluctuates. But I would say the SBC is a denomination that needs a great revival."

McFarland tells OneNewsNow that estimating the statistics won't hide what's really happening. "Numbers aside, trends [and] prognostications aside, the bottom line is we need to recommit ourselves to evangelism and telling our neighbors about Jesus," he concludes.

It's time for the church, he says, to turn to the Lord for revitalization.

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